I’m still reeling from the effects of an unforgettable party last Saturday night. A party spiked with the blazing heart and soul of fifty Iranian activists and ex-political prisoners living in exile all over the world.

They came to Montreal for a conference about the 1980’s massacre of Iranian political prisoners: to re-connect, to strategize, to honor the dead and  to celebrate life. After surviving years of punishing brutality via the Islamic Revolution, they continue the fight for human rights and peace. Talk about a party theme!

Aside from my own wedding (and its renowned Arab/Jewish hora), I have never witnessed such an explosion of joy as I did that night. My dear friends Shirin and Mehrdad opened their home to their 1980’s cell-mates and let the party rip. A live-wire ran through their veins, which, amazingly, included mine. A musical of towering emotional intensity was improvised on the fir tree-lined balcony, with outbursts of ecstatic dancing that vibrated the feet, gyrated the hips, and threw heads back, lashing hair under the silvery moon.

Through the tears, my friends, there was laughter! Music! Three women singing, then six, then two men, then one woman, then, all together. Hands clapping, feet stomping the beat. Aching songs of sadness and joy. Soft voices whispered in my ear, helping to translate the Farsi of Iran. Images of its mountains, sunsets, and the spirit of its people. The woman who lost her husband to the firing squad, and then her baby as she was tortured in jail. Female voices chanting the chorus. I clapped my hands raw. When Shirin opened her golden throat, I felt her heart fill the night sky with indomitable love.

Later, sitting cross-legged on the living room floor, the woman I was talking to pointed to another- who was laughing, held in a group hug on the couch. She told me, we shared a cell for a few years. They beat her terribly every day. They put her in solitary confinement for years. For the first time, tonight, she said, I saw her dance.

 

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GOOD NEWS FLASH: As we share our stories and break down the walls that divide us, we speak out against tyranny with our humanity and love. There is hope!

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