March 18

I wrote this on March 21 of last year:

Omidreza was you. He was me. He was each one of us who dares speak our minds. He simply was born in the wrong country, at the wrong time, and chose the wrong day to write about something he believed in.

The world has lost one genuine soul, one true believer. We must stand together to prevent this from ever happening again.

One year ago today, the world lost a blogger. He wasn’t famous, nor was his writing controversial. He was simply a blogger, a believer in freedom, in poetry, in art, and in women’s rights. I know this, because for several months prior to his jailing and subsequent death, we exchanged e-mails. It started with an introduction; I had written a blog post about his arrest, and he e-mailed me a brief thank you. He also told me how sad he was, how desperate he felt. He knew he would be going to prison, and he was fairly certain he wouldn’t survive it.

He didn’t.

His death is still unexplained, ruled as a suicide (a likely explanation, but not necessarily the truth). His family still wonders what went wrong. We all do.

The March 18 movement honors Omidreza Mirsayafi, an ordinary blogger whose needless death haunts the blogging community. Let the first blogger who dies in prison be the last. If only there had been none.

As bloggers, we need to raise our voices, no matter how little we think it helps. We need to stand up in solidarity with bloggers who dare to raise their voices. In Iran, in Syria, in Burma, in Viet Nam, in so many places, bloggers languish in prison. Whatever we think the solution, I can promise you this: remaining silent is not it.

Join the The March 18 movement.

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