“Be brave” like Nasrin

Mar 16, 2021

Dutch Resistance Museum, Photo: Mike Bink

The Dutch resistance museum was established in 1984. Since its inception, the museum has hosted events and exhibitions related to resistance, peace and human rights annually.

This year at the Dutch resistance museum, the exhibition “Be Brave” focused on three citizens of Amsterdam who played an active role in the only strike resisting the Nazi regimes persecution of the Jews.

This strike was held in February 1941 (during World War II) in the Netherlands against the Nazi regime. The strike began with metalworkers in Amsterdam and spread to Utrecht, Haarlem, Velsen, Zaandam and Hilversum. As a result of the strike, nine people were killed and many more were injured and detained.

As the museum will not be open again to the public until at least March 15,2021 due to restrictions caused by the Coronavirus pandemic, the exhibition “Be Brave” is presently accessible online and began with an opening, virtual speech by Mark Rutte (Prime minister of the Netherlands who has recently resigned).

This exhibition “Be brave” can be accessed virtually anywhere in the world through this address.

Click here to go to the online exhibition

And which on the occasion of the eightieth anniversary of the aforementioned historic February strike in the Netherlands is memorable and interesting. One of the main parts of the exhibition is a spotlight on Nasrin Sotoudeh.

Dutch Resistance Museum, Photo: Mike Bink

In this exhibition the museum states,

People are still standing up to injustice. Be brave for that reason! This is the story of Nasrin Sotoudeh, an Iranian human rights lawyer.

Mansoureh Shojaee, and the author is one of the founders of the Iranian Women’s Movement Museum, who has assisted in preparing and compiling this collection for the resistance museum, says in this regard:

The assembled collection of Nasrins works (e.g dolls) highlighted in this museum, with in fact, each of them bearing a specific tale becomes an epic story when combined together.

This bold vision started when the museum officials suggested that we separate Nasrin’s works from an exhibition collection entitled “From Evin with Love” and provide them to the museum for the different exhibition. The offer came at a time when our exhibition was being relocated by a van transporting museum artifacts from Germany to Norway.

Being cautious due to coronavirus restrictions, Mansoureh told the museum officials that this was not possible as, firstly, the exhibition was on its way to Norway and secondly, it wouldn’t be possible to separate the Nasrin collection from the whole collection. Meanwhile, it was reported to us that since Norway is not a member of the European Union, travel to that country, especially cargo and museum items, requires customs clearance under Coronavirus regulations.

This caused problems which were supposed to be overcome by a car coming from Norway to pick up the goods from Germany, and the author had to be at the Dutch customs office in the border town of Venlo on Wednesday morning in September to present the approved documents to the customs officers.

Dutch Resistance Museum, Photo: Mike Bink

In short, we finally managed it with a complex operation which previously had never occurred to me. At 5 o’clock in the morning, I boarded the train from The Hague to Venlo, and at 7.30 am I was at the customs in the city of Venlo.

There I started checking the museum objects one by one with a list, one copy in my hand and the other in the hand of the customs officer to get permission to cross the border.

There I was assisted by a Norwegian truck driver and was in the midst of checking boxes  when I suddenly recalled that one of the dolls that Nasrin had sent us had not been added to the customs list  and must be in the shipment.

Commencing with that recollection our search became multi-purpose, until we finally retrieved the doll and passed customs.

The doll was called ‘The Environmentalist’ Nasrin had made it in remembrance of environmentalist prisoners and martyrs. The doll has a pot in one hand and a sprinkler in the other, and is a symbol of environmental activists, including prisoners and martyrs! It was like ‘The Talking Doll’, as Samad Behrangi had told us before.

Dutch Resistance Museum, Photo: Mike Bink

So I hugged the pro-nature doll carefully and the two of us returned to The Hague. As soon as I arrived, I told the museum officials to find the doll amongst the boxes. We were all excited to have for the exhibition.

During the next meeting, I suggested that we add a German Judges Award plaque recently awarded to Nasrin and, if possible, Nasrin’s other awards, this was accomplished only with the kind assistance of Reza Khandan, Parastoo Forouhar, ‌ Sabri Najafi, Masoud Mafan and Mr. Lahiji. We had all joined hands and the result of our mutual effort was here: The presence of Nasrin Sotoudeh from Iran in the Amsterdam Museum of Resistance!

Dutch Resistance Museum, Photo: Mike Bink

In an interview with Radio Zamaneh, I, Mansoureh Shojaei spoke about the importance of placing Nasrin Sotoudeh’s name in the Museum of Resistance stating:

Museums and exhibitions are, in fact, a kind of tribute and media, which introduce a person or a work in one of the most prestigious forms of media. When a person reaches a level of social or scientific or artistic value, he or she is naturally approached by world-renowned exhibitions and museums. Now consider that in the midst of diseases, inflation, unemployment, repression and sanctions that have gripped the Iranian people, Iran’s name as a land and Nasrin’s name as a woman from this land in a museum dedicated to the global symbols of resistance, peace and human rights will be recorded.

I, Mansoureh Shojaee believe that Nasrin Sotoudeh had been chosen by officials of the resistance museum to be allocated a special section of the ‘Be Brave’ exhibition, because of  her own resistance and struggle for her individual rights and that of her clients, her popularity amongst many groups of people, intellectuals and civil society activists in Iran and abroad, her steadfastness in defending human rights despite harsh sentences and severe pressure and lastly the independence of her.

Photo: Mike Bink

Click here for more information (Dutch)


Mansoureh Shojaee, Iranian Women’s Movement Museum

Dutch Resistance Museum, Photo: Mike Bink

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