The Mothers of Park Laleh issued an important statement on the occasion of Teacher’s Day this year. We disseminate the translation along with the original here. We will forward their statement to Education International, a teachers’ union representing more than 30 million teachers worldwide that has supported Iranian teachers like Farzad Kamangar, along with our request to continue their support for teachers in Iran who continue to demand their rights despite ruthless state oppression and unjust working conditions.
“Teacher, I learned lessons of life and liberty from you!” A Statement from Mothers of Park Laleh for Teacher’s Day
Translated by Laleh Gillani
“You can’t be afraid of everything all the time; once we’re on the way, our fear disappears.”
We are observing Teacher’s Day under such circumstances that our country’s educators have been denied the slightest social and trade union rights, and whenever they scream for justice, they are forced into silence by either empty promises or by torment, torture, imprisonment, execution and dismissal from work.
We are commemorating Teacher’s Day in an atmosphere where expressing one’s beliefs and thoughts is an offense, and our teachers and scholars are fed up with the rule of censorship and inquisition. What is more painful is the fact that the majority of conspiracies to convict others are often spearheaded by those who have not been endowed with the least amount of literacy. The government came to power with slogans in support of liberty and emancipation but instead began to arrest professors, teachers and students, transforming Iran’s prisons into schools while changing the face of Iran’s universities into military bases.
Since a hundred years ago, Iranian mothers have raised educators such as Samad Behrangi, Abolhassan Khan Ali and other teachers with fighting spirits who learned how to be free. In turn, the same educators trained other children belonging to the same generation as Mothers of Park Laleh. This chain of continuity in human development eventually delivered a child such as Farzad Kamangar to our society, a child committed to sacrifice himself for human prosperity and to end discrimination, a child who became a teacher himself and trained informed, defiant students who are not willing to accept the status quo and yield without an argument.
In 1961, Dr. Khan Ali was killed by a bullet during teachers’ protests and strikes. Samad Behrangi later said about him, “Learn from Dr. Khan Ali and take back your rights.”
Samad was a teacher who taught his students [through his writings and stories] how to reach the ocean [of freedom] without anxiety and fear. These children [similar to the main character in the story of the Little Black Fish] woke up [and became self-aware] after being sleep for so long. In contrast, they didn’t become students whose paths led them to a spinning, never ending cycle of intolerance and abuse of others. Their course of life didn’t lead them to become individuals who arrest and massacre others or with bullets, knives and daggers murder people on the streets in cold blood. Now cemeteries such as Behesht-e Zahra which used to be the resting place for our dead have been transformed into the burial grounds for the fallen. Since the early years after the revolution until now, new cemeteries such as Khavaran with unmarked and unknown graves have been built in different cities all over the country.
We, Mothers of Park Laleh, with appreciation towards all teachers fighting for freedom throughout our country, commemorate May 9th and the anniversary of Farzad Kamangar’s execution and cherish the memory of a teacher whose lessons of love and liberty persevere to this day. Hand in hand with our country’s teachers, we stand alongside our educators in support of their union demands and request all imprisoned teachers to be set free.
Until we achieve our demands that include freedom of all political prisoners, abolition of capital punishment and prosecution and punishment of those responsible for crimes committed during the last thirty two years, we continue to stand together with our defiant nation.
Wishing to attain freedom, equality and social justice,
Mothers of Park Laleh (Mourning)
May 2, 2011