04/05/2012 05:44 EDT | Updated 06/05/2012 05:12 EDT

Letter From a Prisoner in Iran

Today is Bahareh Hedayat's 31st birthday and the fourth wedding anniversary with her activist husband Amin Ahmadian. Unfortunately, the two are separated because Iranian regime agents arrested Hedayat in December 2009, three days following a mass two-day opposition protest in the country. She has been locked up in Evin prison ever since.

Hedayat is an award-winning women's rights and student activist. She is sentenced to ten years in prison. Her only crime is being too good, too honest, too brave. The Iranian regime is punishing her for refusing to live a life of lies, compromise her individuality, or bow down to oppression.

Hedayat was arrested mainly for not remaining silent to the injustices haunting Iranian students. For instance, the brave activist can be seen in this 2009 video delivering a message on behalf of Iranian students to the European Union. She can also be seen in this 2009 video delivering a message on the occasion of Iranian Student Day (December 7th) for an event at Delft University in Holland. She chose not to attend the event in person because she feared arrest upon her return to Iran. Sadly, she was arrested anyway shortly after the video was released to the public.

The day before Valentine's Day of this year Bahareh wrote a note from prison on a piece of napkin that was addressed to Ahmadian. I translated excerpts from the letter: "I stressed out a lot today and cried. Who can I tell this to if not you? You're so far away that I am left regretting our conversations -- regretting that I can't cry in your arms to calm down. I know, crying doesn't heal any pain. Perhaps missing you has decreased my endurance. Tomorrow is Valentine's Day... You are what I wanted. I had wished for [you]. Meeting you, loving you, and marrying you were the greatest miracles of my life."

Today Ahmadian posted a new letter on his Facebook that Bahareh just wrote to him from prison for the occasion of their wedding anniversary. As soon as I saw the letter I contacted Arash Azizi, a translator for Persian2English, and asked if he would have the time to translate it. Even though Arash had two university exams to study for he gladly accepted and sent me the finished text right away. Bahareh was also a university student...

The full translation of Bahareh's newest letter can be read on the Persian2English website. Here is an excerpt:

Amin, I don't know what people outside think of prison. Perhaps they think we only eat dried bread and cry all the time from depression. When a new one arrives, she usually says: 'You are not doing that bad here! It's good in here, and I didn't think it would be!' I tell them to wait a little more and they will discover that the hardship here is not because of comfort, clothing, and food. We use any excuse to throw a party or celebration. We do it more in here than outside the prison. But, there are many things we lack here as well -- more than is known.

Bahareh is a great inspiration to my activism and to me as a person. I have grown tremendously in these past three years by getting to know her and the other beautiful souls behind bars in Iran. These strong people have made me reevaluate my perception of humanity. I love them all dearly, and I hope you will learn to love them as well through reading my blog pieces.