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The future of Iran and Refugees

October 21, 2018 by  

From Editorial Desk Shahrokh Ahkami PH, #91, Fall 2018

Over the past three months there have been rumors circulating regarding a change to the forty-year reign of Iran’s present regime. Along with the rumors came several individuals, with different agendas and political views, hoping to return to Iran and be given a leadership position. They have aspirations of returning to a country, rich in human and natural resources, and saving it. These individuals ​prematurely are celebrating amongst themselves and at gatherings attended by American leaders. They anticipated that within a short period of time Iranians would be holding these same celebrations on Iran’s soil, lifting their glasses and toasting the new regime and leadership.
Their actions, aspirations and promises were heard by the people of Iran who are desperate for a legitimate change. The people in Iran also heard many threats being made against Iran, by US leasdership and the Secretary of State. None of the threats, however, included a regime change. Soon the bubbles in their celebrating Champaign toasts fizzled along with their dreams. 
Demonstrations began throughout the country. During these demonstrations there were lives lost, each one precious, and once again prisons were being filled with “so called” political prisoners. The people of Iran’s patience with current regime and its corruption, inflation and broken promises are wearing thin. They are frustrated that once again, their dreams of the world seeing the truth about Iran, a country that throughout history was founded and led by wisdom, is again facing the possibility of becoming a target of war. They are afraid that they and the country they so love will never become part of the modern world. They are saddened that Iran and Iranians are being driven further away from respect by the outside world. They hate that admiration for their achievements is being replaced by hatred. They are troubled that their status in the outside world of being peaceful, intelligent and achievers is being changed to “terrorists.” They fear that the arms that use to greet them in friendship and acceptance are now cold, shutting them out. They are sickened by the fact that they and Iran, because of its leadership are being called terrorists and a terrorist supporting nation. 
After the Revolution many Iranians were fortunate to save themselves and their families by escaping Iran. Their journey was treacherous taking them over dangerous mountains. They disguised themselves as sheep to avoid being beaten and robbed by thugs and thieves. They made their way across the borders of Turkey and Pakistan thinking they would find a new life. Little did they know that they would be confronted with a different kind of threat; they were met with resentment and animosity. This same story plagued those who continue to leave Iran. Some find themselves in the refugee prisons of Australia, some show up on the shores of Turkey, Greece and England. Some arrive with their mouths sewn to demonstrate the atrocities committed against them. Others drowned because of boating accidents. All of them suffering the journey, the elements, the humiliation to taste a freedom absent from their own country. 
Adding to this undeserving plight of the Iranians are the West’s new harsh sanctions, in fact the sanctions have been labeled to be the harshest ever to be placed on a country. Everyone knows that these sanctions will not remotely affect the leadership of that country but will continue to devastate its citizens. Poverty, starvation, homelessness and complete despair plagues them. It is the hope of the West and its’ allies that by demoralizing and squeezing every ounce of life from the citizens of Iran that they will fight against this regime. What the West has not learned about Iranians is that they are a proud people who love their history and its soil under its feet. Doesn’t the West remember that the sanctions and the devastation it caused on the people of Iran during the eight-year war with Iraq, did not weaken the people’s loyalty to their soil and country? They will fight to the finish not to have Iran cut up like other nations around them. Does the West not understand that the eight-year war did not weaken the power of the regime but rather strengthened it? When will the West learn that placing sanctions effects only the citizens and results in more suffering for them. Factories and businesses are shutting down and livelihoods eliminated. Out of frustration Iranians are taking to the streets in demonstration of their severe hardships. Instead of being listened to by their own government or that of the West they are being met with the guns and knives of this present regime. They are caught between the rejection of the West and the brutality of their own government. Children are becoming orphans and couples’ widowers and widows. Survival is found in prostitution.
Sadly, Mashhad, the holy city in Iran, a symbol of purity and religious value, is now the city with the highest number of prostitutes, unethical and moral behavior. The religious leaders (Mullahs) in the City are using rhetoric to promote purity to sell their virginity and to sell them off as prostitutes. They price their purity and their navelless based on their chastity. They entertain their Iraqi guests and promote the idea that by sleeping with these individuals they are giving back to Islam.
Instead of using all the donations and the Razavi Funds that encompass a large amount of wealth development to fix the infrastructure of the city and contribute to state government taxes, they lock up the boxes of donations and go about their corrupt ways of pimping and prostituting. I wonder Ayatollah Alamolhoda, Mashad’s religious leader and Friday prayer bristler (who was the head of this clan and should be prosecuted for his actions), would be willing to sell, to their Iraqi guests, their own daughters, wives, sisters or granddaughters for the good of God and advancement of Islam. Listening to this man speak with his projective voice makes me and should make everyone shiver in disgust. It should make us weep and feel regret and sorrow for these helpless victims. How have Iranians gone from holding degrees and employment selling their personal belongings, their assets and now their bodies and the integrity of their sisters, daughters and granddaughters to put food on the table to survive. And, if these people can survive the physical will they be able to survive the emotional and disease? It repulses me!!!
I remember many years ago one of my visits to Mashad to visit my family. At that time the economy was not too bad. While there, I went site seeing to places I had not seen for a long time and to see the new sites. I was fascinated by the changes in the infrastructure. As I was enjoying my day a young ten-year-old boy with a very innocent look on his face started pestering me to polish my shoes. To be honest all my life, I have always held a grudge against polishing shoes. Even during my military service some of my room mates would end up polishing my boots because it was always a bother to me. The boy persisted, and I continuously ignored him until I looked at his face. His eyes were filled with tears. I asked him, “what are you doing at this time of night alone on the streets and why are you crying?”
He told me that he had not been able to earn any money all day and if he went home empty handed his mom would punish him. Within seconds my own tears began streaming down my face. All I could do at that moment was to empty my pockets and give him all the money I had on me. After I did this he turned to me with a face filled with pride, “Sir but I did not polish your shoes. Why are you giving me this money? I am not a beggar!” His comments saddened me even more and suddenly I realized that this young boy was stronger, braver, honest and more of a gentleman than me. I then asked him, “If I let you polish my shoes will you take money for it?” He responded, “Of course I will but only for the amount I earned for the work.” I could not believe the integrity of this young boy. I was so shaken by his response I begged him to please take the money because it was my wish and it would make me very happy. 
To this day I remember his face and that conversation. (Yes, in the end he took the money and in his sweet Mashadi accent thanked me and started to polish my shoes.) I noticed that he was wearing torn up, oversized shoes. Quietly I asked him why his shoes were so much bigger than his actual foot size. He told me that his shoes were his older brothers and that they only had one pair in his house. They had to share the shoes. He got to wear them when he went to work. These statements frazzled me even more. I asked the two people with me to empty their pockets and give me all the money they had on them. I then handed it to the boy and wished him well. He thanked me and said a prayer, then disappeared into the night. This event goes back more than 30 years and as I said remains a vivid memory. In fact, I might have told this story once before in an editorial.
But today, with the crisis taking place in Iran, this story though holds an important message. I thought about what would have become of this little boy, had we not given him this assistance. I thought about what would have happened to him if he didn’t have money to bring home that day. I thought about where he was today. I thought about what kind of life has he led. I wondered if he fought in one of the wars outside of Iran or maybe the eight-year war with Iraq. Did he become a martyr? I thought about his mother, did she send her children to work so she did not have to sell herself to put bread on the table. Then I thought maybe there were no Imams ( Friday prayer bristlers) at the time, preaching to women to go prostitute themselves for survival. Thinking these thoughts caused my face to become wrinkled with anger. BUT then I thought, just maybe this boy, with his handsome face, had become an important successful man who could provide for his entire family. That thought made me smile. 
My thoughts came back quickly to the corruption taking place in Iran, the mullahs stealing the wealth of the people, draining the banks, stealing from donation boxes and transferring the money to foreign banks overseas. I came across the news story of an Ayatollah’s relative, who by taking millions if not trillions of (Trillions) Tumans from the bank caused the institution to become bankrupt. He then changed the money into dollars placed it in a truck and on his way to Turkey he was caught, and the money was seized by the Turks. (No one knows what happened to him.) Unfortunately Turkey profited tremendously by his actions and the actions of the corrupt government in Iran. It is of interest to note that a law that would have resulted in the confiscation of possessions of these corrupt individuals and would have exposed the Mullahs, was never passed in the house.
Another item in the news is Mr. Rouhani, the Iranian president. He appears to be sinking deeper into trouble and losing his credibility and popularity. He is slowly losing his grip with the young Mullahs in Qom. They are putting up posters that threaten to replace him and strip him of his powers; seems to be the same thing they did to Rafsanjani. 
These events taking place in Iran today: threats against the presidency, threats against his life, from the West, the warnings from the French government recommending a travel ban on Iran by their citizens, flight restrictions, the cutoff of airlines flying to Iran and the chaos over the treaty on the Caspian Sea are bringing strong reaction by the people. They are comparing Mr. Rouhani’s agreement on this treaty with the events during the Qajar dynasty, when half of the Caspian Sea was given to the Russians and then referred to as the Dead Sea. That treaty took place during a time when the people of Iran were vulnerable. The people were taken advantage by the Russians. Today the people are again vulnerable and will be taken advantage of by the Chinese, Russians and others. Only the future holds the answer to the outcome of this treaty and other actions. It is noteworthy to mention the influence the Chinese have in this region especially Kish Island. Rumors are that there is a twenty-five-year lease with the Chinese for this island to use the fishing resources and other natural resources. This should not for one second look to anyone as business as usual. It should be looked as the beginning of a process to sell off Iranian land and water rights to outsiders. Let’s not forget the sale of drinking water to Kuwait while Iran’s own districts are suffering from water shortages, i.e. Khouzestan, neighboring and southern districts. For Iran and its people, I pray that these rumors do not become realities.
As always, I wish you, Iranians and the soil of Iran for better days ahead filled with peace and tranquility.

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