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Why Are You Afraid of Us?

More Than Twenty Arrested During the Peaceful March of the "Mourning Mothers"

Tuesday 30 June 2009

By: Azadeh Hajizadeh


Following the appeal by a group of mourning mothers who intended to hold a peaceful march at seven in the evening, in silence around the pond in Laleh Park in Tehran, I went to the park, even though I am not a mother. All the same to show my respect for these dear mothers I did not want them to be alone.

These mothers in their appeal had written that at seven in the evening, the same time at which Neda Aghasoltani was mercilessly gunned down and as a result of which she had become a symbol of our children’s resistance, they wished to assemble in the area where Neda had been killed in Amir Kabir Street near Laleh Park, and to display through their silence their anger and grief.

A number of those mothers whose children are among the disappeared brought photographs of their sons and a number of the mothers also came with black candles and ribbons so that they might set up signs of mourning near the water feature. It was clear that whatever they wanted, perhaps their silence had deafened the ears of the authorities who had could put up with it no longer and who sent forces on foot to surround them. At five in the afternoon the police forbade the women to sit on the benches near the pond. As they were expelling the women from the park, some of those who were protesting said that everyone should go but that this one woman should remain so that they might help her.

A woman in a black chador was protesting, saying, "tell me that the government is a military one, then I will go". They were insulting the woman in such an obscene way that another mother could no longer put up with it and said to them, "we consider you different from the plainclothes agents and you shouldn’t speak in this way, you are the security forces and you should speak in a lawful manner". In response, the officer in charge of the security forces insulted the woman in an even uglier way and said that everyone should move to the other side of the park.

In the program it had been stated that the silence would begin at seven, but at five the women, who were mostly middle-aged or older, had occupied the second row of benches, behind the first one, and the number of women had increased so much that they actually prevented women, especially those wearing black, from entering the park, and then brought police cars into the park. One officer started filming the faces of the women, which met with unanimous protest. The officers conducted everyone to one particular area and began to beat and abuse them, arresting a number of them and breaking up the demonstration. The number of women arrested and taken to the Shapur temporary detention center was more than twenty. Perhaps others were taken to the Vozara detention center, but we have no information from other detention centers.

In any case, in my opinion this was a spontaneous movement that can be repeated every week, as long as the police consider the matter more reasonably. Why is this? Because this gathering neither closed roads, nor involved chanting slogans, nor the distribution of declarations. None of the above! It simply involved a number of concerned and mourning mothers sitting on the ground a distance apart and wanting with their silence to raise a mighty cry.

It is unbelievable in a country like ours in which the president says that freedom exists to a near absolute degree that these gentlemen can be so scared of a handful of concerned and mourning mothers that they appear on foot in such force that one would imagine (God forbid) that the USA or Israel had invaded. They surround the park in order to create a strange fear and terror among people lest they commit any sort of fault.

I am ashamed. I do not know why. I cannot look into the eyes of these mothers, but their voice resounds in my ears:

"Why are they afraid of us? They are making a mistake, they should let us put on our ceremonies and we would remain calm.

We’ll come so often that we’ll get on their nerves, because don’t we have the right after all? Do the bullies have all the rights?

You see, this crown and throne has kept its promise to no-one, and it won’t keep its promise to them either, they must hold onto their own respect.

How should our children have committed a fault for believing in justice?

It’s our fault, if we hadn’t gone into the streets thirty years ago our children would not be in trouble today.

My son was supposed to be taking the university entrance exam, I said to them, let him go for the exam, I ran after them for a week but they did not keep their word. He studied for a year for the exam but he has been passed over.

State television said rioters killed Neda? They mean the people, but who’ll believe that?

If rioters killed her, why don’t they give permission for mourning ceremonies?

Don’t let them say that the state broadcaster is at all a national broadcaster. I e-mailed an appeal to the state broadcaster, if it was truly national someone would have come along today and made a good report about this. And then they have the nerve to say to us that you are listening to the voices of foreigners!

They also brought along female police. Really, what are the authorities thinking? Do they have an easy life? Do they not see misfortunes? Don’t their own children come along to these marches? Why do they put so much effort into repression? Really, aren’t they ashamed at themselves because of how old we are?"

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