Last week, an Iranian blogger died in police custody. That’s another way of saying he was tortured to death. He was arrested on October 30th and his family got a call a few days later telling them to come and identify the body. You can read about it here: http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2012/11/the-death-of-sattar-beheshti-dissident-blogger-in-iranian-police-custody/264974/#
There’s some small consolation in the fact that it’s still making the news in Iran, even if this news is “Government Denies Killing Beheshti.” Imagine risking death to write a weblog. If I’m honest, I can say that would probably stop me from writing anything ever. Beheshti and those like him display something incredible about the human spirit. He wasn’t even well-known in Iran, just an average citizen who spoke out. This is a translation of his final post, as found from links at The Atlantic and Wikipedia. Normally I would ask permission of the website owner before doing this, but obviously that wasn’t possible. I hope it is true to the spirit of his message. I welcome comments and corrections.
They Threatened, “Publish Nothing or Otherwise We Will Shut Your Mouth”
“For a long time, the Islamic Republic has used every means to put independent Iranians under pressure, denying them the right to express their views on the country’s problems. They use threats, imprisonment, torture and finally murder to terrorize the people! Every day they throw new obstacles into our path. Email, messages, beatings and abuse in the streets are the least of what they do. Yesterday, they threatened me. They said, “Tell your mother she’ll be dressed in mourning soon if you don’t shut your big mouth.” I said, “I’ve done nothing about which I need to keep my mouth shut.” They answered, “You talk too much.” I replied, “What I see and what I hear, I write.” They said, “We can do what we like and behave as we please. You had better shut up and not publish anything, otherwise you’ll be silenced and disappear without a trace! The people of Palestine and Bahrain are in torment and no one spares them a thought. You are a traitor!”
I and those like me are not traitors. We are patriots. It is you who are the traitor. Day and night, the threatening phone calls never stop. Perhaps it would be better if we kept our mouths shut but I consider myself an Iranian and I can not remain silent in the face of adversity. I said, “Sirs, you talk too much and you will destroy the country with these baseless rumors. I will not remain silent even to the moment of my death wherever I am in the world and threats, no matter who from, mean nothing to me. Sirs, shut your mouths. Do not try to oppress me or I will reveal you.
The Islamic Republic cries out, “Oh, the calamity!” for Palestine, Bahrain, and many other countries and expresses its concern over the lack of open discourse and a free press in these countries. But they won’t say where these films and pictures obtained by trickery come from. They won’t say how, although the media has been suppressed, the reporters of the official regime networks broadcast live directly from those countries, force feeding it to the people. They force those same one-sided reports upon the people with such ferocity that it makes one sick and disgusted to watch the Islamic Republic’s networks. But about the sorrowful and continual abrogation of human rights in Iran, they are silent! They imprison, torture and execute their own people, yet never say a word about it. They hold political prisoners in the worst conditions imaginable in order to break them. Not only do they not give any word about these poor souls to their attorneys, they don’t even allow them representation in the first place! They even prevent the families from learning anything about their loved one. They threaten the prisoner’s family, telling them they don’t have permission to meet with or receive news about the prisoner. Their threats don’t end there; they say, “If you go to press, you will be putting yourself and your family in danger. We will imprison the daughters and other members of your family.” Their slogan is “We imprison, we torture. You stay silent. You publish nothing.”
“Sirs,” what sort of law is this? Where in the world is this law enforced? And now you have made a gift of this law to the people of Iran. Is this law practiced anywhere but in dictatorships? Believe me when I say the worst dictatorships in the world would not enforce this law I have described! And even if it were practiced, it would be in the name of government, not in the name of religion and God, or rather, to the disgrace of religion and the God of that religion. Why must you imprison, torture and execute…and silence the families? Why don’t you abandon your rule and never return before the same tragedy falls on your own head and you finally taste it for yourself? This law of yours does not even exist in the jungle! If you are so certain that everything you have done is perfectly acceptable, then why are you afraid of it being pointed out? Allow it to be published so that the other governments of the world learn how to practice democracy! If you realize how despicable your acts are and that the whole world laughs at you, then why do you it? How is it that your television reporters are all over the world and reporting whatever they want, but foreign networks must either report what you want them to or they are not in Iran at all. What benefit does oppression bring to governing a few days more? Does your conscience put its trust in this law I’ve described?
I have another explanation. If you fear exposure, you could either leave the government or stop the oppression. Don’t imprison, torture, or slaughter so that nothing is published in the press. Otherwise, not only will it be exposed in the press but also the carpet of your oppression will be thrown over your own head.
Exposing the condition of oppressed people is the duty of each and every member of society and anyone who neglects this duty betrays their own conscience. Anyone who refuses to expose [injustice] digs a hole for themselves! Because once you make it your goal to silence every person who speaks out in opposition, you will have to pursue them even if this outburst takes place in a corner of their house! So you don’t scare us with your threats because there is no fear in our hearts. No fear remains. Whipping and torture will not stop us from spreading the news. If our slogan is, “We imprison, we torture. You stay silent, you will publish nothing!”, then our slogan is this: We step onto the field of battle. We shall find freedom from the body’s cage or we will smash the cage of your oppression. Long live Iran and the Iranians. I pledge my life to Iran.