In Memory of a Heroic Iranian Woman, Pouran Najafi;
On the occasion of International Women’s Day, the Opposition movement against the ruling religious fascism in Iran has lost one of her steadfast warriors.
Pouran Najafi is one of the 1000 “Arshafi” women who forcefully relocated to Camp Liberty late last year. On February 9 2013, Camp Liberty was target of a rocket attacked by Iranian regimes Quad forces aided by Iraq Maliki regime. Pouran was among the people martyred as a result of this attack. In her fight against the ruling Mullah’s regime Pouran had reached what she metaphorically describes as “The Soaring Point in her Flight”.
Pouran became a MEK sympathizer in 1979 while attending a technical school in the city of Rasht in Northern Iran. She became increasingly involved in political campaign to spread the truth because she loved her people and yearned for their freedom. As an activist, she was well known to regime’s agents whom finally put her in prison. She was imprisoned in regime’s dungeons for five years. She was first imprisoned in her home town (Rasht) jail, and then later in Ghezal-Hesar Prison in Tehran.
Her prison memoirs titled “Flight from Bondage” pays tribute to her fellow political prisoners whom gave their lives for believing in freedom. She writes: “They took their flight to a soaring new height, but I still await my moment, to fly away”.
Pouran never surrendered to imprisonment. Her calm demeanor, hid her fighter spirit which did not give in to the circumstances, no matter how difficult it gets. She used every possible occasion to resist the imprisonment and she was ever vigilant to take advantage of every opportunity to escape from the enemy. Despite several failed escape attempts, she never gave up. If she could not escape herself, then she helped in the escape of two of her friends. Her participation in her friends’ escape came in with heavy price. In her memoir, she recalls the consequences:
“The interrogators pretended that they had arrested Masoomeh & N. (my two escaped friends). They were screaming in my ear and demanding that I explain that how I provided for their escape. I responded that since you have them in custody then you can ask themselves, how they escaped. I told them that if I could provide for their escape, I would had done something for myself. After mocking the torturers, the barrage of kicking and hitting started again. The next morning began with a series of more psychological pressures on all of us. The prison guards reduced our food and limited our access to toilet. Then, we were separated from each other. Some were sent to solitary confinement, me and few others were thrown into a 2×2 meter room used to house the buildings heating furnace (Furnace Room). This room had absolutely no openings to outside. It was located next to a smelly washroom. After half an hour of staying in the room, breathing was difficult. We were then given a bucket and some water container and were told that we will not be let out. Not for a break, not even for going to toilet. Whatever had to be done had to be done inside the room! They told us that they were going to bury us there. The guards did not give us any food the first day. We were suffocating from the heat and lack of air. Every 24 hours, guards came to empty the bucket for us. After few days, we were all sick. We took turns to breath from a key hole which was the only source of fresh air for us. But they could not stand that either and plugged the key hole with cotton swabs and small pieces of rags. We were denied even the small key hole to breathe! Hours and days were too long in that small crowded room. Our skin color had turned yellow. we were too weak to even speak. But this was a battle for our lives. We were all like volcanos ready to erupt. We banged on the door all day protesting the treatment that we were receiving. We shouted, sang and kept our spirits high. Knowing that the guards could hear us gave us the strength to keep going. We can fight them. After some time, guards allowed us to go to bathroom once a day. We continued our fight”.
Poran writes in other parts of her memoir:
“When I entered Evin Prison, I was sent directly to solitary confinement for 2 days without being asked any questions. It was a dirt cell with a toilet in it. It was so small that it looked more like a bathroom converted to a holding cell to make up for the shortage of cells. In that cell, cockroaches ruled! There were so many of them that it would have been impossible to kill them all. So I had no option except to recognize their presence.
Seconds felt like hours. I did not know why I were brought there and what they were going to do with me.
But slowly, I could see this bathroom had many residences like me. I scrounged in a corner to keep my distance from the cockroaches. Leaning against the wall, my eye caught the scratched out names of the people whom had signed their names on the wall. As I read their names, keeping a count of them, I could envision the history of this cell parading in front of me. Everybody coming here had signed their names in memorial. I don’t remember the exact number of names, but it was over one hundred. I was crying as I was counting names. Finding blood stains on the wall.
I could feel that I was not alone there. A mysterious warmth had surrounded me. I added my name to the list of others. I now have joined the rest of the travelers whom had visited this place. The feeling of loneliness and anxiety had given way to fulfillment and strangely, strength!
At midnight on the second day, the prison guard opened the cell door and abruptly said, ‘Are you Pouran Najafi?’. ‘Yes’, I replied. He then asked, ‘ Are you ready to publically confess?’ my answer was NO! With no reaction he shut the door. I did not sleep that night. I was preparing myself for death.