Pariya: A Wish for Iran

Pariya Kohandel is a young woman who has recently departed Iran and joined the Iranian opposition. She is celebrating her first Persian New Year (Norouz) outside of Iran, while her father and his friends are all political prisoners back inside the country.
Pariya is a young woman who has been very familiar with prisons and … after her father was arrested when she was only 8 years old. To this day she has not received a gift from her father on Norouz or her birthday.

Pariya is a young woman who grew up in the mullahs’ notorious prison wards in Iran. Long hallways, encircled by barbed wire and prison guards, and only having 20 minutes each time to see her father from behind a thick glass.
Pariya is a young woman whose friends were the children of other political prisoners whom she saw when going to visit her father in prison. She has received a letter on Norouz from her father (Saleh Kohandel), which she responded to with tears in her eyes and a beautiful smile on her face:

“Dear Dad…
It is very hard to write to you. I have written letters for you many times, only to change it all over again… because I just cannot express all my thoughts in one letter for you. However, after seeing footages of you and your friends celebrating the Fire Festivities – marked each year by Iranians on the last Tuesday night of the Persian calendar – and also your pictures on Norouz, I became so excited and was so proud of you that the words and sentences on paper. You have made me become used to write to you every week… Each Wednesday I look at my hand, and I remember the stamp that was my permission to hear your voice… my thoughts are still in the hallways of Gohardasht Prison (in the city of Karaj, west of Tehran)… I still remember the small piece of paper written, “Saleh Kohandel, ward 4, hall 12…” the same piece of paper that sought to keep reminding me that you are not at my side… and how much I miss those victories we had with each other… When they wanted to defeat us, hurt our feelings, we kept on laughing to prove if there is anyone that is defeated, it is them… You even taught me how to laugh… and I experienced my victory with you… and even my first “battle” along your side… when I had to go the limits to be able hear your words…
Dad, I truly miss your wonderful words… I can still hear your voice, saying even in prison you are freer than me… when you used to tell me to read… read all your writings. And how much I miss the feelings I had after our visits… emotions felt only between you and me… and no one else can feel them, even if they tried… the best feelings in the world… and this is the reason that only you can define every single expression in this letter, and feel it because I am with you in all my tears, all my expressions and every single battle that I enter…
By the way, I saw you the other day… you were very brave and powerful… you marked the Fire Festivities even better than last year, and you painted Norouz this year… I was already proud of every single one of you, and after seeing these images I became even more proud and honored… every second of those moments was very inspiring for me and my friends…
It was very hard separating from you… A voice inside me was screaming every second of the day… that I will never see you again… but today, I understand that I see you every second of the day, here, in each and every member of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MeK)… When I realized I had to be away from you, at a distance, so many kilometers away, but… in a second I will be with you again… and even closer than that ever before, and cabins, walls and phones in prison cannot censor us and block us, because we are linked to each other, much more powerful than the gallows, any torture and prisons…
To those henchmen who thought that through torture, execution and prisons they could actually destroy our love for freedom… the same people who must pay the price for all the tears shed by our people, and we all know that none of this pains endured by mothers and children in Iran cannot go forgotten… to anyone who has not come believe to this day, tell them to take a look at the tunnels of Gohardasht Prison… for just a second, take a look at the enchained heroes of this land. This will change the beliefs of all people…
Dear Dad… tell all your friends that my struggle is inspired by your perseverance… I am so proud of each and every one of you, even when I see you for just one second… I am certain that the history of Iran will one day commemorate all this resistance and perseverance.
I love you,
Pariya… this time, closer than ever before, shoulder to shoulder with you to establish freedom
Happy New Year to all of you

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