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Norooz and 24 Years Publication of Persian Heritage

March 19, 2019 by  

From the Editorial Desk – Shahrokh Ahkami​ – Persian Heritage, #93, Spring 2019

Once again spring has arrived and so has the 24th year of Persian Heritage. As always, I extend my best Norooz wishes to all our readers and supporters. I always wait to write my editorial to the last minute before publication. This is to the annoyance of the other staff members. I do this because I hold out hope that the editorial will report good news about Iran and its position in the international world. I waited to the last minute again. Sadly, I will not be writing about hopeful good news. Sadly, I will write again about the desperation, trial and tribulations the citizens of Iran continue to face.

A few days ago, after no calls or emails, I finally heard from an old friend from Iran. This gentleman, his entire life, had positive dreams for Iran. He sacrificed so much to help rebuild the most deprived areas in Iran and educate the people who lived there. He is now in the final season of his life. At a time when he should be free of all anxiety, he remains anxious for the future of his fellow citizens.

I complained to him about not hearing from him. In his response to me I could hear his wonderful smile. I also heard in his voice, despite his hardships he was about to share with me, his optimism and continued compassion for the Iranian people. “Dear Shahrokh, you live in a part of the world who doesn’t understand that here, the smallest of our needs, regardless of the emergency, can take two weeks to two months to be met. For some time my house phone, cell phone and computer did not function. Unless you know someone influential in the phone company it will take weeks to fix. My computer which is my access to the world, despite censorship and its slowness, ceased to function. I, at my age did not have the skill to repair it. Because it was a small job for an expert to repair, they would not fix it. I was at the mercy of the savvy youth to fix it. Finally, I was back online. And my cell which could not connect eventually came back on. You, my dear friend, are the first person I spoke with since these mechanical failures.” I extended my sympathies to him for his trouble to which he replied,” My dear friend the computer and phone problems I faced did not compare to what my fellow citizens are facing every day, STARVATION, HOMELESSNESS, ADDICTION, INCARCERATION…. These things and not my personal trials are what cause my anxiousness and worries.” In response I asked what would happen if at his age he needed medical care. With sarcasm in his voice he answered, “Oh my dear friend you are so out of the loop. You are sitting across the world and are clueless. On this side of the world, human life has no value. The death of a 70-year-old and older person is not an issue. They are considered by death to be saved from future pain and misery.” With more sarcasm he continued, “Since you have your nose in everyone’s business you know more than anyone else, what is happening in this country! Because of censorship, we do not get complete access to all the news. Didn’t you see what happened to a local paper as a result of referring to the arrival of Syria’s President Assad in Tehran as the “Uninvited Guest “? So, remember please do not worry about my health, worry more for those who are younger who lose their lives to addiction, financial hardships, oppression and lack of health care. If I am cut off from the world, as an old man, should be of no concern in comparison to what others are going through.” 

I then recalled a story about the Former Minister of Health. This individual, a physician who studied medicine in Mashhad, upon graduating became the administrator of one of the most modern retina hospitals in the Middle East. He became one of the richest ministers of President Rohani’s cabinet (like the tremendous wealth of the cabinet members of president Trump.) This minister put up bail in the amount of one billion Tumans to bail out Rohani’s brother from jail. It was amazing that he posted this much cash for that, yet when asked for funding for treatment of children with cancer the response was that no one wanted to spend too much money extending a child’s life by only three years. And, when asked if funding could be given for physical therapy the response was go to the bathhouses and get a massage, the results will be the same.

The conversation with my friend was lengthy and covered many issues. We continued to discuss the Tehran newspaper that was immediately shut down after headlining the visit of Assad as the “Uninvited Guest.” In an effort to deflect news of the visit, the news was replaced by Mr. Zarif’s resignation, (the foreign minister) and his possible replacement by General Soleimani, who was a principal in the Middle East wars. (Mr. Zarif has spent the greater part of his last forty years outside of Iran and his children like other elites are real estate moguls, building high rise buildings in Iran and living very comfortably). Anyway, it appeared that Mr. Zarif was insulted over not being invited to a meeting between Assad and other Iranian officials. Because of this in an Instagram and using a diplomatic gesture, he said goodbye to the people. It is rumored that he resigned thirteen times within the past five- and one-half years. These events successfully deflected the people from the story of the “Uninvited Guest”, the reasons for his visit and the closing of paper. It is well reported that Iran promised Assad to build 20 to 30 thousand high rises in Syria. What remains a mystery is what else Assad was promised and received from Iran. It is a certainty, however, that Assad, whose pockets were empty when he entered Iran were filled when he left with his famous smile. Even more interesting is that once the Supreme leader and Rohani were certain Assad left Iran’s border (Rohani’s border) and following a media blitz on Facebook and other communication sources, Mr. Zarif returned to his desk as foreign minister and was invited by Assad to visit Damascus.

Our topics of discussion reminded me of the days when the big powers of the world were signing major oil and other deals with Iran. To diffuse the public attention, the front page of the newspapers showed the execution of individuals who committed petty crimes. The major news was hidden in small lines inside the paper. Iran continues on a path where the citizens come second. A prime example of this is the lack of funds and interest by the government to rebuild housing units for the homeless victims of the Kermanshah earthquake. People remain housed in tents that are rotting from the elements, while Iranian funds are being afforded to build modern schools, high rise apartments, buildings and hospitals in Iraq, Syria, Palestine, Lebanon and Africa. This is CARELESS and SHAMELESS behavior by the government.
Iran’s culture and history are being attacked. At the time of Assad’s visit there was a news conference. An Iranian reporter mentioned the Persian Gulf. He was immediately corrected by his Arab colleagues that the name is the Arabian Gulf. Why does Iran support the Arabs who ignore and do not respect the proper water borders of Iran? For over 1400 years the Arabs, who received financial and spiritual benefits from Iran, in return have done nothing but damage and destroy Iran’s cultural integrity. It is beyond my comprehension why the government, who stands strong in support of other countries, does not put up a stronger fight to right these wrongs and preserve all that was and is the GREATNESS of Iran. 

It is crazy that a simple phone call to a friend directed me to these topics. I proceed to yet another one. Because there isn’t anything politically good to write about Iran I will continue this editorial with a discussion on the person in charge of human rights at the United Nations. He stated, “I condemn the continuation of child executions, torture, unfair trials of dual citizens, illegal arrests, false accusations, brutal interrogations and the denial of medical aid to prisoners. In 2018 at least 6 youths were indicted and executed.

Brian Hook, who is the Special Representative for Iran at the United States State Department stated that the Iranian regime in the last forty years has the worse United Nation’s record for the violation of human rights, imprisonment and ethnic cleansing of those who practice minority religions. The German government stated that in 2018, 223 people were executed in Iran. They were happy to report that this number was down from 477 executions in 2016 and 429 executions in 2017. It seems odd that the execution of only 223 people instead of 477 is something to celebrate. Most of these individuals were petty thieves; not the execution and imprisonment of those stealing billions of dollars from its people and giving it to other countries! For what purpose I ask? The Iranian citizens know that friendships bought are superficial and such friendships turn on a dime. Hasn’t the government learned the lesson that by not putting its citizens first they have caused them and their country tremendous damage?
In the free world, because of freedom and higher education capital punishment has been abolished. On the other hand, the present Iranian regime uses executions as examples on why one should not do something wrong. People cannot afford housing, medical care and food. They have difficulties in gathering enough money to buy only bread because the price of meat and chicken is too high. They are being forced into actions not in their nature, such as stealing. The government, instead of understanding them, severely prosecutes them. The Ayotallahs whose stomachs are not growling from hunger pains tell the people that they must be more tolerant and become vegetarians.

The government of Iran has tried to deflect the attention of its people away from their starvation, lack of shelter, medicine etc. to religion. They promised the people heaven and the infidels hell. But, the Iranian people, once vulnerable to the rhetoric, now believe that for all Muslims hell is here on earth. They now understand that except for those in power, they live in the hell of oppression, starvation and have no shelter or freedoms. They come to believe that there is no heaven or eternity.

For years Iran has been chastised for building a nuclear power plant. With the excuse of Iran’s potential to become a nuclear power (which they know is not possible) the powerful countries of the world placed tremendous economic sanctions on the country. But it is not the elite who suffer from the impact of such sanctions. It is rather the people who intensely suffer.

The fate of the Bushehr nuclear plant is interesting. The building of the plant, which placed billions of dollars in the hands of the United States, Germany and finally Russia. It took almost thirty years to become active and is now closed. The government states the reason is for repairs, but the rumors say it is because they cannot afford to run it. The question will always remain that in Iran where there are vast sources of natural energy from the oil and sun, whether there is a need for a nuclear plant at all.
What warms my heart every day is the Iranian people’s integrity and grit. They continue to press on and achieve honors in educational, art, music, scientific, medical and literary achievements. They are the true future of Iran.
HAPPY NOROOZ.

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