The above is a youtube video posted yesterday on the youtube channel of Atena Farghadani. Atena is an Iranian children’s rights activist and artist. Many months back, she was arrested and sent to Iran’s infamous Evin prison for her work as an activist and women’s advocate. After a long hunger strike, she’s out on bail before her trial which begins shortly. This might be the last chance she has to get her message out.
Please help me in spreading her words and illustrations! I have translated the video below (let me know if you have any edits):
“For everyone that wove the carpet to freedom with the pain of their fingertips and the essence of their being”
Hello to all of the people listening and watching. I am Atena Farghadani. I was born in 1986 and I graduated from University of Alzahra with a degree in fine arts. Today is Sunday the 23rd of November 2014. It has now been a few weeks since I have come out of Section 2 of Sepah Pasdaran in Evin prison. I want to send out my message because maybe it will be a step towards stopping the rage against women. I’m filming this video after I sent many letters to officials in Iran and received no response. For this reason, I have decided to send out my message in this video to transmit it to the people.
I always had a passion for illustration and the need to create, I tried to follow the same path the past few years, to continue with a pen in my hand while I was in prison. For that reason, I used the paper cups they gave us milk in as canvas, and the flowers in the prison yard, such as the lavenders and geranium, and their leaves to create paint. When they noticed I was using the paper cups for this purpose they stopped giving them to me. My only choice was to use the paper cups that were thrown away in the trash of the bathroom. On Friday Oct 17th 2014, it had been mentioned to me that the security cameras in the bathroom didn’t work, so I took two cups and hid them in my clothing. When I came back to my cell, I heard the whispering of two guards. One was asking “why does she needs those cups? and the other was saying “rewind the tape and replay it.”
Suddenly, one of the guards in a horrifying and wild manner flung open the door of the cell and screaming curses at me told me to take off my clothes right now. No matter how many times I said this is against the rules, even on a religious level, for me to remove my clothing, still the woman kept screaming and cursing me. The other woman held up my arms, because i was resisting their removal of my clothing and their hands on my body. My right hand slammed against the wall and later the bone of my wrist would become intensely bruised and swollen. The other guard was searching my upper body and hadn’t found anything, her nails left scratch marks all over my chest. While the woman was searching my lower body, I said this isn’t right, I’m on hunger strike and I will take action against you, and the women just began cursing me again. The other guard put her hand to my mouth and said “Shut up or I will hit your mouth so hard it will fill with blood.” The other woman said- and I’m sorry to say this - “What kind of whore house did they bring you from??”
I felt so broken down that they would treat me like that. While I was in prison, I wanted them to acknowledge this act, and the only thing the head of the prison told me was “Ms. Farghadani, this act was not done to you randomly, it was a result of a command from above.”
I have recorded this video completely of my own choice and desire, and my goal is that something like this never happen to any other political prisoner. I hope that in the future we won’t have ANY political prisoners, but with that said… I am hopeful that a political prisoner will never experience so ugly and misogynistic a violation of their body… for all of the women in my country a lot of whom are very educated and even if they’re not as educated, we all deserve equal rights as humans. I don’t want you to lose hope and certainty that you will get your rights. Don’t be scared and don’t scare others because these things are happening. 36 years have passed since we heard all of the damages of the spirit, mind and body [that occurred in the prisons] and i feel after the past 36 years we are one step ahead, maybe the rage that we saw at the beginning of the revolution, for example in 2009, it’s not as severe as it used to be.
Something my interrogator told me several times and I really wanted to explain to people when I was out of prison was “Do you see that the constant cursing and torture that people said were happening in the prisons were lies and how polite we are being to you.” After he said that, I realized the shadow I am sitting in is a result of the hand that planted the tree which now provides the shade, the people like Hoda Saber and Sattar Beheshti.