It has been days since there has been any news of Mohammad Nourizad; days since the three minute trial in which he was insulted and his prison sentence increased. With no one else to turn to, Nourizad’s family have now written a letter to Ayatollah Khamenei, the Supreme Leader, referencing a young girl who long ago had the courage to stand up and criticize him in his presence. Although the young girl’s action at the time met with criticism from those close to the Supreme Leader, she nevertheless received a direct response from the Supreme Leader on that day. In a letter to Khamenei, Nourizad’s family told the Supreme Leader of an Ashura in which security agents humiliated and removed the hijab from the head of Mrs. Nourizad, on a day of mourning with Zeynab, dragging her away on the floor into Evin prison. Will their oppressed and silenced voices finally be heard this time?
In the name of the loving and merciful God,
To the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran,
We write to you today because even though we have exhausted all legal avenues and procedures with regards to the arrest and detention of Mohammad Nourizad, we are wounded at a loss for words, our questions still unanswered. We would have liked to have addressed you as “father”, but given the difficult circumstances we have endured and continue to endure, we come to you like all ordinary citizens, hoping to find some relief for our endless pain.
Mr. Khamenei, do you recall a young girl with trembling hands who approached you so many years ago amidst a large crowd of citizens who looked at you lovingly? She said: “Sir, I’m not sure how to address you. Some refer to you as my as my Imam Ali, others call you Seyed, Moghtada or Supreme Leader. How should I address you?” You responded: “Call me Khamenei” The young girl said: “Mr. Khamenei, I am here to criticize you, but I wish for you to read this letter yourself rather than give it to the two men present here, because they don’t want anyone to criticize you.” You looked at her endearingly, took the folded letter from her hand and placed it under your cloak. You left without realizing what the security agents and the brothers present did to this young girl. She shivered and cried while being interrogated, but in her heart she was glad because Mr. Khamenei had said he would read her letter.
Mr. Khamenei, the young girl had written the following in her letter: “… On the day of the Qods demonstrations, I heard your speech on the national television station [Seda Sima]. I recall you speaking of Imam Ali, of those who were never phased by long periods of worship, those whom at the peak of power and bitter moments of isolation were hospitable to the orphans and never broke anyone’s heart. I recall a man standing up. It looked as though he had a letter for you and yet you bitterly ignored him in front of thousands of people. May God forgive me if I insult you in any way. My intention is not to insult, but rather to ask one question. Perhaps it was not the best of circumstances for this person to approach you, but he will for ever feel as though he has been excluded and ignored by the Supreme Leader and the Islamic government. This man’s only error was his bad timing and loud voice. Please excuse me for saying this, but you erred in your role as the Guardian of the Islamic Jurist and while speaking of Imam Ali…” The young girl then stated without any particular reason at the end of her letter: ” I don’t view you as Mehdi, the last Imam. Even though my letter was addressed to the Office of the Supreme Leader, there is no procedure in place to make sure that letters actually reach you…”
Mr. Khamenei, we realize that you receive many letters. We are aware that you frequently receive complaints, cries and pleadings by post, but only a few have actually succeeded in receiving responses to their letters. With her courageous act, however, this young lady became a part of our history. She had presented a simple, direct and bold criticism that was surprisingly answered. Your response to her was as follows: ” My dear young girl, I thank you for your note and hope that God will forgive all of us for our numerous small and large mistakes. I provide no defense against the issues you have reminded me of in your letter. At times, because of their bitter tone, the narrators become less aware than those who are listening to them speak. In this case, we must all ask almighty God to correct the speaker of these words and if possible point her in the right direction. As such, I too ask almighty God for your happiness and success.”
Mr. Khamenei, that young girl no longer has the opportunity to boldly address you as she did in the past and say: “Mr. Khamenei, I would like to criticize you. A year has past since Mohammad Nourizad, the father of that young girl, was incarcerated as a result of criticizing you. His family have been deprived of the right to see him and the right to hear his voice. The honorable and beloved security agents have treated his wife and children with such grace and kindness showing no respect for the words they expressed in their numerous letters describing their difficult circumstances.
Mr. Khamenei, we have been told that you too have spent many days in prison; that you too have shivered in the cold prison cells and cried as a result of being alienated from your family. Perhaps when you were in prison you heard about dry hunger strikes. Mohammad Nourizad has been on one of these dry hunger strikes for more than a week. He has not eaten nor has he drank anything in one week. Like every other family experiencing such a nightmare, we have done everything in our power to find out about his well being. We have written to the judicial authorities and visited religious scholars, all with the hope that someone will provide us with the opportunity to hear his voice and relieve us from our never ending worry and pain.
Mr. Khamenei, the religious scholars asked us to resort to patience. At noon on Ashura, with dry lips and broken hearts we sat in front of Evin prison and as per the request of security agents quietly prayed on the sacred day of Ashura. Suddenly out of no where our honorable plain clothes brothers showed up, interrupted our prayers, removed our hejab and began beating us. Only God is witness to what they did to us and what happened at noon on Ashura! The image of our mother being dragged on the street while whispering “hail to Zeynab” remains vivid in our minds.
Mr. Khamenei, our mother was admitted to the ICU as a result of these heinous and cowardly acts and our family who was now without a mother and a father mourned the night of Ashura in tears, consoling each other and mending our wounds.
Mr. Khamenei, we only wish that when they beat and arrested the wife and children of Mohammad Nourizad, when they interrogated them and finally released them, that they had at least provided them with information on his condition, or at lease referred them to an entity or individual accountable for responding to their unanswered questions.
Mr. Khamenei, we will not address you as “father” like we address our own father Mohammad Nourizad. With your permission we will address you by your name and refer you to a heart broken mother, an old and hard working father, a veteran brother, a wounded spouse in poor health and children that have been left wondering and without answers. They still don’t know who to turn to nor do they know who is responsible for their bruised and battered bodies and souls.
We seek refuge in the God of freedom,
The Nourizad Family
Saturday 18th December, 2010