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A Nation’s Courage: Maryam Akbari-Monfared’s Letter from Iran’s Prison 


In her message from the notorious Evin prison to the Iranian people, Maryam Akbari-Monfared vowed to continue standing “shoulder to shoulder” with the families of protesters slain during the recent uprising.  

Originally published in the Independent, Maryam Akbari’s letter foretells over a decade of her sufferance in the regime’s prisons but also shows her strong spirit despite the regime’s efforts to break her.  Mrs. Akbari-Monfared, a mother of three, was arrested in 2009 for supporting the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK).  

“This is not a 4,000-page story, but the pure reality of life under the domination of fascists who imposed it on us while we refused to give in. On this side of the bars, in the dark desert of torture and oppression, as far as one can see – even where one cannot see – there is just vileness and brutality,” the letter reads.  

“As of December 29, 2022, thirteen years have passed since I was separated from my 4-year-old Sarah and my two 12-year-old daughters on that winter midnight,” she wrote, adding, “Without giving me a chance to say goodbye to my loved ones, they took me to Evin prison to give some explanations and made the ridiculous promise that ‘you will return to your children in the morning.’” 

Yet, Maryam Akbari didn’t write to share her plight with people; her letter is in solidarity with her risen compatriots, who are making a revolution and rewriting history, therefore giving hope to Maryam and other political prisoners.  

“With the news of every protest and every uprising, and with the sparks of this rebellious flame, the hearts of women whose only hope of freedom is to break these iron gates are filled with hope.”  

She also advised brave young Iranians on the street to never trust the regime’s interrogators if arrested.  

“To my daughters and sons, who are bravely on the streets … I say: if you are arrested, do not trust the interrogators even an iota.”  

Maryam Akbari-Monfared lost three siblings in the 1980s. Her sister was hanged during the 1988 massacre of over 30,000 prisoners, mostly MEK members, and supporters. Maryam has been a vocal supporter and advocate of the justice-seeking movement for the 1988 massacre’s victims. Therefore, she shared the grief of the slain protesters’ families and urged them to seek justice. “To the grieving families … I say that I share in their grief too. I hold their hands from here and stand shoulder to shoulder with them, stronger than before, for justice.”  

Maryam Akbari-Monfared’s letter from the regime’s dungeons, where interrogators abide by no law and are free to do any atrocities against defenseless prisoners, indicates an unwavering determination of a nation to bring down the ruling theocracy at any cost. The world should indeed support these brave souls who seek justice, freedom, and democracy. The letter also reveals the harsh conditions in the regime’s prisons, therefore amplifying the need for the international community to send a fact-finding mission to the Iranian prisons and prevent the regime from further committing crimes against humanity.