It's my birthday today.
At my insistence, my mother recently recounted the story of my birth. I’m sharing it with you today to bring attention to the Islamic Republic’s complete disregard for human life. ICYMI there is a revolution happening in Iran right now to remove the brutal Islamic Republic that has been occupying the country for the past 43 years. While this story is from decades past it is not all that different than what is happening in Iran today. I hope you read it, and help me be the voice of the Iranian people — that’s all I want for my 37th birthday.
A note and a caution: I call my mom Maman throughout this story, as I do in real life. Maman, the French word for mother, is commonly borrowed by Iranians. Parts of this story are graphic and not for the faint of heart.
When Maman was seven months pregnant, she was arrested for political activism against the Islamic Republic. She was thrown into solitary confinement at an unmarked building in central Tehran where she was interrogated under severe torture for several weeks. With a sham trial and without any permitted legal representation, Maman was sentenced to three years in prison and transferred to the infamous Evin prison. She was initially held in solitary before being moved to a small room under 24/7 lockdown with 40 other female political prisoners, where she would remain up until my birth.
In these crowded rooms, the women were allowed out three times per day — morning, afternoon, and evening — and only for prayer. It was also the only time they were permitted to use the bathroom. In between these holy bathroom breaks, the women kept a large bucket for bodily fluids. They covered the bucket with a thin fabric cloth folded onto itself as their most resourceful attempt to keep the stench at bay. These are the conditions under which Maman spent the last two months of her pregnancy.
I arrived 10 days earlier than the due date given to Maman prior to her arrest. On January 8, 1986 — the day before my birth — Maman began to bleed severely. During one of the holy bathroom breaks she recounted pieces of bloody flesh released from her body. As she walked back with streams of blood down her legs, she was locked back in the cell once the fifteen minutes for morning prayers were up. A cell mate, a nurse by training, attended to Maman. It was the cell mate’s insistence, screams, and cries, that finally brought a female guard to the cell. Maman was brought to the hospital’s nursing station, with no doctor or equipment on site to give birth. After long debates and bureaucratic prison approvals, Maman, now unconscious, was brought to a public hospital. She does not recall the trip there, only waking up in a room on a hospital bed with a veiled woman looking down on her.
That woman was a prison guard who had accompanied Maman to the hospital and remained standing directly above her bed. The guard told Maman that she must maintain a lie: The guard was her friendly neighbor, the father was at work unable to attend, and she had in act of neighborly compassion driven Maman to the hospital. She mustn’t tell the nurses and doctors any differently, the guard instructed Maman. Or else, there would be consequences on the other side of her return to Evin. The meddling neighbor insisted that the doctor perform a C-section. Get the birth done quickly, the neighborly guard told the doctor.
A nurse put Maman on a bed to be transported for a scan. As they moved through the hospital hallways, in a moment where the guard trailed behind, the attentive nurse leaned closer as she wheeled Maman and asked in a whisper “is this really your neighbor?” No. She is a prison guard, and I am a political prisoner. The nurse, holding back tears swelling in her eyes, offered to call Maman’s parents to share the news. Don’t. It’s too dangerous for you and for me. After a long and complicated labor in which the omni present guard remained in the birthing room, I was pulled out with forceps and Maman left in critical condition with severe bleeding requiring multiple stitches.
The neighbor revealed her authority to the head nurse and demanded our immediate release. With her authority, we were was forcibly discharged. Five hours after giving birth to me at 12:15am on January 9, 1986, Maman and I were placed on the cold metal floor in the back of an unmarked van. As the driver hurled through the streets to Tehran to get us back to Evin, Maman and I, clung tightly to her body, were thrown from side-to-side and front-to-back with the driver’s every turn and brake.
We spent that evening, and the next year, together in Evin.
This story is nearly four decades old, but the Islamic Republic’s complete disregard for human life has continues today. The only way to put an end to it is to put an end to the Islamic Republic. What can you do if you’re just learning about all of this?
Learn about what’s happening in Iran today. Follow trusted English sources such as @1500tasvir_en, @SamanArbabi, and @ksadjadpour to get informed.
Bring awareness to the Iran Revolution. Every time you share, in public or in private, you give a voice to the Iranian people.
That’s a start. Awareness builds public pressure to isolate the Islamic Republic leading to internal fractures which are needed to bring down the regime.
Iranian protesters are being executed right now. Mohammad Boroughani and Mohammad Qobadlou are at imminent risk of execution. Please be their voice.
Thank you for reading.
Happy birthday, Yashar. Thank you for sharing yours and your maman’s story. She’s a brave woman and a fighter – as are the many thousands of women (and men) in Iran fighting right now. Thank you for being a voice for them. Be omide azadi ✌️
Happy birthday Yashar jan, Thanks alot for sgaring your story with all of us. We are all proud of you and your mom. Passing time showing the truth to the whole world that despite of all suffering ,on the other side, how it make you & your mom strong & brave.🌹🌹🌹🌹