“Oppression Stops Life:” Narges Mohammadi Recounts Returning to An Empty Home
For the first time in more than three years, Iranian political prisoner Narges Mohammadi was allowed to go on a three-day furlough on September 26, 2018. But according to a letter she wrote that was published on October 2 by the Defenders of Human Rights Center (where Mohammadi worked before the organization was banned in Iran), the experience was far from enjoyable.
Her husband and two young children were not there when she arrived at her home; they had to flee Iran years ago because Mohammadi’s husband, political activist Taghi Rahmani, was also in danger of being imprisoned. Now they’re in France and according to Mohammadi, the children’s lives have moved on without her presence.
Mohammadi, who was awarded the American Physical Society’s Andrei Sakharov Prize in April 2018, is serving a 16-year prison sentence for her peaceful activism. Held in the Women’s Ward of Tehran’s Evin Prison, she will be eligible for parole after serving 10 years. Following is an English translation of her letter by the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI).
After three-and-a-half years, I opened the door to my home. Without the presence of Ali and Kiana, it didn’t feel like the same place where I had been ruthlessly dragged away. I heard my kids’ playful voices calling me, “mother, mother.”
Suddenly my heart became so heavy that I couldn’t hear my dear friends, who, instead of my husband and children, had gathered at our home to greet me.
I saw a pair of small, pink slippers. They belonged to my dear Ali and Kiana. I took them and pressed them against my chest. Time has not moved since my little girl wore those tiny slippers.
I watched Kiana on Skype. She has grown. She has long hair. Her face has changed. Ali has changed. My little curly-haired boy has grown.
I looked at the marks on the wall where I had measured their height. I asked Ali how tall he is. He said 161 centimeters. I wasn’t there to see and mark 40 centimeters of his life. I wasn’t happy about that.
I went into the bedroom and saw Kiana’s Elsa doll and Ali’s gentle tiger resting on the bed. The bed covers were untouched. Everything stopped for me 88 months ago.
I opened the closet door. It was full of toys for eight and a half year old kids. There were two school calendars on the closet door. Persian language class was from 8 to 9am. I asked Kiana about her classes in Paris. She now has French language class from 8 to 9am. I’m stuck in Persian language class from three and a half years ago.
During this time, there are things I have missed. My children have grown up. They have changed. They only talk about their father. Their mother has no place in their daily lives; when they go to sleep, when they wake up, go to school, shopping, or cooking. I’m not even in their dreams; I have ceased to exist for them.
Oppression stops life. Oppression prevents unions and weakens them. Oppression burns the life out of you and tortures your soul. Oppression leaves emotional and physical scars. You might see one scar, but the deep, infected wounds are hidden. Oppression is not limited to torture, imprisonment and exile. Oppression sucks the life out of you in every way and every moment.