Ebadi’s Daughter: “Dear Agent, What Are You Searching For?”
Following the defamation of Shirin Ebadi on Iranian State TV, by coercing her husband to make disparaging remarks about her, Ebadi’s daughter, Nargess Tavassolian, published this sarcastic letter today, addressed to the intelligence agents who have been a constant presence in her family life. In her letter, she writes her father informed the family months ago about being pressured to make these forced statements. She also notes that this highly edited TV program demonstrates the strength and impact of her mother’s advocacy. The text of the letter, translated by the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, follows:
Dear Intelligence Agent:
Hello. I am Narges, daughter of Shirin and Javad. I know you are quite familiar with me. I have always felt your tangible presence in my phone conversations, and other domains of my life.
Dear Agent, What are you looking for in our family?
I saw your newly produced “confessions” video. Well done! You have managed to complete yet another “project,” bravo! Say, you didn’t tell me you had changed the style of your films. Your confessor this time was not a political activist, but a simple engineer who never claimed to resist prison and torture. Thus, your task must have been much easier this time. Well, thank God you didn’t have to exert yourself too much and get exhausted. I would like to thank you. Thank you.
After seeing your film, once again, I was proud of my mother, because after all the explorations you did in our lives, from searching the office and the house from top to bottom, to eavesdropping on our telephone conversations (say, do you remember how many times while I was talking to my friends I apologized to you for boring you with our chatter?), and after all that search and surveillance, you couldn’t find anything. So you had to arrest and abuse my father in order to build a new confessions scenario.
Why don’t you use your imagination a bit more? You see, my dear Agent, defending religious minorities is not a crime. Doesn’t Islam itself emphasize observation of human and citizenship rights? Hasn’t Imam Ali been quoted to say: “Treat people well, as they are either your brothers in religion or your brothers in creation?”
Thanks again for reminding me that my mother did not spend the Nobel funds all by herself, but that she spent it on helping political prisoners and prisoners of conscience. Didn’t she announce soon after she heard she had won that “this prize doesn’t only belong to me. It belongs to all human rights activists?” But I have a recommendation for you, dear agent–confession projects have become so old and worn out. It is a pity to waste your talents in screenwriting and videotaping like this. I assure you that if you had used all this talent and opportunities in cinema, you would have won a few national awards by now.
In the end, I should like to remember my dear father, Mr. Javad Tavassolian. Dear Father, you know well that many times when you told us the story of your arrest and confessions, Negar and I told you that we love you no matter what. You always said “I’m not an activist and I don’t know how long I can last if I am imprisoned and forced to offer fake confessions.” You did well. Seeing you harmed is the worst thing that could happen in Negar’s and my life.
Even if you confess to more things, you shouldn’t worry, because everyone knows about our dear Intelligence Agent.