Hey Nasrin, Shiva is released! (For Mehraveh, Nima, Reza and all Nasrin Sotoudehâ€™s clients) / Mansoureh Shojaee
Saturday 25 September 2010, by
Feminist School: Most of the German newspapers have published a beautiful photo of our courageous, brave colleague and friend Shiva along with a detailed biographical report or her activities and achievements. I caught myself touching the papers, which in black and white, in words and pictures, have brought to life the portrait of the brave woman of our movement, and had placed her within my reach in Germany. Without thinking, I translated the text to the language of my heart, so I can read them out loud to all those loved ones whom I have been away from since a while ago.
Hard as I tried, I could only pronounce one word, one name, and that was it! One name and only one name was uttered. It did not come softly as a whisper or a murmur; it came as a scream. I screamed a name that was not only one name, it was a chain of names, of all those who have no names, those who in these bitter times where chained to that name. The chain that was woven by her delicate, kind and blessed hands, tied together with her red tongue always telling the bitter truth, but coming from the peace and tranquillity of green, by her fluent and witty writing, with her good thoughts and her balanced deeds. Nasreen, a name which starts a chain of names, denotes a lady who walks ahead carrying a child in her belly, with her breast ready to nurture, hand in hand with Mehraveh and Nima, shoulder to shoulder with her devoted, humble and cheerful partner, Reza Khandan. This was not only a name, it screams always, â€œAll my clients.â€
Everything has its strange way in Iran. When seeking equality is considered a crime, when walking towards democracy is a wrongdoing, where lawyers like Nasreen are imprisoned and where it is the clients of those lawyers who are going up and down in courts to find a way seeking justice for their freedom.
Everything has its strange way in Iran. In 2007 we were going together to Dubai. We were stopped at the airport and returned home. Three weeks later, she sent a gift to my son, Bamdad along with a note, â€œDonâ€™t worry, for a souvenir one does not need to take a trip!â€ Her kindness, her talent to know how to befriend youth was most soothing to my son, who spent the good days of his youth among the activist circle of her mother and has shared their turbulent life.
Strange is the way of life in Iran these days. In 2008 she received the Human Rights Award while she, like most of her clients, was barred from travelling. However, while protesting the injustice, she turned this unfortunate situation into an opportunity for further demands for democracy and civil rights. Indeed she turned herself into a perfect model of human dignity and righteousness for her little girl.
She sent her daughter along with her husband to receive her award for her. Waving hands at her daughter behind the glass panel of a wall at the airport, she sent her away with smile, with pride, with joy, Go, go ahead, firm and strong!
This was not that little Mehraveh with colourful pleaded skirts, glittering tee shirts, and flamboyant sunglasses anymore. This was a Mehraveh who was going to be the guardian of human rights, though, still with the same colourful pleaded skirts, glittering tee shirts and flamboyant sunglasses, with her hair falling on her little shoulder, still so beautiful.
Everything has its strange way in Iran. When on the anniversary of Women United on Khordad 22 â€“ June 12 several of the women activists decided to take advantage of springâ€™s fresh air and use the excuse of hiking to meet and discuss, misfortune arrived quite unpredicted. We had all agreed to meet at some place on the hiking trail. Nasreen was still on the slope walking up when I called her to tell her to stop and go back home since a few our friends, who had arrived a little earlier than us, had been arrested, and we were lucky not to be there on time. We tried to encourage her to walk away before the police arrived, but she refused. She said, â€œI should stay until you all get here so I know you are safe.â€ When we arrived, she had already been taken away by the police forces. I called her husband Reza and suggested we go to their home and take care of the children so he can go and take care of his wife. He said the little boy, Nima, wonâ€™t stay with anyone else but his parents, so I should go to their home and pick up all the documents and ID cards to take them to the detention centre and do whatever necessary to release Nasreen.
With all her documents in my hands, Nasreenâ€™s Bar Association ID and all the other documents to prove who she is, I was ready to go to court to rescue my lawyer who was now under custody herself. How ironic, a client going to help release her lawyer! Strange world my dear, only in Islamic Republic of Iran I had to use whatever I learned from her in defending oneâ€™s rights and seeking justice. So very confident, I told Mehraveh, â€œI wonâ€™t rest until I bring you back your momâ€™s home tonight, I promiseâ€¦ â€œ That night those of us who by luck had not been arrested, along with our families, and the families of those who were arrested, did not leave the detention centre until we managed to free our loved ones by bail, guarantees, sponsorship, leaving passport or birth certificate as collateral, etc. Upon their release, Nasreen joked, â€œNow I have neither passport nor birth certificate.â€
Mehraveh still believes that I was the one who got her mother released. Three weeks ago, when her mother was arrested, she told her father and many of their friends that it is â€œSuch a pity that Aunty Mansoureh is not here to go an bring my mom home.â€
Everything has its strange way in Iran. After four years of pressure and restrictions, I finally found a chance to once again pursue my activity and set my life experience at the service of my sisters in helping them demand full rights to civil citizenship, which was very specifically gathered under the Campaign for One Million Signatures Demanding Equality. Very quickly I set forth to launch a coalition of Women United for Organizing Their Demands. We were not to support any presidential candidates and we were not even to endorse any of them. We were just to demand two basic points from any candidates running for presidency: to join the International Anti-Gender Discrimination Convention and to reform gender discrimination articles included in the constitution of Islamic Republic. It was towards the campaign and setting up workshop to spread these demands around the country that Nasreen and I set to travel together around the country, to various cities and villages.
And what did those women not do around the country, in the cities and villages when facing their sincerity, modesty and humility. How responsibly, after every lengthy and tedious workshop and lecture, she would rush to attend her duties, either as a mother, wife, daughter in law, a friend, a lawyer, etc.
Everything has its strange way in Iran. It was last year, in Spring, that one morning she called to tell me that Parastoo Farouhar, my good friend, had learned she was barred from abroad, just about the time she wanted to leave the country at the airport, although she had her exit visa, valid passport and plane ticket all issued legally and approved by the authorities.
Everything has its strange way in Iran. And it was a little later, when they finally came after me at 3:30 after midnight. Before leaving I instructed my husband to call some family and friends. The first name I mentioned was Nasreene Upon hearing her name, one of night shift sheriffs smiled sarcastically and said, â€œOnly if she has not been arrested already.â€ Once more I felt that fear and that inner trembling that one may feel at such a moment, something that I was quite familiar with but still frightening. However, being a client of Nasreen, I knew how to overcome that fear and how to stop being faint-hearted. I mentioned a few names in addition to my husbandâ€™s, but the sheriffs again reminded me that there was no hope, â€œThey are all arrested.â€ I donâ€™t know if I believed it or not, but I desperately turned towards the only women in that team of sheriffs and told her, â€œThey arrested them all? You mean the womenâ€™s movement is finished? Lady, watch out! You are a woman yourself, they are arresting us so they can do whatever they want. They would make it easy for your husband to marry a second wife and bring her to your home freely.â€ She was taken aback and said, â€œA second wife? Why so?â€ The poor woman thought the discriminatory laws discriminate among those who are withing the circle of friends and those who are not.
After a temporary release from the prison, She rushed to visit me. She, who taught me a lot with her vast legal knowledge, with her logical mind, with her impeccable dignity, with her principled values, in response to my thanks for all the efforts for me and my family, simply said, â€œI feel so happy when I can help people in need and when I can bring some peace and comfort to their families.â€ She would do all this without any expectation, all free, all generous and all with a huge amount of love and compassion. And now even her children, Nima and Mehraveh, are deprived of all motherly love.
Everything has its strange way in Iran. After four years of being barred from leaving the country, finally the Revolutionary Court issued the order to lift this restriction from my file. Iâ€™m free, but with such disbelief. Is this real? I donâ€™t know until the airplane passes the boarder of Iran.
I had only six hours left to leave the country, but how could I without saying goodbye to a dear friend who is in the hospital, a friend just released from Evin prison two days ago, and only because she was badly sick. We are driving with Nasreen and Noushin to the hospital. Nasreen half jokingly tells Noushin with all her usual kindness, â€œI hope no one calls me at midnight to wake me up tonight!â€ I asked her what about your own case. She says, â€œHonestly, I donâ€™t know. I donâ€™t have time to think about myself.â€
We go the hospital, Nargess is in very critical condition. Nasreene is worried for her, for her professional responsibilities, and for her kids who are at home waiting for her. It is late at night and the hospital is too far from her home. But she should rush and speed from one duty to another. Time is up for friends and it is Nima and Mehraveâ€™s turn now.
It is now three weeks that, thanks to Islamic Republicâ€™s justice system, Nima and Mehraveh, are waiting for their mother!
Everything has its strange way in Iran. There is a hearing in court, but they do not issue any judgement. Still the following week they set the suspect free on a very heavy bail. Thanks to such a system, at least Shiva is free! Most of the German newspapers have published a beautiful photo of our courageous, brave colleague and friend Shiva along with a detailed biographical report or her activities and achievements. I caught myself touching the papers, which in black and white, in words and pictures, have brought to life the portrait of the brave woman of our movement, and had placed her within my reach in Germany. Without thinking, I translated the text to the language of my heart, so I can read them out loud to all those loved ones whom I have been away from since a while ago. The first name was Nasreen. It was not easy to pronounce anymore. It was heavy and hard, I felt a lump in my throat, and my sobbing did not let the name to come out as softly and as smoothly as I like to call that name. But I have to call her, I have to give her the news so she can say laughingly, â€œI hope it is a good newsâ€¦â€ She does not like email, she does not like to check it so often, she still has to hear the news, like in the old days, she likes to hear the voices, â€œYou have to feel the sensation of news.â€ She still likes paper books, they are real, they are not virtual, they are not image. She has a lot to do. Mother of two children, a kind and responsible wife, a caring daughter to her own parents who are not in good health, a kind sister, an affectionate daughter-in-law and a lawyer for â€œall my clients.â€
Yes I have to send her the message, but how can I call her? Oh, how difficult it is to pronounce her name, that easy, simple and sweet name which slips from the tip of her clientsâ€™ tongue so easily and comes so hard at this time. What should I do? She wants to hear it all, good and bad. Even with all the tapped phone calls it was not that bad. Are they listening to us now? What should I do with this ocean of distance between us? Even if my scream is as loud as the angel of the resurrectionâ€™s trumpet and passes beyond the ocean, how could I break through Evinâ€™s walls? The Evinâ€™s walls are so hard, it is hard, oh my friends. But this heart is accustomed to singing and that ear is accustomed to hearing, but now it is just a scream: Oh Nasreen, Shiva is free!
Translated by: Mina Siegel
Source in Persian: