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New Year among with Earthquake, Poverty and Regional Interference Conflicts

December 16, 2017 by  

From the Editorial Desk – Shahrokh Ahkami – Persian Heritage, No. 88, Winter 2017

Once again my warm wishes for a happy and healthy holiday to the people of the world, our readers and the Iranian diaspora. You have so gracefully engaged in upholding Persian values and continue to pass them on to future generations. And you still assimilate to your host countries in celebrating the holidays. I continue to hope that the coming New Year will be filled with health and joy for all especially the devastated people in Iran. These people for the last 40 years have endured not only devastation caused by nature but have also suffered from the tyranny of their leaders. 

In the last week the devastation of the earthquake brought this suffering to light in the Province of Kermanshah and the surrounding villages. Over 40,000 homes and apartments were destroyed. Destroyed not so much by the severity of the earth quake, but because of the poor construction and engineering of the responsible parties. The Mehr Community (Mehr meaning “kindness and giving”) was built, opposite its name, by a group of irresponsible cruel builders. This low income housing project was built for the underprivileged to provide shelter. As a result of this inadequate construction these people have lost everything including their lives. Those who fortunately survived face a future with little. This event was the worse world disaster and devastation in 2017. The inhumane individuals, responsible for the engineering and construction of this community lacked compassion. They did not even provide adequate building procedures to the only hospital in the community, which also was destroyed.

I remember during a visit to San Diego CA, a friend who was interested in purchasing real-estate in the area, sparked a conversation with my brother, a civil engineer. He emphasized the importance of checking the quake track line before purchasing any property. My brother very calmly explained that in California most builders make sure they don’t build on quake track (fault) line, in order to minimize the damage in the event of an earthquake, especially due to the fact that California is so vulnerable to quakes.

Knowing how carefully they build in California reinforced my feelings of the irresponsibility of the builders in Kermanshah, a known vulnerable region to earthquakes… Apparently none of the required building codes were applied in this case; all they looked at was the profit they would make. As a result these building blocks, called apartment buildings, have crumbled and along with them the hope and dreams of an entire community. 

If you look back at the history of the Eifel Tower in Paris, Mr. Eifel the architect, responsible for the construction of this world renowned structure, was charged with improper use of safety codes and was given a jail sentence. The authorities did not even consider the reputation of this genius architect while charging him with jail time. In Iran, unfortunately, illegal behavior is overlooked by the leadership who work hand in hand with the corrupt and thieves who are looking out for their own interests. In this case when they are identified as guilty they will have the ability to flee, with their passports in hand. 

I am not sure if you know this story but it is one I would like to share with you. It is regarding the building of one of the first bridges in Iran, built during Reza Shahs time (father of the latest Shah). The story goes that when he ordered the construction of the Veresk Bridge for the railroad to connect the northern part of Iran with Tehran, he also demanded that the architect responsible for the design and construction to be present on the day of the opening of the bridge. He was ordered to stand with his family under the bridge as the first train passed over. This was to ensure that all the proper codes and construction were applied to its construction, or the builder and family would be the first victims to improper engineering. Interesting enough the bridge still stands and it is a symbol of the rail system in Iran. This is an example showing how a compassionate leader looks out for his people. A true leader makes sure that his leadership encompasses values that will protect the citizens against the corrupt. They will prosecute those found responsible for illegal actions and carry out rightful punishment.

I am sad to have to witness how the wealth and livelihood of my birth country is being embezzled by the leadership, wealth being shipped out to foreign banks. This occurs while innocent children live in cities and attend schools poorly constructed under code. During the summer time they are forced to endure the heat of the sun and in the winter wet and slimy walls of these huts. How can a government allow this to happen to its own and yet, fund buildings of schools in Africa, South America, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon? During the airstrikes on Lebanon by Israel a few years ago, many buildings were destroyed especially in the Hezbollah areas. During an interview with one the families that had endured the attack they gratefully thanked Iran for building them new homes, hospitals, schools and parks. They acknowledged the receipt of cash up to $20,000.00 per family from the Iranian authorities. While the cash amount maybe exaggerated this story was frustrating to my ears. Especially when I hear that three days into the quake people were still without access to food and shelter. One of the villages did not even have access to drinking water. A witness stated that when the food trucks come around, people who are more aggressive over power those that are older and weaker resulting in improper distribution of the rations. Another frustrating and unfortunate issue is the lack of International media coverage of this natural disaster in Iran, a complete disregard to human life. But I was humbled by the pride and values of the people of Iran who joined together to volunteer and collect funds and brought food and supplies to the needy victims of this quake.

It is infuriating and humiliating that a few days into the quake there was a religious holiday. Over a million people were visiting the holy sites by foot in Iraq during the holy days. The publicity of these pilgrimages were all over the media in Iran and even the Mayor of Tehran stated that it was his responsibility to maintain the premises of these sites by Iranians in a foreign country. He took great pride in making these statements. The faith of individuals is personal and should be respected by all, but in retrospect, stated by many during these past weeks, it is important to realize our priorities. When in need we must look inside not outside, when a people of our birth place are in dire need of food and shelter, are crammed under the rubble of buildings and the loss of life is in your face. The lack of funds to provide help to those in need of schools and hospital is unacceptable. It is also unacceptable to the increase of homelessness of families; children wandering the streets and addiction on the rise. 

It is despicable when all of this is happening on Iranian soil, the soil of our birth land, while billions are being spent on funding the development of countries who have long been responsible for the destruction of Iran and its people; using Iran’s oil money to fund all this. What happened to the money that funded Hamas and the Palestinians? What good has it done for us? The Palestinians are on the side of the Saudis who have a thirst for Persian blood, and have always been their enemy. 

The burden of this quake is prominent but inflation has become another added problem for the Iranian people. Food prices have gone up drastically. The only source of food for some is bread, which is subsidized by the government. It has been announced that there will be a 15% increase in the price of traditional Persian breads in the market. This equates to an enormous amount of money for a family of four and will leave them financially unable to afford cheese or meat to their monthly expenses. 

The images of disaster areas, the number of the death toll rising, the wounded, the grieving parents, inflation, news of theft, human rights inflictions, political prisoners, the news of a war breaking out with a country whose young Arab leader aligned himself with a full modern military (supplied by The West ), world powers encouraging the young SaudiArabia Crown Prince leader, emerging as a young Saddam Hussein, to try out their new military war heads on Iran, the news of dividing Iran into different parts, etc… daily OCCUPIES my mind and certainly occupies the minds all who seek peace and harmony. When will we see a new world order allowing Iran and its people their proper place in today’s world?

 

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