Farzad Kamangar's story, the Kurdish Teacher Tortured, Sentenced to Death
Farzad Kamangar is borned in 1975. He was a teacher during 12 years in Kamiaran, a village of Eastern Kurdistan (Northwestern Iran). He is married and has children. He belonged to the Teachers’ Union of Kurdistan and to other activist associations. He wrote for the review Royan, the review of Education department of Kamiyaran and for newspapers of local Human Rights associations.

He has been arrested on August 19th 2006, by the secret services of Sine. During 4 months after his arrest, his family had no news and authorities denied to be responsible of his disappearance.

Farzad Kamangar had been in fact transfered in the 9th Prison of Evin in Tehran, a non-official center of detention of the VEVAK, the Iranian services.
Farzad Kamangar, Kurdish teacher tortured and sentenced to death
In a letter he secretly send out of his prison, he told how he was isolated and tortured, beaten at his first interrogatory just because he is Kurd. He should stayed also on a chair, bound during 24 hours,www.ekurd.net without food nor possibility to go to the lavatory. Then he was imprisoned in a small cell, without fresh air. He could not get in touch with his family or his lawyer. He faced also psychological pressures, for example threatening against his relatives. Once, he attempted to commit suicide by throwing himself in stairs, but failed. His health was so bad that he had to be cured in a prison hospital. His lawyer tells that when he saw Farzand in their first meeting, his body was shaken, his hands were seriously burnt by boiled water. Beside, he suffers of kidney infection, and tracks of blood in his urine. ?

Between 2006 and 2007, he was several times transfered in Kermanshah or Sine to be interrogated and severely tortured. In Kermanshah, his cell, where he was detained in February and March 2007 measured 1m x 1m x 0.6m. He was also sexually abused in Evin, a common practice to psychologically break prisoner's mind.

His mother and his brother were allowed to see him only seven months after his arrest. When they meet him, Iranian agents stayed all the tim with them and forbid they speak in Kurdish. Farzad Kamangar, at this time, did not know what were the charges against him.

Farzad made several hunger strikes, with other prisoners, to protest against their conditions of detention. The last month, he was in the prison of Gohardacht,www.ekurd.net when prisoners revolted. After a raid of safety services, he has been taken and led in a isolated place, with Farhad Vakili and Ali Heydaran.

On February 25th, the 130 Branch of the Revolutionary Court condemned Farzad Kamangar to the capital punishment, for “endangering national security”. He was charged also to belong to PJAK, though he pled non-guilty.

Human Rights Watch denounces the trial, the sentence and the tortures.

Teacher on Death Row Farzad Kamangar Writes New Letter: “Be Strong Comrades”

Farzad Kamangar, a school teacher on death row, has written a letter to other imprisoned teachers. The following letter was published by Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA).

« Be Strong Comrades »

Once upon a time, there was a mother fish who laid 10,000 eggs. Only one little black fish survived. He lives in a stream with his mother.

One day the little fish said to his mother, “I want to go away from here.” The mother asked, “Where to?” The little fish replied, “I want to go see where the stream ends.”

[Translator’s note: Little Black Fish is the title of a short story fiction piece for children. The story was written in 1967 by the dissident teacher Samad Behrangi. The book was banned under the Shah’s regime. It tells the story and adventures of a little fish who defies the rules of his community to embark on a journey to discover the sea. On the way, he courageously fights enemies. The tale is considered to be a classic in Iranian resistance literature]

Hello cell mates. Hello fellow mates of pain!

I know you well: you are the teacher, the neighbour to the stars of *Khavaran, the classmates of dozens whose essays were attached to their legal cases [as evidence], the teacher of students whose [only] crime was their humane thoughts. I know you well: you are colleagues of Samad and Ali Khan. You remember me too, right?

[Translator's note: Khavaran is the cemetery in eastern Tehran where many political dissidents were executed during the 1980's and buried in mass unmarked graves]

It is me, the one chained in Evin prison.

It is me, the quiet student who sits behind the broken school benches and longs to see the sea while in a remote village in Kurdistan. It is me, who like you, told the tales of Samad to his students; but in the heart of the Shahoo Mountains [located in Kurdistan].

It is me who loves to take on the role of the little black fish.

It is me, your comrade on death row.

Now, the valleys and mountains are behind him and the river passes though a plain field. From the left and the right side, other rivers have joined in and the river now is filled with more water. The little fish enjoyed the abundance of water…the little fish wanted to go to the bottom of the river. He was able to swim as much as he wanted and not bump into anything.

Suddenly, he spotted a large group of fish. There were 10,000 of them, one of whom told the little black fish, “Welcome to the sea, comrade!”

My jailed colleagues! 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[a river in northwestern Iran, Azerbaijan], Karoon [a river in southwestern Iran, Khuzestan], Sirvan [a river in Kurdistan] or Sarbaz Rood [a river in the Sistan and Baluchestan region]? 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.

[*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]

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.

[Translator's note: Selection process or Gozinesh is a process through which teachers and other government-paid employees are vetted based on their ideological, political, and religious views]

The Little Fish calmly swam in the sea and thought: Facing death is not hard for me, nor is it regrettable.
Suddenly the heron swooped down and grabbed the little fish.

Grandma Fish finished her story and told her 12,000 children and grandchildren that it was time for bed. 11,999 little fish said good night and went to bed. The grandmother went to sleep as well. One little red fish was not able to sleep. That fish was deep in thought.

A teacher on death row, Evin prison

Farzad Kamangar

April 2010

Farzad Kamangar’s explanation on the title of his letter:

Eight years ago, the grandmother of one of my students, Yassin, in the village of Marab, played the tape of the story of the teacher Mamoosta Ghootabkhaneh. She told me then, “I know that your fate, like the teacher who is the writer and recorder of this poem, is execution; but be strong comrade. The grandmother said those words as she puffed on her cigarette and stared at the mountains.


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