Palestinian prisoners in Israel and Iranian prisoners in Evin Prison’s Ward 350 on Eid al-Fitr

پنج شنبه 7 اكتبر 2010


Jila Baniyaghoob*

Friday, 10 September 2010

I have just read a report by the Iranian news agency Fars saying that the staff at this state-owned news agency are upset because for the Palestinians held prisoner by the Zionist regime, Eid al-Fitar is not different from the other days of the year; that the Zionist regime does not allow the Palestinian prisoners to celebrate this day together; and that many of the prisoners are held in solitary confinement.

As a family member of a political prisoner in Iran, I am very sorry that for the Palestinian prisoners Eid al-Fitr is not different from the other days. I may even understand the feelings of the Palestinian families better than the staff at the state-owned Fars news agency, because I can understand how a Palestinian prisoner and his family feel when the prisoner is not allowed to contact his family even on Eid al-Fitr.

I had allowed myself a 1% chance that while the prisoners in Evin’s Ward 350 had not been allowed to make any phone calls for two months, today they would be allowed to make a one minute call each to their families. But even on Eid al-Fitr they did not receive such a permission, and their Eid al-Fitr turned out like all the other days, without a phone call and without contacting their families.

Since I had read in the news that thanks to Eid al-Fitr, one of the three Americans who have been in prison in Iran for a year would be released, I thought that maybe the Iranian prisoners in Ward 350 would be given the privilege of making a phone call after two months. You see, my expectations are not very high. On Eid al-Fitr, I and the other prisoners did not expect Bahman to be released. We only expected a phone call from Evin. That’s all!

I can understand the feelings of the Palestinian prisoners and their families very well. Bahman’s mother who’s in her eighties is ill and immobile and has not heard her son’s voice for months. She too had thought that in honor of the Moslem people’s great festivity, prison officials in the Islamic Republic of Iran would allow her son to speak to her on the phone for one minute only, to say, ‘Mother, have a happy Eid!’ But there was no phone call from Evin; neither for her, nor for any other prisoner’s mother.

I can understand the feelings of the Palestinian prisoners and their families very well because I know that in Ward 350, today is not like all the other days, but harder than any other day. I know that since waking up, Bahman and his friends have been thinking of their families, their downhearted mothers, their little children, and their disenchanted partners. I can imagine that the Palestinian prisoners too must have exactly the same feelings as our prisoners’.

I know that today the prisoners in Ward 350 did not even feel like doing their daily chores; that they just squatted on their beds, thinking of their families, wishing a hundred times that the prison officials would allow them to make a short phone call on such day; and that they remembered very soon that because of the Eid, the prison officials are not there at the prison all, but have gone home to spend time with their families.

I can understand the feelings of Palestinian prisoners in solitary confinement on Eid al-Fitr, because I myself have been in solitary confinement on other Eids, and Bahman too has been in solitary confinement on numerous religious holidays, including Eid al-Fitr. Probably – only probably – I have a much more realistic understanding of such feelings than the staff of a state-owned news agency whose only knowledge of solitary confinement has been gained through the news, and perhaps through reading fiction.

I can understand the feelings of the Palestinian prisoners because I have repeatedly heard from Bahman that Eid days in prison are even more depressing than other days, because on such days the prisoners miss their families even more.

I can understand the feelings of the Palestinian prisoners better than the staff of the state-owned Fars news agency. I know that on this great festive occasion for Moslem people, no one offers them sweets and their food is as tasteless and foul as on any other day. I know all this because I know that in Iranian prisons too, no one offers sweets to prisoners.

I myself have spent Eid al-Fitr in Evin prison and have felt very deeply that Eid days in Evin are not like the other days, but are more depressing.

I understand the feelings of the Palestinian prisoners and their families deeply and hope that their hard days will come to an end soon. I know that the Palestinian prisoners and their families also pray that the hard days will come to an end soon for us and for our prisoners. From afar, I shake the hands of the Palestinian prisoners’ families and say to them: ‘Happy Eid. Some day life will be green for you, and for us.’

*Iranian journalist






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