Farzad Kamangar, Kurdish Political Prisoner on Death Row, Writes to His Mother from Evin Prison


Below is a letter from Farzad Kamangar, A Kurdish teacher who was sentenced to death for alleged ties to the PKK. In his trial, which lasted seven minutes, neither Kamangar or his lawyer were allowed to speak.

Below is a letter Kamangar sent to his mother recently from Evin prison, where he is held in the political prisoner’s ward 209.

It’s a Strange Time, My Flower

Do not search for me mother
Do not utter my name in front of this prison
Do not search for me here
A star has fallen on your mane
Do not make it tired and tearful

At sunset my heart aches. A kind of restlessness comes to find me. I do not know why, but it has been many years that I have grown accustomed to such heart aches. Now even Shamloo poetry, cigarettes and a cup of tea do not sweeten my bitter palette. They only make these heart aches more absorbing and appealing to me. In the evenings I self-reflect. I think about myself and the human beings around me, human beings whose vestige has become numerical.

I remember that I am prisoner number 135490648. Numbers have become symbols and codes, 350, 209, 240, 2A. In our homeland, days too become symbols. Days whose numbers have slowly exceeded the pages of the calendar, February 22, July 9, December 7, July 13, March 20, June 20, January 22 and …I remember that human beings in the dark nights of our homeland very quickly become stars and we have become owners of picture frames as numerous as the sky’s stars.

I tell myself, what a strange time it has become. Sometimes I am forced to become happy about news that really do not warrant happiness. Sometimes, I cry of happiness after hearing a piece of news and sometimes, upon hearing certain news, I flash a bitter smile, shake my head and regret that moment when I shed a happy tear. Sometimes I get stuck, between laughing and crying, which one is appropriate. I shed tears of happiness upon hearing the news of the reversal of Hamed’s execution order, which has been changed to 10 years imprisonment, but after remembering his sickly body and young age, I slip into thinking that how long does a human being live any way to spend 10 years of it in prison, and suddenly sadness swallows me.

I breathe a sigh of relief after hearing the news of the imprisonment of my cellmates Nader and Arash, who have each been sentenced to 10 years in prison, that fortunately they were not also sentenced to execution, but when I think about Nader’s little Mehdi and Arash’s mother, tears fill my eyes and again I don’t know whether to be sad or happy.

The times have become strange. I am relieved that at Ebrahim’s memorial in Sanandaj only10 people were arrested and no one was killed, but I choke up knowing that Ebrahim’s mother has not yet put away her son’s books and I think about those 10 people who only had one question, what happened to Ebrahim?

My eyes quickly scan the newspaper columns and once I see that they have not charged Majid Tavakoli as a Mohareb (enemy of god) I happily tell myself “awesome, Majid, I hope I see you again” and after I think about his abandoned studies, I shake my head and wonder, should I laugh or cry?

I think, what a strange time it has become.

Our poverty stricken people have to receive their severed existence as a gift from the benevolent exchange of justice with gratitude and accolade… for what?

I think to myself what a time it has become that my right to live and my life should collect dust in the courts in this order and that pardon and my mother should answer the phone with fear, switch on her television with nervousness and await the day when the death of her child becomes a shadow of fear over the lives of others.

In the evenings, I think to myself that…

I slowly look around lest a person or a camera can read my thoughts and … reveal them to someone who should not know.

Indeed, what a strange time it has become darling.

Farzad Kamangar

Evin Prison – January 19, 2010

1. The letter’s title is the Kurdish translation of a poem by Ahmad Shamloo.

2. The letter’s opening poem is a work by Ahmad Kaya.