Open letters written to the officials and heads of Iran's ruling establishment have a long tradition in Iran's history. They are eyewitness accounts which record abuses of power and testimonies against the ruling despots by the meek and humble citizens and individuals in Iran. Letters which tickle the public conscience and stir the emotions. There have been many such notable open letters in Iran's recent history but this moving letter by the 86 year old mother of Ghasem Shole Sadi will undoubtedly rank high amongst them. It is an equivalent of a David and Goliath story. A frail 86 year old woman versus the most powerful tyrant of our times, Iran's Supreme Leader.
Ghasem Shole Sadi, was the former MP for Shiraz in the third and fourth Majlis (Parliament) after the 1979 revolution. He was also Tehran university lecturer in International Law and Relations and the attorney for many political prisoners. In 2002 he publicly voiced his concerns about the legalities of the way in which the Supreme Leader was chosen and was subsequently jailed for 18 months for daring to criticise the Supreme Leader. Shole Sadi was arrested again after the post-election protests and sentenced to three years in prison and banned from lecturing in the university and from practicing law. He is said to have suffered injuries to his spinal cord as a result of the tortures he has had to injure and is facing paralysis in his left side.
I hope, I have done a worthy job in translating this moving letter by Sholeh Sadi's 86 year old mother"
"Your Imperial Majesti, Ali Khamenei,
"O tyrant, who oppressest thy subjects,
How long wilt thou persevere in this?
" - Iranian poet, Sa'adi
Your Majesty, you may be surprised why I am calling you this, but this letter will itself explain the reason, because this letter is written by a bereaved 86 year old mother, who is mourning her martyred son, Asghar (in the war against Saddam) and who is also grief stricken by what is happening to her other jailed son, Ghassem, imprisoned illegally and unjustly by your agents in a country which you are the head of.
At a time, when your son Mojtaba was at school, my teenage son, Asghar who was one of the top students in Shiraz. Asghar left his studies and went to the fronts to defend his country. Perhaps you have a good memory, in which case you should remember, at the time when my Asghar was blown up by one of Saddam's rocket propelled guns, your respected sister had joined the enemy and her husband's voice could be heard from Saddam's radio.
Half of my Asghar's body was blown away and in my last farewell with my son, I could only bury half of his body, but I said to myself, I have more sons and all of Iran's youth are like my children. At the same time, my other son, Dr. Ghassem Shole Sadi was defending Iran's right in the diplomatic and legal fronts. After my Asghar was martyred in the front, I sent my other son to the front. Why? because I didn't want the trenches and the barricades to become unmanned and I am still committed to this and I will once again defend my country along with my children without worrying which side your relatives will choose to stand.
Your Majesty, the martyrdom of my son Asghar, did not cause me the grief I am suffering now for the imprisonment of my other son today, for Asghar was killed by the enemy but my other son who is imprisoned by you has been chained for defending the rights of his people and for his free-thinking. Were you not the one who were advocating for 'free-thinking' yourself?
Ten years ago, my son Ghassem was jailed by your judge Haddad, for having posed some legal questions that criticised you. Judge Haddad is the same judiciary judge who has now been suspended for his part in the crimes of rape and torture committed against peaceful protesters in Kahrizak. Will the shame of Kahrizak ever be wiped away from the face of the Islamic Republic?
Such sentences and such courts do not describe that utopia that you portray in your speeches, do they? The sentence against my son was so baseless that even the former chief of your judiciary, who I understand was once your seminary master, called it against the rightful judgement and asked for the sentence to be reviewed and for article 18 to be applied to the sentence. I can tell you now that no such review has been carried out. I am a mother who has raised several lawyers and therefore I may be familiar with some basics of law. It is a mystery to me on what basis, your unjust judiciary, who should support the rights and freedoms of the people, has refrained from releasing my son and insists on carrying out a sentence which has been dissolved?
Your Majesty, because of my advanced age and my fatigued and exhausted body, I can not even travel the long distance to Evin prison and walk up its stairs to visit my son from behind the bars. For more than a year, like prophet Jacob, I have even been deprived of my Joseph's scent and yet despite the prison doctor's recommendation that as a result of the damage to Ghassem's spinal cord, he is unable to endure the rest of his sentence, I do not even ask you for a prison leave for Ghassem. It seems the judiciary officials rather ignore their own expert's recommendations and are intent to keep my son in prison until he is completely paralysed, even though his prison sentence passed by your judge Salavati has now expired.
Your Majesty, every Iranian New Year, I used to light only one candle for my martyred son, Asghar, but this year, I also lit a candle for my jailed son, Ghassem. How many candles did you light for the Iranian New Year? Do you even observe the Iranian customs and traditions? I feel there is a political motive in keeping my son in prison. If this is the case and there is a political motive to keep him in prison for longer than his original sentence, then I have to say earnestly that you are frightened of my son and if so, then I thank the Almighty who has given me a son who scares the leader of the Islamic world and it must be because of your fear of him that he is still held in prison. For my son's pen is more solid than Moses's stick and his tongue is like a strong arm and his knowledge is the undoing of your spells. If you had the ability to answer his questions with logic and reason, what need would there have been of chaining him?
That's why I am not asking you to grant him with prison leave, my son is a lawyer and a university lecturer, he is neither related to the high ranking clerics nor to the regime officials to receive such favours and I expect no such favours from you.
I have heard my son is incarcerated in section 350 of Evin prison amongst some of his university students. His crime is posing some legal questions about your authority, now if they ask you, who claim to advocate 'free thinking', what have you to say for yourself and your slogans?
Corruption is wreaking havoc across the country. If they ask you who is responsible for such unprecedented corruption during an administration which you have fully supported and backed, what do you have to say for yourself?
How is it, your Majesty, that you liken your critics to Talheh and Zubair's defections from the Prophet and yet liken your own rule to that of Imam Ali's just and uncompromising rule, but when it comes to executing justice you stumble and when it comes to the $3Billion banking embezzlement case you ask the media not to delve too much into the case?
Your Majesty, tell me what wrong my son has done other than having asked you some questions about your position as the Supreme Leader, that you have resorted to the iron blade instead of answering him with reason and logic?
Does the regime which claim to be Islamic and wants to be the centre of the world not need a blade of reason and clarity and accountability too? Millions in Iran today face abject poverty, dissidents are jailed, Iran's national wealth is either embezzled or handed on a plate to Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas, Bolivia and ....would all this money not be better spent here? Who is responsible for all this? the widespread poverty and the brain drain is the result of which administration and what is your responsibility? Why are the country's elite and academics treated in this way? Some are imprisoned, some are sacked, some are forced into retirement and some are assassinated
. My son is one of those who is in jail now without even a pretence to observe the law of the land. Your judiciary is not worthy of our nation, they free the thieves and jail the victims and we have seen all this in previous embezzlement cases and in the case of Shahram Jazayeri too. Many who were the main perpetrators of the crime were let go. The cases of Palizdar and the savage attacks on universities in 1999 and in 2009 need no further reminding either. The students who were the victims were judged to be the guilty and the assailants enjoyed immunity. Let us not even go into the 2009 election fiasco.
Your Majesty, the more time passes by, this nation and I realise how justified my son was in asking you those questions ten years ago, but whether my son was right in questioning your qualifications to lead this country or not, I see you as the man responsible for what is happening today and you will have to bear the consequences.
Your Majesty, as I said before, I am not asking you to grant my son with prison leave but I want you to pay attention to these points below:
1- Either kill me, like they killed Parvaneh Forouhar and put the dagger through her heart, and send me to my grave so I can be with my martyred son, Asghar
They decapitate heads and say its the king's orders
It may be the king's edict but this is not the way of kings
2- Order your henchmen to arrest me too and imprison me next to my son, so I can once again smell his scent
God, Almighty, the King's tyranny has surpassed it all
When will the people be saved from under his shadow?
If you care not for this country, we care passionately for Iran.