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Voices of Protest: The Iranian Word/ Shirin Sadeghi/Huffington post

mahmag  •  28 July, 2009

shirin sadeghi

Iranians have been protesting for centuries -- if you could read Persian, you'd know.
They are a nation with a keen sense of their rights, and an audacity to speak up for themselves, whether it's in the streets, on the page or on the web.

........
They are also a nation that has never had a truly representative government and thus has adapted its discourse to the guile and euphemism which are required to express thoughts -- political in nature -- which could otherwise tempt misfortune.

Double entendres, metaphors and symbolism are a part of the gift of "gap" (the Persian word for "gab") so it is no wonder that literature holds such an eminent position in Iranian culture.

For centuries, poetry in particular has been the ultimate form of expression for Iranians: Iranian poetry is a manual for life and thought, a centuries-old avenue for political dissent.

"In its essence, literature is not tied to politics. If literature has any duty, it is a commitment to language and the creation of beauty," says Esmail Kho'i, Iran's pre-eminent poet philosopher, "however in certain circumstances, writers and poets become forced to give rise to politics. The reality is that they do not seek politics, it is politics which obliges them."

Kho'i leads the pack of Iranian poets who have turned to their craft to protest not merely a disputed election, but a system of government which for 30 years has mandated a life of religious fundamentalism for a nation which doesn't exactly like being told what to do.

"Today's Iran is the victim of one of the ugliest, most anti-human, most anti-culture, most anti-woman, most anti-beauty, most anti-smiling, most anti-happiness, most anti-everything systems of government in its entire history," Kho'i says.
khoi


The poet -- bright, sensitive -- captures the collective anger and pain of three decades of holy governance and the fear and inhumanity which has become its legacy. Kho'i's newest collection of poetry includes the poem "Elegy for Mousavi", a conversation with Mir Hossein Mousavi, the presidential candidate whose loss in the disputed election sparked the initial protests.
Mr. Mousavi, if you hear me, you will never forget

For poets like Badihian and Kho'i the inescapable necessity of engaging with politics is beyond the control of any Iranian writer or poet. "For Iranians anywhere they live right now, their heart and thoughts are with what is happening in Iran right now," Badihian says, "for poets and writers in particular, our reply to the painful memories of the past decades and the continuing pain of today is expressed in the way we weave our words."

When all else fails, even silence is a defiant statement in Iranian literature. "The power of silence and the intentional refusal to take pen to paper can be a political act," Kho'i says. Poets and writers, Kho'i contends, can also be paralyzingly overwhelmed by the troubles in Iran.

"When Khomeini says Islam governs a human being from before he or she is born until long after he or she dies, this means we are faced with a system of government which even in our place of rest, or in our hospital room, or in our bed, or in the toilet concerns itself with governing its citizenry," Kho'i says, "then even lovemaking becomes a political act. Even going to the toilet becomes a political act. In such circumstances, anything you do or don't do is political."

There is an old saying in Persian, that every Iranian has written at least one line of poetry in their lifetime -- one can only imagine how many millions of lines have been written this summer alone.


With deception and sedition, the Ayatollah advanced his work
Now, you must move past this sedition

Now is the time to choose, and nothing else
Woe be upon you should you take it lightly

The Republic and the Caliphate are as water and fire
The presence of one will eliminate the other



In the wake of this summer's anti-government protests in Iran, poetry in particular has again stepped into its comfortable role as a purveyor of political dissent for Iranians. Poet Mahnaz Badihian runs Mahmag.org, a multilingual (English, Persian, Spanish and Italian) literary web magazine which derives much of its Persian-language content from unsolicited literature from within Iran.

"We've always received much attention from Iranians in the country -- they are extremely passionate about having their voices heard," Badihian says, "but since the election, the number of submissions has significantly increased." The poets and writers, she says, are doing what they have done for years now: "escaping the void of censorship and fear to express their deepest emotions, experiences, and thoughts."
Mahnaz Badihian


Badihian's own poetry has reflected the solidarity that many Iranians abroad feel with their fellow ham-vatanis (literally: same-nationers) and their courageous efforts to protest against the system of government. In her poem "The Rooftoppers," she reflects on the reports of the thousands of Iranians who have regularly taken to their rooftops at night to perpetuate the protests beyond dusk -- at the risk of having their homes invaded by security forces.

Our home is possessed
At night we turn to our rooftop
From rooftop to rooftop we protest
Asking ferociously: where is the compassionate God
Our voice echoes with the wind, blow dear courageous wind
Our voice grows taller than poplar trees, so together we stand
Up there, our naked souls together invent bravery, in the moonlight
From rooftop to rooftop we go, till the gaze of morning glories calls us
Up there, again we ask ourselves: who measured God on the rooftops
But we know up there the hands of fear are bigger than the eyes of truth


For poets like Badihian and Kho'i the inescapable necessity of engaging with politics is beyond the control of any Iranian writer or poet. "For Iranians anywhere they live right now, their heart and thoughts are with what is happening in Iran right now," Badihian says, "for poets and writers in particular, our reply to the painful memories of the past decades and the continuing pain of today is expressed in the way we weave our words."

When all else fails, even silence is a defiant statement in Iranian literature. "The power of silence and the intentional refusal to take pen to paper can be a political act," Kho'i says. Poets and writers, Kho'i contends, can also be paralyzingly overwhelmed by the troubles in Iran.

"When Khomeini says Islam governs a human being from before he or she is born until long after he or she dies, this means we are faced with a system of government which even in our place of rest, or in our hospital room, or in our bed, or in the toilet concerns itself with governing its citizenry," Kho'i says, "then even lovemaking becomes a political act. Even going to the toilet becomes a political act. In such circumstances, anything you do or don't do is political."

There is an old saying in Persian, that every Iranian has written at least one line of poetry in their lifetime -- one can only imagine how many millions of lines have been written this summer alone.
....
first published in Huffington post. please check the link below for more information and links
huffingtonpost.com/shirin-sadeghi
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Comments

Posted by Rhina  •  10 March, 2010  •  01:10:21

Dear all, Please check this poem by a poet named Bhuwan Thapaliya. This fits exactly in Iran. Keep speaking, keep fighting, keep the revolution card rolling.

Suppression, I accept not
by: Bhuwan Thapaliya
submitted by: Rhina

I came
into this world
not like the river
but like a drop of water
and will soon evaporate

Though,
I am only
a drop of water
in the majestic ocean
of nature

I yearn
to create
a vigorous ripple
of freedom,
in the eternity of the water

For I am a man
of eternal freedom,
and suppression
I accept not ...
I will not accept it

The living God
within me urges
me to be free, and to
march on the road
of freedom sans any dread

My heart,
like Einstein,
thinks in another dimension
unknown and unknowable ...
even to my own mind

And like Goethe,
looks at things
in a different manner,
different than those thinkers
bestowed with pristine minds

Freedom,
the gift of God,
is the inherent right
of every individual
in this compressed world

I will fight
till the end
to free the masses
from the grip of suppression
and ignite the lamp of freedom

I will free the masses
or die in the attempt
but I will never
live to see
the naked dance of repression

I am not afraid
of those suppressors,
nor am I afraid of the death
that they are planning for me;
they can kill me but not freedom forever

My blood boils
whenever I see the strong ones
pulverising the lean, and my heart cries
whenever I see the starving pauper
in the abattoir of the prosperous butcher

For me
a red rose is a red rose
it is not white
just because they call it white
to disguise the ignorant

They can
conquer Everest
but not my spirit
they can stagnate the river
but not my impetus

They can
take my
sight away
but not
my vision of freedom

They can
cut my
tongue into pieces
but not
my voice of freedom

They can
stab me with the
dagger of despotism
but not impede
the blood of freedom

I know
the road to freedom
is blocked with obstacles
but obstacles cause no despair
if they are encountered with hope

We must act now
and not merely
just look away
when our freedom
is threatened from within

Because
it is better
to perish without freedom
than to have a yearn for freedom
but not the valour to harvest it

Donít be a coward ...

Be prepared to receive
bullets to your chest
because, in the struggle
of freedom, tolerance
of suppression is an offence

Stand up ... stand up

Gather your courage. Come out
into the field; letís march hand in
hand together, right beneath the
nose of the suppressors, for the
emancipation of our freedom

Let us not forget that ...

The ocean is composed of drops
of water, and all drops possess
equal potentials, but only, when
they mix with other drops do
they form a powerful bond

So ...

Listen, my oppressed brothers
listen, my trodden sisters
listen ... listen
to the natural desire
of your ceaseless soul

do not fear
trust your soul
and march ahead
with a resolute heart
for the better tomorrow

And scatter
the seeds of freedom,
where does it go?
it does not matter
scatter it more with hope

Welcome the freedom
welcome it today
and enjoy it evermore
but do not use your freedom
to suppress the peopleís soul
to suppress the peopleís soul
--------------------------

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