Illustration by Farshid Mesghali
We deeply mourn the loss of beloved Farzad Kamangar, Ali Heidarian, Farhad Vakili, Shirin Alam Hooli and Mehdi Eslamian.
After the first torrents of tears pass, then we can read again some of the words of a most beautiful schoolteacher from his last letter to the world:
Is it possible to sit behind the same desk as Samad, look into the eyes of the children of this land, and still remain silent?
Is it possible to be a teacher and not show the path to the sea to the little fish of the country? What difference does it make if they come from Aras, Karoon, Sirvan or Sarbaz Rood? What difference does it make when the sea is a mutual destiny, to be united as one? The sun is our guide. Let our reward be prison, that is fine!
Is it possible to carry the heavy burden of being a teacher and be responsible for spreading the seeds of knowledge and still be silent? Is it possible to see the lumps in the throats of the students and witness their thin and malnourished faces and keep quiet?
Is it possible to be in the year of no justice and fairness and fail to teach the H for Hope and E for Equality, even if such teachings land you in Evin prison or result in your death?
I cannot imagine being a teacher in the land of Samad, Khan Ali, and Ezzati and not join the eternity of *Aras. I cannot imagine witnessing the pain and poverty of the people of this land and fail to give our hearts to the river and the sea, to roar and to inundate.
I know that one day, this harsh and uneven road will be paved for teachers and the suffering you endured will be a badge of honour so everyone can see that a teacher is a teacher, even if his or her path is blocked by the selection process, prison, and execution. The little black fish and not the heron bestows honour on the teacher.
~Farzad Kamangar, “Be Strong, Comrades“
[*Translator note: Aras is a river in northwest Iran, bordering Iran and Azerbaijan. Samad drowned in the river in the summer of 1968. Some have considered the circumstance of his death suspicious and blamed agents of the Shah’s regime for his death]
we will carry you in our hearts