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The Martyrs of Shiraz


The promise of dawn arising,

they tread their last steps to

take their last breaths

the cold dampness of the earth

reminding them of finality-

that their lightly slippered feet

will soon be suspended in air.


Above them, nooses swinging

under the electric light of a sports field,

Shiraz- city of gardens and poets-

flickers in the distance as

the ten women cloaked in silence

soon to be choked to silence

ascend a platform to

kiss the noose of destiny

and claim the sentence

of death

for being Baha’is.


They stand serenely

as if at the threshold of the

most splendid garden in Shiraz -

infused with the fragrance

of orange blossoms, jasmine, and roses

enthralled by songs of nightingales

and the wisdom of rapturous mystic poets.


Shiraz, where the portal for a new day

was opened to the seekers of the Promised One,

And the brambles of prejudice and hate

were cleared for the most precious fruits to grow.


Months of imprisonment and torture

Haven’t robbed the Persian Roses of their fragrance,

It couldn’t be extracted

through the blood of lacerations

the hours of relentless torture and interrogations -

They withstood.


Neither jailors nor judges could turn

their profession of belief

into confessions of denial

born of battered bodies and

drawn from thirsting lips.


They would not recant

the Faith etched with indelible ink

in their inmost hearts

to embrace a mockery of justice.


Life of the spirit

is not paused by the trials of the earth

“Death is a ‘messenger of joy”

to the ten who sacrifice

their lifeblood for love.


Mona, seventeen, the youngest

-budding teacher and poet-

charged with ‘misleading children

and being a ‘zionist’

asks to be the last of the nine

as they are executed one by one


Mona always cheering hearts

prays as each friend

braves the last bitter draught

and

when all hang but her

she kisses the noose

and releases her earthly frame.


Four decades later

The seeds of their sacrifice

sow indomitable gardens

of courage and faith

in tender hearts yearning

to live their highest purpose.


Gardens of inspiration

grow through each new generation

who remember and honor them:

Mona Mahmudnizhad, a 17-Year

Mrs. Nusrat Yalda'i, 54 years old,

Mrs. 'Izzat Janami Ishraqi, 50 years old,

Miss Roya Ishraqi, 23 and daughter of 'Izzat,

Mrs. Tahirih Siyavushi, 32 years old,

Miss Zarrin Muqimi, 28 years old,

Miss Shirin Dalvand, 25 years old,

Miss Akhtar Sabit, 19 or early 20's,

Miss Simin Sabiri, early 20's,

Miss Mahshid Nirumand, 28 years old,



Photo of Mona Mahmudnizhad


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