Mahboubeh Gholamnejad: Melody of Resistance
My name is Mahboubeh Gholamnejad and I was born in 1978 in Tehran.
I was in my second year of Industrial Management at Damavand University. Today, my younger brother, Saeed, and I are members of the Iranian Resistance.
I have known the PMOI/MEK since childhood. My father was a political prisoner while the Shah reigned over Iran and he was also jailed during Khomeini’s era for about three years – from 1985 to 1988. Hence, “resistance” was a familiar name in our family.
The life story of Mahboubeh Gholamnejad is similar to the stories of many children of Iran:
I remember when I was little, the arrest and imprisonment of my father was concealed from me. As I was very fond of him, after my persistent questioning of his whereabouts, the only answer I was given was that “he comes home at night while I am asleep and leaves early in the morning before I wake up.” Meanwhile, my father was behind bars all those years, far away from me and us.
As I began elementary school, I became increasingly interested in knowing about my father’s situation, and sought to answer my questions of why he was arrested? What had he done? What was his crime and for what purpose? Why is the name of Mojahedin (PMOI/MEK), whom he is a supporter of, prohibited and why no one dares to enunciate their name out on the streets and in the public sphere?
My father was released in 1988 which coincided with the execution of his brother, Mostafa Gholamnejad, during the massacre of political prisoners. My uncle had been imprisoned in Arak and was only 29 years old at the time of his execution.
These were significant events which precededed our future choices and forever changed our lives.
Under the repressive atmosphere in Iran, Mahboubeh Gholamnejad used to ask questions from her father to complete her social and political knowledge:
My father, especially in the family atmosphere, played a very prominent role in rearing us with a sense of responsibility towards the society we lived in and made sure we wouldn’t be indifferent towards it.
He used to reiterate, “A good teenager is one who does not think unilaterally and is able to act and react on the historical, social, and cultural issues of one’s society.” He never disclosed the path he had taken nor did he ever insist that we had to take the same route. He only encouraged the importance of resistance against oppression.
As I grew older, we began hiking every weekend with some family friends. This is a popular activity in Iran and families gather to go hiking on the weekends.
On our way back from the hike, I questioned my father about Mojahedin (PMOI/MEK) and other political groups and their movements, what each of their mottos were and what they did, so that I could have a better and more complete understanding.
He used to explain everything to me but always left me the choice to make my own conclusions and decisions.
I entered university in 1999. For most of us that’s the age when we become preoccupied with thoughts about future and ponder how to best choose a path to a fulfilling life.
It was a while after I had begun my university studies when I became aware that some of my friends had joined the Resistance. The news flared a spark of hope within me as if it cast light on the darkness of our society’s injustices and discriminations, especially towards women.
While it was painful to experience their absence, the path they had taken was reassuring. I used to think about them and imagine myself in their shoes until the day I made a serious decision to join them.
I did not share my plan with anyone, not even my family. I wrote a letter addressed to my parents and left it in my room on my table. I left Tehran on May 19, 2001 for Ashraf. And on May 22 I was in Ashraf, in the world of my wishes…
Mahboubeh Gholamnejad spoke about her initial feelings when she arrived at Ashraf, where Iran’s freedom fighters were concentrated:
What I found most striking in Ashraf was the unity of women for a single goal. Their intention was to liberate their country and establish peace, justice, and equality.
It was for this reason that as a newcomer I was enchanted with the fact that every individual had joined as part of a greater whole with a sole purpose and a single cause. The high morale, vitality, and integrity of these women was welcoming. They talked and treated me as if it had been years since we’ve known each other. They looked at me not as a stranger but with a look of familiarity, closeness, and warmth. It was precisely the spirit and approach that I most needed after having left the oppressive and destitute governance of the mullahs.
This community gave me guidance and encouragement in realizing my talents, especially in the field of music which I have always been interested in.
Ever since childhood I was singing and during my elementary school, I became interested in reading and playing musical instruments such as piano and Santour (traditional Iranian string instrument). But it was among this great community where I learned to read and play music and sing meaningful songs with real content. I will never forget the day when I sang on stage for all the freedom fighters of Ashraf.
The pleasure of standing on the stage and singing for Resistance was magnificent and fills me with pride each time I think of it. Perhaps it is difficult to describe it in words; the smiles and tears of joy might be the language, but I experienced such a wonderful feeling and I witnessed it with my own eyes.
When you sing in such a gathering, the tunes take on strangely different harmonies and transform each listener. Perhaps because their melody is one of freedom…