Maryam Akbari Monfared: A rainbow of hope

Facebook post by: Atena Farghadani, cartoonist and former political prisoner

When I was transferred from solitary confinement to the women’s ward in Evin, through the efforts of my family I was allowed to take with me painting tools like paint, paint brush and colored pencils.

I used to spend my time drawing the space inside the prison, the beds, etc. Then my drawings would make up a nice gift to my dear cellmates.

My paintings were constantly monitored and inspected by the prison’s security and guards and I wasn’t allowed to send them out. But with great effort, I did manage to send out some of them, such as this one, and get them to the families of prisoners.

In this painting, I illustrated part of hall number 2 of the women’s ward (in Evin) and the bed belonging to Maryam Akbari.

Maybe the first question to strike the mind is how I visualized the prison so colorful?

What I conceived was not the greyscale reality of prison, but the resistance seething in the spirit of my cellmates. One such woman was Maryam Akbari Monfared. Maryam and I had completely different strategies, and we still do. But what makes Maryam indelible in my mind is her image as a woman who has been serving her sentence for eight years without a single day of furlough!

Whenever I got mad, she came to me and whispered, “Don’t let the cameras record your anger and frustration. Smile!”

Whenever it rained or snowed in the small precinct where we were supposed to breath fresh air, she ran around passionately and laughed.

A woman whose resistance was a rainbow of hope for all the prisoners.