“Searching desperately for her son….a woman pleads with a guard...‘You can help me find him,’ she begs.” The words could be pulled from my own script. A mother anxiously seeking her missing loved one? Sounds familiar. My words were written about a woman thirty years ago. These words were written last week.
The article appears in The Economist and refers to an online graphic novel called Zahara’s Paradise about the aftermath of the 2009 election in Iran. In the story, a woman she searches for her son, Mehdi, one of many protestors to disappear off the streets. In post-election Iran, the writ of habeas corpus does not exist.
What so moved me about this article is that it is eerily familiar. In Tehran, they call themselves the Mothers in Mourning. Like the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, they too meet weekly to call for an end to the violence and for the return of their children. How can it be that thirty years later we are still having the same conversation?
I recently had the opportunity to perform Letters to Clio – Part II, Margarita at the University of Mumbai. The audience was comprised of a group of international women – women from India, Pakistan, Ireland, Sweden, Australia, Afghanistan, and Canada. Each found the story of Las Madres to be relatable to a current event in her own country.
The Spanish-American philosopher George Santayana once said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” It took the Mothers of Argentina seven years to end the brutal dictatorship that cost their households thousands upon thousands of young lives. My hope is that through sharing their stories I can bring awareness to the countless other women who are looking for their Rosa’s and their Mehdi’s. Hopefully it won’t take waiting for another election or military coup to start the conversation.