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Those words I said
Nabil Janabi
Extraced from Conscience be my Guide: An anthology of prison writings published in 2005
November 16, 2006

Nabil Janabi, an Iraqi poet (not a Kurd), was arrested in 1976 for reading a poem to an assembly of Kurds. He was tortured under interrogation, and sentenced to five years' imprisonment. Released in 1981, he refused to support the government in its war against Iran and was forced into exile. He now lives in London.
This is the poem he read.

I discovered that the word is a woman who can
Move mountains from their places,
Water from the seas,
Government from their seats
And repeat the writing of history round the world.

Some rulers find the word their enemy.
Some cut her hair,
Cut off her tongue
Force her to put on
Her veil to cover the truth.
Some of them want the word as
Slave and prostitute.
Want her to love them, not to share
Their rule but live with them
As slave and prostitute.
And if she does, they will be
Generous to her with gold, silver
And jewels.

Some rulers jail the word
In prisons for women.
They chain her feet, they shut her mouth,
Give her no cigarettes to smoke,
No paper to read,
No book, not even a piece of paper
To write her will on
And no pencil to write with.
But despite all the rulers, despite their power,
All the radar and missiles that cover the
Poem's sky,
The word will continue to fly
All over the world.
No power can ban it or stop it
From landing at any airport
For the word is a bird
That needs no entry visa
For freedom
For democracy.

*Conscience be my Guide: An anthology of prison writings edited by Geoffrey Bould available from Weaver Press:

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