Detainees at Greater Tehran Penitentiary and Evin Prison have entered their 40th day of protests in the wake of the death of jailed writer Baktash Abtin. In an audio file sent to IranWire, inmate Hamid Haj Jafar Kashani read a statement dedicated to Abtin on behalf of the group, in which they reflect: “Maybe the next [to die in prison] will be one of us.”
The signatories were Mohammad Abolhassani, Sina Beheshti, Hamid Haj Jafar Kashani, Mohammad Torkman, Hossein Ghashghaei and Milad Arsanjani. They have already faced beatings and intimidation by guards, as well as attempts to forcibly split them up on spurious medical grounds.
“Matchsticks instead of pens,” the statement reads. “Blood on the floor instead of ink. Bandages instead of paper. I write to you from the dungeon.
"I woke up yesterday; a white ceiling one meter from the bed reminded me of my being in the same place. In a dream, I saw a crow. Freedom and security are two human desires, the sum of which, if not impossible, is very hard to bear. Accused because of thinking, and guilty for not fearing. This is why we have to watch the sky, or the barbed wire, from the window of the cell: a place from which all our questions have been exhumed.
“What is the secret behind all this death? Sattar Beheshti, Vahid Sayadi, Nasir Alireza, Shirmohammad Ali, Sasan Niknafs, Behnam Mahjoubi, Baktash Abtin. Maybe the next will be one of us. Your death, and the death of all the others, reminds us of the mass graves of the 1980s. Your legend is that of a hero who fights, is tortured, and still remains unknown: the ever-repeated story of a man who did not surrender to fear and bore the message of freedom. But now it is time to move; you toward death, and we toward life.
“For dear Baktash Abtin, winter 1400.”
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