email today from Justice Not Vengeance (though you may find that their website is blocked in some way).
all over Isfahan are gardens of paradise - the streets are like green corridors of sycamore and mulberry and cypresses and the scent of thousands of roses drift through the warm air.
You can tell that this is an ancient civilization because they have had three thousand odd years to make cities work. The pavements and roads are polished and smooth, clean drinking water is available from public fountains and the city is designed for pleasure. In the day people wander along the park lined river eating ice cream, lovers sit in couples among the honeysuckle arbors, families take swan boats out on the river.
Men and women sit on the steps of the bridge catching the breeze as the cool water rushes through arches just below their feet and swallows dart over their heads. For four hundred years since the bridge was built people have come here to sing to the acoustics of the stonework.
As we walk along the bridge we can hear a song coming through the arches. A young man holding a plastic bag of books, perhaps returning from college, is alone in the shade singing close to the wall to use its resonance.
Passersby stop very quietly to hear him finish his private song - "When my heart is broken I will take my grief from my enemy to my friend, but when my friend is gone to whom will I take my broken heart?" A beautiful voice mixing with the cool shade and the golden syrup sun.
On the far side of the bridge people gather to hear a recital from the Epic of the Kings by the great Persian poet Ferdowsi. The balladiers tell a story of a king who has sold his soul to the Devil in exchange for being king of the world. Two snakes enter the king's ears to eat his brain and the only way he can stop them is to feed the snakes with the brains of young people.
A young blacksmith resists and calls on the young people to act together - so they rise up and dethrone the king.
The Persians have had millenia of practice at dethroning unjust rulers and poetry has been a powerful tool in those revolutions.
At night there is a young woman rollerblading round a statue of Ferdowsi. She is wearing pink.
In the square of mosques under a golden moon families picnic in the warm air. The square is illuminated by low lights among the bushes. Young men are playing cards. The intimate velvet darkness wraps a thousand conversations among the roses.
In the streets and parks and shops people stop us and talk to us about peace and negotiation. (c) Emily Johns