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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Akbar Mohammadi: a martyr for peace and freedom

"The light of injustice will not burn forever
 if it burns one night, it shall be extinguished tomorrow..."

On July 30, 2006, 34-year old pro democracy activist, Akbar Mohammadi died in Evin Prison, after enduring seven long years of grueling torture at the hands of the brutal Iranian regime. He had been arrested in 1999 after taking part in the student uprising demonstrations, the largest pro democracy movement since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
Akbar spent most of his incarceration enduring long hours of interrogations, beatings and torture. A week before his death, he had been on a hunger strike protesting the refusal by authorities to allow him to seek medical treatment for his injuries.
Akbar is just one example of the many thousands of political prisoners who are silenced by a brutal regime for speaking out against the gross human rights violations that occur daily in Iran. Freedom of speech and freedom of religion is a precious gift that most of us enjoy, but in Iran, the gift of freedom and democracy, is only a hope and dream in a society ruled by Islamic law.
Today is a very painful day for my dear friend Nasrin Mohammadi. Nasrin is Akbar's sister. She loved her brother and was very close to him. Since his death Nasrin has worked very hard to keep her brother's vision of peace and freedom alive. One way she has accomplished that is by publishing Akbar's prison diary that describes in detail the beatings and torture he endured on a daily basis.
"Ideas and lashes: the prison diary of Akbar Mohammadi," is a powerful book that describes what life was like for Akbar in Evin Prison. Akbar vividly describes the long, grueling hours of interrogations, repeated questions, demands for answers and even when he told the truth, the interrogators responded by beating the bottom of his bare feet with steel cables until he passed out. Daily floggings, no medical treatment and very little sleep between the endless interrogations, was the daily routine for Akbar. At one point Akbar was handcuffed and hung upside down, a painful and agonizing form of torture designed to force him to reveal the names of other students involved in the demonstrations.
Yet Akbar refused to tell and remained loyal to his Friends until the very end.
Nasrin writes in "Ideas and lashes," that her brother gave his life for democracy and freedom for his fellow citizens."
She also pointed out that Akbar stood up against the injustices of his fellow cellmates and for that reason alone, he was subjected to more beatings and torture.
 "Whenever our family sent him cash in jail, Nasrin writes, he would immediately share it with his cellmates, keeping the least amount for himself."
 Inspite of the painful suffering that Nasrin and her family endured following the sad death of her brother, there is a glimmer of justice in the tragedy.
 Nasrin and her brother Manouchehr, were invited to the white house by President George W. Bush and honored  for their courageous fight for freedom in Iran.
The fight for freedom and human rights in Iran is an ongoing struggle that continues to claim the lives of many brave protesters. In the midst of his captivity, Akbar wrote a poem of hope, a light in the darkness, that looked forward to the day that the struggle would finally come to an end. In the midst of his suffering, Akbar clung onto the hope for a free Iran one day.

The light of injustice will not burn forever.
If it burns one night, its fire will be extinguished tomorrow.
How long will sorrow be the joy of my existence?
Much sin has been committed in your name, O freedom
On the threshold of execution gallows, torture rack, and prison
They drink wine and raise their glasses in your name, O freedom
The dark nights are over my friend and we will see the dawn
when the sun rises on the edge of freedom.