Eulogy for Omid MisayafiMarch 19th, 2009 — Chris Van Buren
I am having trouble expressing how sad and angry I feel over the death of Iranian blogger Omid Rez Misayafi. Bruce’s post this morning announcing it, via Global Voices, left me shaken and upset. I have spent the last hour frantically pouring over the accounts of a writer whom I’ve never met or read (he wrote in Farsi, mostly about traditional Iranian music), but with whom I feel the deepest and most immediate brotherhood. As the Committee to Protect Bloggers put it: “They’ve Killed One of Us.”
I am trying to wrap my mind around how something this cruel and unnecessary could happen. Misayafi, whose chief offense seems to have been a few quickly penned satires, was sentenced in December for insulting religious clerics and opposing the Islamic Republic. That this could merit *two and a half years* in an Iranian gulag, the infamous Evin Prison (listen to this NPR report)… the mind reels in a complex reaction of weary disgust.
The true cause of Misayafi’s death is not yet known. According to official sources, his death was a suicide. Depressed and isolated in prison, the writer simply OD’d on sedatives. Misayafi’s sister is rightly suspicious of this story, especially after the Zahra Kazemi incident. Iranian officials first reported that the detained Canadian-Iranian journalist had died of a stroke while in custody. As it turns out, she was brutally raped, tortured and beaten to death.
Even if Misayafi died by his own hand, he did so under awful conditions and unfair imprisonment. I encourage you to read the statement by Reporters Without Borders, which has demanded a full investigation and detailed autopsy.
Finally, I express my condolences to the Misayafi family. Though you are thousands of miles away, speak another language and come from a different culture, your grief is rawly felt by anyone who believes in free expression. Omid Misayafi, rest in peace.