REY­HANEH JAB­BARI ’ S LET TERS FROM DEATH ROW

Here are ex­cerpts from four un­dated let­ters (trans­lated from Farsi) that Jab­bari wrote dur­ing her last year in prison as well as an ex­cerpt from the fi­nal voice-mail mes­sage she left for her mother.

Elle (Canada) - - World -

The male in­ter­roga­tor does not know what it means to strike a woman in her breasts with a knee dur­ing her monthly cy­cle.

ONE DAY, ONE OF THE GUARDS GAVE ME A CARD AND

told me the card was equiv­a­lent to hav­ing money. By then, my in­juries had healed and I could take show­ers. That same day an old woman came to clean my cell. This was the cus­tom at Evin [a prison where she was held prior to be­ing trans­ferred to Shahr-e Ray prison]: Women who were lonely and had no vis­i­tors had to work to earn tele­phone rights and by sell­ing their phone time to other pris­on­ers would earn a liv­ing.

Her name was Nessa. She was full of re­gret and dis­ap­point­ment. I gave her my card and asked her to buy me a pen and take as much money as she wanted from the card. She brought me the pen to­gether with a cookie with a golden stem. I was ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a new taste that re­minded me of home and hap­pier days. Now I had a pen!

Sham­loo [one of Jab­bari’s in­ter­roga­tors] had pro­hib­ited me from read­ing news­pa­pers, hav­ing vis­i­tors, read­ing books, get­ting any news or read­ing the Qu­ran. But I had a pen which was com­ple­mented by some pa­pers I took from the trash cans when I took walks out­side. I would put them in my pock­ets and bring them back to my cell. I started writ­ing on lit­tle pieces of white pa­per. I ex­pressed my anger, com­plained, got angry, cursed... and gave Sham­loo a nick­name... the Old Lizard.

THE MERE TASK OF GET­TING UP AND AN­SWER­ING

ques­tions is agony. The male in­ter­roga­tor does not know what it means to strike a woman in her breasts with a knee dur­ing her monthly cy­cle. I do not know why when women give birth to boys, they do not tell h

I could never see the out­side light to know whether it was day or night. I only re­al­ized it was day­time when work­ers and guards were busy walk­ing about. The world did not love us. It did not want my fate. And now I am giv­ing in to it and em­brac­ing death.

their sons how they feel, so that when their lit­tle son grows up and be­comes an in­ter­roga­tor, he would know how to knee-strike an ac­cused in the stom­ach. An ac­cused who turns out to be a woman and hap­pens to be spend­ing the most dif­fi­cult days of her life.

A FLU­O­RES­CENT LIGHT WAS AL­WAYS ON IN MY

soli­tary cell. I could never see the out­side light to know whether it was day or night. I only re­al­ized it was day­time when work­ers and guards were busy walk­ing about. And in the night­time si­lence, I learned to hear things by putting my ear on the cold metal door and hav­ing con­ver­sa­tions with the in­mates in my neigh­bour­ing cells through the lit­tle food doors. I learned to stay up at night­time. On one of those sleep­less nights, I got to know Akram and Par­vaneh. Akram was the wife of a clergy and I never un­der­stood why she was in prison.

But Par­vaneh had a dif­fer­ent story. She had been in prison in the 1980s but had mirac­u­lously been saved from ex­e­cu­tion. Now she was in prison for sup­port­ing a man I didn’t know but she told me about. His name was Osan­loo and was ap­par­ently the head of the bus company’s labour union. I could not un­der­stand why a per­son should be im­pris­oned for such a thing. I told Par­vaneh my in­juries were get­ting healed, and she con­stantly told me about the im­por­tance of re­sist­ing forced con­fes­sions. Sadly, she came to my life too late, when I had al­ready con­fessed ev­ery­thing—to par­tic­i­pat­ing in pol­i­tics, which I never un­der­stood, and to all kinds of re­la­tion­ships.

I , REY­HANEH JAB­BARI, WHO HAD NEVER BEEN

ar­rested be­fore and had never done any­thing to even get a warn­ing from the univer­sity’s se­cu­rity of­fice, con­fessed to [il­licit] re­la­tion­ships with many peo­ple. And it was the Old Lizard who said any con­tact be­tween a man and a woman who are not re­lated—even a phone con­ver­sa­tion—is a re­la­tion­ship. And I, who stayed away from even talk­ing to peo­ple that I didn’t know, con­fessed to what he wanted me to.

DEAR SHOLEH, TO­DAY I LEARNED THAT IT IS NOW

my turn to face Qisas [the Ira­nian regime’s law of ret­ri­bu­tion]. I am hurt as to why you did not let me know your­self that I have reached the last page in the book of my life.... The world did not love us. It did not want my fate. And now I am giv­ing in to it and em­brac­ing death.... In the other world, it is you and me who are the ac­cusers and oth­ers who are the ac­cused. Let’s see what God wants. I wanted to embrace you un­til I die. I love you. n

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