Colored Pencils

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shiraz_prisonersEditor’s Note:  The following is a translation of a short essay that recently appeared in Persian on the occasion of the third anniversary of the arrest of 54 Baha’i youth in Shiraz.  The original Persian text is attached as well.

Short and long colored pencils, dusty crafts, a large quantity of wall posters on various educational subjects — are all thrown in many boxes and are collecting dust.

These are things used for some time by 54 Baha’i youth of Shiraz and several of their Muslim friends to teach children in several underprivileged districts around Shiraz.

Their work proceeded until May 19, 2006, when a group of armed men confiscated their colored pencils, posters, paintings, and crafts, and then arrested all the teachers and took them away.

Interrogation of the Baha’i youth went on for many days.  From that day on, there were no classes for the children in the underprivileged areas, so that they could learn the importance of respecting parents, personal hygiene, proper discipline and organization in conducting personal affairs, showing compassion, regard and respect for others, affability towards one another, friendly ways to play, cooperation and collaboration, daily prayer to Almighty God for aid and assistance, and such things.

There were no more classes in which the children could be happy being together and experience the joy of learning and helping one another.  Perhaps these children learned those things during the short period when they had these classes – and perhaps not.  But the thing which certainly remains forever inscribed in their hearts is the sacrifice of those who shouldered great hardships and undertook immense tois, who were not afraid of dangerous consequences in order to come forth and hold these classes and lovingly help those whom they did not know.

Perhaps you might ask:  Why do we recall these events of 3 years ago?

In response, I would remind you that three of these Baha’i youth – these Baha’i teachers of children’s classes – have been incarcerated for the last 19 months in the most inhospitable prisons and under harsh circumstances.

I wish that colored pencils and crafts had tongues to testify that indeed these Baha’i youth have been imprisoned unjustly, and that they have not committed any crime – nay, indeed, they arose through their human feelings to help children who needed help.

But no!  If these colored pencils and crafts also had tongues they too would be arrested on the charge of being instruments of espionage and means for disrupting national security, and would be thrown in prison or burned.

Download: Original Persian

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