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Norooz and Uprising of Iranian People, the Demands: Rights of Better Life and Freedom

March 17, 2018 by  

Shahrokh Ahkami – Persian Heritage, No. 89, Spring 2018

With the coming Persian New Year, Norooz, and the arrival of Spring with its rebirth of beautiful nature and new beginnings, we celebrate the 23rd year of Persian Heritage’s publication. Proudly we can say this has been without any interruption. As always, this is a special time for all of us at Persian Heritage, when I get to wish our dearest readers, in Iran and the Diaspora a very happy and healthy new year, one I hope will be filled with equality and liberty for Iran and its citizens.

Last year, like the past 37-38 years, was another difficult one for the Iranian people. External forces and pressures, especially from the United States, made attempts to cripple the regime in Iran, which led to more difficulty for the people. Economic burdens continue to weigh on the general population. Factories and manufacturers went out of business and their innocent workers lost their livelihoods. These innocent victims went months without pay. The hardships they felt and struggled with exploded into demonstrations on the streets of cities throughout Iran. The demonstrations, engineered by two powerful Ayatollahs, started in Mashad. The protest, however, as engineered and expected to proceed, grew in demands. The people demanded the end to the present regime, demanded a separation of church and state, demanded an end to corruption, demanded an end to the draining of the national treasury, demanded equality for men and women and demanded freedom of speech. The demonstrations began to spread to cities throughout the country. With the regime losing control of their orchestrated protest the demonstrators were confronted by harsh retaliations by the authorities. Unfortunately, the regime’s armed military forces continue to outpower the demonstrators and hence the anticipated gains by the Iranian people were not as desired. The slogans, however, used by the demonstrators, were heard by the Diaspora and the demonstrators gained outside support in the United States and Western European countries. Groups took to the streets to demonstrate. In the United States some groups came with their own agendas causing a division in the Diaspora. The result was clear, outside support did not have much positive affect on the demonstrations inside Iran. Even more importantly, the division of the Diaspora clearly showed that changes in Iran will not come from those outsides of Iran. Change will come from Iranians living in Iran. They are the ones who are brave and suffer daily from the hardships imposed on them. They are the ones who will bring about a permanent CHANGE. They will bring about CHANGE, a CHANGE that may be slow to evolve, but one that will bring reforms that give equality to men and women, fairly deal with the corruption among the elite, stop the draining of the national treasury, see a separation of church and state, allow for political choice and allow freedom of speech.

One must applaud the bravery of young and older women in Iran’s women’s movement. These brave women stood on electrical utility boxes at city squares. They removed their white headscarves and held them in their hands, waiving them, demanding an elimination of the law imposing the hijab. They stood in public and demanded equality for women in all aspects and did so in the name of peace. This movement had a startling effect on the world. It exposed a side of Iranian women never been seen before. In the last 37-38 years Iranian women have struggled for their rights from forced covering by the hijab, to rightful professions and employment. These women exemplify most of University students in Iran. These women are responsible for raising children through many hardships and introducing successful and brave young men and women into society. This time, single handedly by taking off their headscarves in public venues throughout Iran, they showed the world they are no longer willing to be victims of oppression. They are determined to stand strong against the reign of dictators, standing up for their rights despite the possible consequences by the government: arrest, prison and torture. The world watched as a basiji (government police) pushed a woman off the utility pedestal onto the ground. She fell face down. This image made its way around the world through news and social media. This unimaginable savagery by a regime will stay forever in the hearts and minds of the people. 

This past year life became more and more difficult for the average person in Iran, weakening their hope for a better tomorrow. Iranians will again have to reach deep inside for additional strength to brave the days ahead. The earthquake in Kermanshah is a reminder of how the regime’s incompetence became more visible in the eye of the citizens. A country with extraordinary resources and wealth, uses its finances to export weaponry and military support to its neighbors, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen and pours millions into Venezuela and Africa to build hospitals and schools for the people of these states, and leaves its own earthquake victims without shelter, medical and living supplies after all these months. It is shameful to see such atrocities committed by a government against its own people. How can this government look at their citizens living in tents with their bodies covered by cold sores and frostbite? They have lost their basic living needs. It is shameful to see these conditions in a country so filled with wealth, a wealth used for its own agenda rather than for the betterment and survival of its citizens. Hospitals and schools are still not restored. This regime’s lack of meaningful political dialogue diminished necessary aid from foreign countries to Iranian earthquake victims. It is not hard to understand that because of the rhetoric, Iran and Iranians have earned the worst reputation in the world. How ironic is it that Iran, one of the largest powers in the region, one of the greatest empires that ruled over 3900 BC, the oldest civilization, has become one of the most defamed countries in the world. A country that took pride in its human rights position under Cyrus the Great and a country where the lyrics of the famous poet Saadi stands above the door of the United Nations (all humans are interconnected as one body), because of its political incompetency has been reduced to a rogue and terrorist nation. 

It is a sad day when the bodies of young and old scholars are buried under the snowy hills of the mountains. Their lifeless bodies are unable to be found and delivered back to their loved ones for proper burial because of a plane crash; a plane that should have been grounded due to outdated parts unable to be purchased because of sanctions placed by the US and its Western European allies. How is it that Dubai and Qatar get to have the most modern planes made available to them and have interests in the airline industry, while Iranians and visitors to Iran must board old and outdated planes, placing the lives of its crew and passengers in danger, on a daily basis? Why isn’t human life more important than politics? This was not an isolated incident, EVERYDAY we hear news of these incidents. EVERYDAY we learn of the demonstrators, asking only for their basic human rights, be silenced by the authorities. EVERYDAY we learn of women, asking only to be treated as equals, be pushed around and thrown into the prisons of Evin and others. EVERYDAY we learn about the Dervishes (Sufis) who are being brutalized by the authorities because their fellow members are silenced by the authorities. EVERYDAY we learn about the imprisonment of environmental scientists. EVERYDAY we learn about of the murders of famed scientists and others dead by alleged suicide. The alleged suicide of Professor Kavous Seyed Emami an Iranian Canadian and well respected professor, environmentalist and scientist reminded me of the suicide of Saied Emami, known as an exterminator of human beings, who died some time ago. This is the new strategy of silencing unwanted voices. 

I live with hope in my heart that by next year I will be able to write my editorial in Persian Heritage and it will be filled with good and joyful news and that pride will be returned to Iran and Iranians. I hope that I will be writing about an Iran, that will embrace the current Diaspora. I hope I will be writing about an Iran who welcomes its Diaspora back to Iran to take part in bringing Iran back to its days of greatness. I hope I will be writing to you about an Iran who will be able to retain its highly educated citizens in all fields of medicine, industry, technology, science, research, education and the arts, rather than an Iran who currently is witnessing a “brain drain” to the West. And, I hope that I will writing about an Iran and citizens, who while never losing their PRIDE and LOVE for their country, history and culture, will now be open to show and help the world to rediscover their Iran and its people, as it was when it first laid its imprint on the world.

Once again, as we celebrate Norooz, I wish our dearest readers and the world a peaceful, prosperous and kinder new year. 

 

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