It is prison Friday and I had a little debate with myself about my post for today. It does go back a long ways, and it sort of about a book, although, really it isn't. I'm going with it.
It is interesting how well religious fundamentalist do the prison thing. I am talking about running the prison thing here. They do it just as well as the non religious. Doesn't really seem to matter. With or without god or gods, some have a unique capacity for pure evil. This "lovely" reminiscence from back in the early 80s Iran tells us what can what happens when you toss some misogyny into the works.
Shahrnush Parsipur was born in Tehran, Iran, in 1946. While at the University of Tehran she published several short stories and articles in literary magazines throughout Iran. She became a producer at Iranian National Television and Radio. Later she was arrested protesting the unjust execution of two of Tehran’s poet’s by the Shah's secret police. She spent fifty-nine days in prison. But that isn't the story.
She moved to France to study Chinese Philosophy and Language. There, she wrote her second novel, Majerahayeh Sadeh va Kuchake Ruheh Derakht (Plain and Small Adventures of the Spirit of the Tree) in 1977.
She returned to Iran in 1980 to witness the Iranian revolution firsthand. Soon after her return, she was arrested and thrown in prison for nearly five years. The circumstances of her arrest are unclear, as she was never formally charged with a crime. However, she maintains that her incarceration, in conjunction with that of her mother and brother, was due to her brother’s involvement in political documenting.
Pen America takes us where we are going here:
Her memoir, Kissing the Sword, captures the surreal experience of serving time without being charged with a crime and witnessing the systematic destruction of any and all opposition to fundamentalist power. Parsipur, one of the great novelists of modern Iran, known for her magic realist style, tells a story here that is all too real. She mines her own painful memories of her imprisonment to create an urgent call for one of the most basic human rights: freedom of expression.
Her website tells us more.
As soon as she was released from jail, she published her novel Touba va Maanayeh Shab (Touba and the Meaning of Night) which has brought her a lot of fame amongst the book readers in Iran. This book has been translated into German and Italian, and its English translation has published..
As a result of openly referring to the issue of virginity in her novella Women without Men, she ended up in jail again on two different occasions.
During an interview published on Iranian.com she was asked about her experiences with prison. She replied:
I have been to prison four times and I have extensively discussed them in my Prison Memoir [Khaterat-e Zendan]. It is very difficult for me to explain them again. But I will tell you...
The first time was because I publicly protested the execution of Khosrow Golsorkhi and Keramatollah Daneshiyan -- they were both poets, on which occasion I resigned from the Iranian National Television. Because I believed the reasons of the state for the trial and execution of these poets were not sufficient and it was wrong. In the letter of resignation that I wrote, I indicated that I was not opposed to the government [hukumat] or monarchy [maqam-e saltanat], I still am not opposed to it. But that execution was unjust. At any rate, because of the circumstances surrounding this resignation, I was arrested and put behind bars for 54 days. I was incarcerated.
The second time it was in 1981. I had returned to Iran in 1980. I tried to find a job to earn a living. My sister-in-law had a number of publications which she used to go and purchase. Both to read and to share with us. This particular publication was of a leftist leaning. Right now I cannot remember to which political group it belonged. The name of that publication was Rahaee [Emancipation]. I used to borrow it from my sister-in-law and read it. At any rate, a number of this particular publication had accumulated at my brother’s house. When a number of the leading cadre including Ayatollah Beheshti and his comrades were assassinated. All of these publications were immediately banned. I went to my brother’s to return my niece. My brother had asked my mother who had at the time was in the kitchen to get rid of these publications. But my mother had forgotten and these were left in his car and he had driven to the village of Evin a few days later and these publications were discovered by the police and the Hezbollah militia. At this point they arrested all of us. None of us were political activists, neither my mother, nor my two brothers, nor I. Each one of us was sent to prison for different reasons and periods. Mine become longer than all of them. It lasted for four years, seven months and seven day -- but I was never officially charged.
On two other occasions, I was arrested after the publication of my Women without Men, when a Hezbollah affiliated periodical attacked me, claiming that this story is anti-Islamic, unethical and contrary to this, that, or other things [zede behman]. I was arrested -- I believe in the month of July of 1990. I was in jail for about two months and my family put my maternal aunt’s house as collateral and bailed me out. After that I reported back to the prison in order to release my aunt’s house from any collateral obligation. These are the four times I went to jail.
During my second term in prison, many executions took place. Large groups of people were executed. Maybe six, seven thousand people were killed, which later in addition to the executions that took place in 1988, the number exceeded to ten thousand deaths. These were exceedingly frightful years. The atmosphere of prison was terrorizing...
The following is from Utne. It is one piece of a story of one woman's life in an Iranian political prison under the reign of the Mullahs. It is also, no doubt, the story of many others who themselves cannot speak.
As a Woman and Political Prisoner of Iran