I Cannot Forgive

I believe that pledge for justice differs from vengeance for bloodshed


I Cannot Forgive
by Majid Naficy

The Persian version of this piece, "nemitavanam bebakhsham", was written on October 31, 2002, published in Shahrvand (Toronto) and Kayhan (London) as well as my book I "Am Iran Alone and Thirty-Five Other Essays" (man khod Iran hastam va si-o panj maqaaleh-ye digar) Afra/Pegah Publishers, Toronto, 2006.

No! I cannot forgive you. I was her husband and comrade, and now as an heir, I cannot shrug off this murder. Ask her to forgive you herself. Go to Infidel Cemetery and find her unmarked tomb by pacing eight steps from the gate and sixteen steps against the wall; call out her name; say that you regret killing her, and beg for her pardon.

Perhaps after twenty-one years she will stand up again, rub her heavy eyelids, and look at you. You will notice the bullet wound in her chest, and remember that cold day in January, when the prisoners were brought forward, blindfolded. They were fifty-two individuals: two women and fifty men.

You aimed and shot her and saw that she fell down. Did you ask yourself why you were killing her? In the name of God and the Islamic state? Khomeini endorsed her death warrant; the head of the judiciary added her name to the list on death row; the Islamic judge announced her sentence; the jailer tied her to the torture-bed; the interrogator cornered her with his questions; an Islamic republican guard carried her from the hospital to the prison; and a man in Aria-Shahr called the local Islamic police committee to come and capture her who, while fleeing, had jumped down from a wall and broken her pelvis. You are still looking at the bullet wound, remembering when you put her cold body into a plastic bag and threw it into the mortuary truck with other corpses to be brought to Infidel Cemetery; and the Islamic republican guards hastily buried them in a mass grave without any stone tombs.

Then you will hear her voice asking you, "When you came to arrest me did you show me a warrant? Did you let me have an attorney at the time of cross-examination? Did you bring me before an open court with a jury and let my lawyer defend me without fear? When the prosecutor charged me, was his indictment based on true and objective facts, or forced self-incrimination and false testimonies? Was my sentence fair and proportionate to my alleged crime? Did I have the right to appeal?" Now, tell me what your responses are to her questions.

Without justice how can one speak of the right of heirs to pardon? Reconciliation is possible only when the mass graves are uncovered and the process of seeking justice begins, the roles of those who have participated in this crime are determined, and each person receives a fair sentence accordingly. Pardon prior to justice leads to forgetting the injustices in the past and yielding to more injustices in the future. One who remains indifferent toward yesterday's cruelties becomes an accomplice to today's crimes.

How can I, as the survivor and heir to my wife Ezzat Tabaian, executed on January 7, 1982 in Evin prison in Tehran, forgive the crimes of the participants before her murder is investigated by an independent grand jury? Who are these collaborators? One who endorsed her death sentence; one who gave the verdict; one who tortured and interrogated her; one who instigated her arrest; and the one who, on that snowy day in January, put a bullet in her chest. They all have dirty hands. Each is responsible for his act, despite the fact that these men are products of an outdated ideology that justifies their brutality. They should be tried in an open court with juries and lawyers and be held accountable for their crimes so that justice prevails. Only then can one ask the heir if he is willing to pardon the criminals.

No! I cannot show magnanimity and generosity because no independent court has been created yet to indict and condemn the criminals so that I can ask for their pardon. Reconciliation prior to the process of justice would mean forgetting the agony that my wife, Ezzat, and thousands of other women and men went through because of their beliefs, and approving other similar injustices that are currently being committed in my homeland.

No! I cannot forgive. Not because I advocate revenge; quite the contrary. I believe that pledge for justice differs from vengeance for bloodshed. An avenger of murder merely wants to satisfy his personal anger and does not care about the social consequences of his violent act. One who seeks justice should not take matters into his own hands, but find a competent third party, that is, an independent court capable of making an objective judgment about a committed crime without violating the rights of the accused. Revenge and retaliation derive from tribalism and completely differ from the independent judicial system of our era. In modern law the goal is to rehabilitate criminals and prevent crime. But in religious retribution and tribal retaliation the objective is an eye for an eye.

Neither revenge and violence, nor amnesia and submission to tyrants! A murder is committed and needs to be reviewed by an independent court. Until that time, I, as the widower of the murdered, have no right to forgive you. Go to Infidel Cemetery at Khavaran Road, Tehran. Find the burial site of my wife among the other graves in that place of grief that has greatly expanded over the past twenty-one years. Tell her that you are regretful of the crime committed against her, and that you agree to appear in front of an independent court. Then look around. Perhaps you will see me next to her grave.


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Thanks Poirot

by Souri on

I was looking for this, since a while.

This great quote has been graved in my memory for long, but I couldn't remember all the words exactly.

Thanks for refreshing my memories, in this sad topic.

Dr. Naficy, I share your dolour


An independent court is a good idea

by KurdishWoman (not verified) on

What about creation of an independent court to indict and condemn all the leftist criminals who wore hijab during the Revolution in support of Khomeini, voted for an Islamic Republic during the national referendum of 1979 and then supported the bombing of innocent Kurds by Khomeini?


undeserved forgivness

by Poirot on

dear majid naficy the Kafkaesque manner by which your spouse and many other innocent people were tortured and sentenced to death is simply sickening and does not deserve forgiveness. I applaud you for your strength, and I for one consider myself guilty for your lose as I have said nothing or done anything to stop the ongoing terror of the IRA. for that I am sorry



Evin Detainee: It's easy for

by asdf (not verified) on

Evin Detainee: It's easy for you to forgive because you're still alive. I wonder how your parents would have felt if you had been executed.

I do agree that ,personally, Mr. Nafisi should forgive those who have committed this injustice to him for his own sake; however, forgiving doesn't mean these crimes should not go unpunished. These criminals should be persecuted even if takes a hundred years to set an example for others to avoid committing these atrocities on others in the future.


I'm moving on...

by PedramMoallemian on

Unless you (and we) can find the strenght to forgive without forgetting, we will be stuck where we have been for the last 21-28 years. I, for one, choose to forgive all the insanity, the crulty and the inhumanity, in exchange for a future without hate and hostility.

One time Evin detainee and teenager with a death sentence,

Pedram Moallemian, Los Angeles


take the IRI leadership to the International Criminal Court

by asdf (not verified) on

Sudan president charged with genocide in Darfur In the International Criminal Court

Likewise, the leadership of the Islamic Republic can be charged with crimes against its own citizens and citizens of other countries:

The indictment marked the first time prosecutors at the world's first permanent war crimes tribunal have issued charges against a sitting head of state, though President Omar al-Bashir was unlikely to face trial any time soon.

Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo filed 10 charges against al-Bashir related to a campaign of extermination of three Darfur tribes that the U.N. says claimed 300,000 lives and driven 2.5 million people from their homes. A three-judge panel was expected to take two to three months to decide whether to issue an arrest warrant.

Human rights groups welcomed the prosecutor's move, but cautioned it could provoke a violent backlash from Sudan, while offering little prospect that al-Bashir will be arrested and sent for trial to The Hague. The court, which began work in 2002, has no enforcement arm and relies on governments to act as its police force.

Warrant of arrest for Ali Muhammad Ali Abd-Al-Rahman ("Ali Kushayb") -
Warrant of arrest for Ahmad Muhammad Harun ("Ahmad Harun") -

Decision on the Prosecution Application under Article 58(7) of the Statute - 27.04.2007
ICC-02/05-01/07-1 - Original: English

THE HAGUE, Netherlands: The International Criminal Court's prosecutor linked Sudan's government to atrocities in Darfur, naming a junior minister as a war crimes suspect who helped recruit, arm and bankroll the murderous desert fighters known as the janjaweed.

Ahmed Muhammed Harun, the former junior interior minister responsible for the western region of Darfur, and a janjaweed militia leader, Ali Mohammed Ali Abd-al-Rahman, also known as Ali Kushayb, were suspected of a total of 51 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said Tuesday.

Human rights groups welcomed the move but urged action against more senior figures.

"Officials at the highest levels of the Sudanese government are responsible for widespread and systematic abuses in Darfur," said Richard Dicker of New York-based Human Rights Watch.

"While the individuals identified today are important, the ICC prosecutor should move up the chain of command to target those senior Sudanese government and military officials responsible for the most serious crimes in Darfur," he added.



Mr. Naficy: You and your

by asdf (not verified) on

Mr. Naficy: You and your wife will get your justice.

Truth will always prevail. Thank you for sharing your personal pain with others. We need to hear more.


Don't hold your breath

by Iva (not verified) on

While waiting for International community to setup a court to bring Iranian criminals to justice.

Unfortunately, Iranian have been brainwashed and turned into an arabaic submissive people. Yes, they complain and nag and occassionally there are individuals that show courage, however, collectively, Iranians have turned into slaves who are affraid of whips of their masters. Islam is culprit .. in which people accept torture and executions of innocent simply because their masters tells the oridinary folks that person which being torutured or murdered is "against god".

Show me a place where islam is practiced and I will show a place where injustice prevails.


You only see one side of this story

by victim (not verified) on

Mr Naficy,

While I am sorry for your loss, I think Mehdi in his post is trying to tell you something. Our literature, with which you may not be familiar, is rich in this narrative. Perhaps the best i can quote from is Nasser Khosrow's famous piece:

چون تيغ به دست آري مردم نتوان كشت

نزديك خداوند بدي نيست فرامشت

اين تيغ نه از بهر ستمگاران كردند

انگور نه از بهر نبيدست به چرخشت

عيسي به رهي ديد يكي كشته فتاده

حيران شدو بگرفت به دندان سر انگشت

گفتا كه »كرا كشتي تا كشته شدي زار؟

تا باز كه او را بكشد آنكه تو را كشت؟«

انگشت مكن رنجه به در كوفتن كس

تا كس نكند رنجه به در كوفتنت مشت

I rest my case.


Justice cannot be bartered away

by sz (not verified) on

The decision by the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to file charges against the sitting president of Sudan among other things, for crimes against humanity, is a ray of hope for all who believe in justice. Until and unless the Islamic republic is held to account for its flagrant human rights violations any deal, grand or otherwise, by the international community is destined to fail.

Jahanshah Rashidian

Mr. Naficy

by Jahanshah Rashidian on

I understand your legitimate expectations.

The IR's constitution and judiciary are based on the archaic Sharia, allowing killing any "enemy of Islam." Apart from murderers and their apologists on this site, no human being, with even a little sense of humanity, can justify, ignore or play down the death fatwa of collective massacre of 88, issued by ayatollah Khomeini.

What took place in 1988 and what is carried on in the Iranian prisons are in flagrant violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to which Iran is a signatory.

The massacre is the most criminal example committed by the IRI, however not only ignored by the West because of their complex relations with the IRI, but also the UN and the international criminal court, the Hague Court, have silenced the massacre for two decades.


Mr Naficy every time I read your writings my heart aches.

by Tahirih on

 there is so much sadness in you, of course rightfully. We should not forget, but we have to move towards forgiveness and hopefully in the process justice would prevail too. As you may or may not know I am a bahai, and at the same time when you lost your dear wife , we lost too many innocent souls too. For different reasons though. I think it is time for all of us, not only people who lost loved ones but all of us who lost our youth in exile ,away from every one dear to us, people who lost it all, to voice our sympathy for each other.

it is time to let our pain be our uniting force, let us all care for and acknowledge Iranian army personnel who innocently were killed ( not every person executed was a savak member), for MKO members who were slaughtered, for Religious minorities being killed for their belief, our dear kurdish hamvatans, for young pasdars walking over land mines, for all the ignorant people committing murder in the name of God. And lets us all not forget your dear young wife and comrads who were  executed for being a communist.

I am crying for all that was lost in the name of God!

With the hope of peace on earth,



I wonder

by Mehdi on

When I look back, I wonder if it was really necessary for some to pick up guns and start a fight with Shah. I wonder if it was really necessary to shoot American contractors in Iran. I even wonder if it was really necessary to blow up bombs and kill Rajaee and Beheshti and others. I wonder if Iran benefitted from those activities. I wonder how Iran would have been different today if those event had not happened. I wonder if we have any responsibility in what is going on or has been going on in our country? Are we just blameless victims? Are we just by design incapable of controlling our governments? Do we need to pray for a hero to show up on a white horse and save us, the useless and the weak? Is it possible that all those times that we told ourselves that there wasn't anything we could do and that it was all decided by some powerful but insane individuals, we were actually just refusing our share of responsibility? I wonder.

Masoud Kazemzadeh

May Justice Prevail

by Masoud Kazemzadeh on

Dear Dr. Naficy,

My deepest sympathies.  Hopefully, justice will prevail.

Kind regards,




right on

by MRX1 (not verified) on

We should not forget ever! may be we can forgive, but not now, not untill there are courts and hearings established
based on international law, human rights, with the international community presense to observe every aspect of this so it be fair and be a lesson to the future generations every where specialy in Iran.


Majid Naficy is right on the

by Ramin Ahmadi (not verified) on

Majid Naficy is right on the mark, passionate, elequoente, personal and yes, political. Iranian community needs to read his words over and over again. May we all see justice prevail one day soon.