Leyla Yunus, prominent human rights advocate, writes from her prison cell to her husband Arif.
“Arif, my dear!
Well, after 36 years of our live spent together, we end up in different cells in different prisons…
My dear, don’t you know, I will survive everything- the terrible physical pains (the cold water is causing an inflammation), the intimidation by the long time female criminal in my cell (by the way, she is from Ganja, Ganja failed us again), and even the visits of those jackals from the prosecutor’s office.
I am surviving the lack of clean clothes and without my medication (I know you too are struggling with this). What kind of animals [jackals] these Usubovs, Lemberanskis are that not only they are keeping us in stuffy camera cells but they are also starving us, keeping us without our medication.
But the hardest part of this all is that we are not together. We have never separated really in our 36 years of marriage!
Because we are not able to talk, I decided I write you this open letter, hoping that at some point it will reach you and be read by you.
You know, we read together Solzhenitsyn, Varlaam Shalamov, Grossman and Aksenov. And we often discussed how the couples arrested together felt. In 1937 there were great many couples taken in.
We just didn’t know that in 21
century we would be subject to repression of the 30s. Yesterday I was reminded of the words of Grossman in his “Life and Fate”. He wrote of the prisoners’ feelings: “terrible sadness is replaced by meaningless opium – optimism…” How true this is for the prisons in authoritarian regimes. This was also the case in 1942 at the concentration camps, when Jews would pass on the information that “Hitler was given an ultimatum- release all the Jews”. And people believed in this. They believed because they would cling to that meaningless opium – optimism.
Together with you, we are realists. “Politics is a dirty business.” We understand it all. But no matter what life brings our way, the worst of it all is that I cannot see you. This is our own 37th year.