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Norous among different crises

March 6, 2020 by  

From the Editorial Desk – Shahrokh Ahkami – Persian Heritage, #97, Spring 2020

Norouz is a symbol of rebirth, joy and the celebration of the arrival of spring. It is the beginning of a new year for Iranians. Instead of being filled with joy and happiness this Norouz finds the people of Iran with more suffering, more worries, more sadness, more anxiety and more agony. Despite this suffering that is visible to those of us outside of Iran and seems to have become part of their daily routine, we still try to engage in celebration. We still extend our best wishes for a healthy, happy and prosperous Norouz to those who celebrate around the world. The arrival of Norouz coincides with the 25th anniversary of Persian Heritage magazine. I want to personally thank all those who make Persian Heritage a success; our dedicated workforce, our contributors, our subscribers, our readers and our sponsors.

The focus of the first few years of Persian Heritage’s publication was creating a magazine that concentrated on Persian art and culture and the significance Iran and Iranians have made in the world. We were determined to show the world the history and accomplishments of all who share Iranian/Persian heritage. We focused on a history that goes back thousands of years; one with a proud culture. We encouraged the younger generation Iranians to continue their cultural values and explained the importance of passing their traditions and customs down to their children. We did this through articles and interviews.

THEN CAME THE HOSTAGE CRISIS, and with it the incarceration of political prisoners, executions, political asylum cases and the Diaspora who wandered around the world looking for a country that would take them in; a place they could make a new home and a new life. Some believed and hoped it would be temporary, others realized that Iran’s future would be a struggle. Many years have passed since the Revolution. The circumstances in Iran have become more unbearable; conditions have worsened, and the number of political prisoners increased. Currently over two hundred thousand prisoners remain in the dungeon like conditions of the Iranian prison system. Iran became oppressors with the numbers of prisoners and executions compatible with countries such as China, Saudi Arabia and the US. In fact, Iran surpasses these countries in the number of executions. It is ironic and sad to see the country where I grew up, who taught harmony, love, compassion and respect for your neighbor, now professes oppression against the young, old, men and women.

In analyzing the situation, it is easy to see why the young people, willing to sacrifice their freedom and lives to voice their opinions, are being executed by this regime, without remorse! THEIR VOICES CAN ONLY BE HEARD IF THEY ARE NOT MUTED! It is Ironic that this regime, in the name of a religion that preaches truth, morals and values, does nothing but lie to their people. They sensationalize and create their own events in order to redirect the people’s interests from their quest for human rights and other issues of concern. This government’s technique started with the horrific war between Iran and Iraq. After three years of fighting, Saddam was willing to end and pay retributions, but the Iranian regime continued the war for another five years. This war, in defense of Iran’s borders lasted eight years and cost the lives of thousands of innocent people and trillions of dollars in damages.

Every time Iran got closer to mending its relationship with the West, due to this regime’s inability or bad policymaking and in order to divert their citizen’s legitimate protest against them, they created another international conflict. They did this through intentional actions and words. They did this with the specific intention to silence the discontent of the Iranian people AND to cover up their own CORRUPT policies and ineptness.

Look at the neighboring countries of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Dubai, Qatar and Turkey. They have provided a stable economy and life for their citizens. These countries have created a future for their youth allowing them to benefit from the fruits of their labor. The regime in Iran has done nothing but create more misery for its people (young and old). It has destabilized the country and thrown it into an economic crisis! They have placed their citizens and the future of the youth in great peril. I fear the strength and the spirit of the people of Iran has been weakened by this regime’s rhetoric but pray that their determination has not been broken!

The destabilization of Iran’s economy, by this regime, has allowed them more power against their citizens. They have become, like weeds, so deeply rooted in Iran’s soil that I fear it is becoming almost impossible, short of a war, to pull them from their grasp of power. The people’s voices, in protest to the injustices and suffering placed on them and the women disputing their right to wear or not wear the Hijab, are being quickly silenced. They are being jailed or worse murdered!

In recent months there have been new uprisings in Iran. They have resulted in an estimated four-five thousand deaths committed by the government (contrary to the government’s estimate of a few hundred.) Interesting enough there is no way to verify the accuracy of the numbers, but even one death of an innocent person, speaking out for their rights, is unacceptable.

The people of Iran are looking to be heard. They no longer want anything to do with this regime. The inflation and sanctions imposed on them, because of this regime’s behavior, has crippled the economy. People are tired of living in these conditions. According to the U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo, Iran has lost over fifty billion dollars because of the sanctions. Despite the U.S.’s position that these sanctions are not affecting food and medication delivery to Iran, the sanctions are impacting the flow of these goods getting to the people in Iran. These are the effects of the present regime’s policies; a regime that is brutal and shows no mercy for its people. A regime that has allowed deaths of thousands and the suffering of millions.

After the shameful announcement by the Ministry of Petroleum of an increase in the price of gasoline, the people of Iran poured into the streets in defiance. This defiance cost many their lives. Parents of the victims were unable to find and recover the bodies of their dead children and family members. Next came the Ukrainian plane crash, a tragic event that resulted in the loss of men, women and children. The world and Iranians were shocked by the television images of the plane being struck by an Iranian missile. So obvious and yet this regime at first denied responsibility. The reason for the downing of this airplane remains unknown. Now the Iranian people are dealing with the coronavirus. It is interesting how the coronavirus has once again, diverted the people away from finding the truth about the Ukrainian airplane.

The Iranian people have dealt with years of suffering and unspeakable tragedies. With the results of the recent Parliamentary elections in Iran, it appears there will be little relief from that suffering. It is obvious that the choices of the participants in these elections once again shows the lack of credibility this regime holds with its citizens. The people did not show up to the polls! How and why would they, when there were no choices to activate a change in the course of their government or their future. According to a friend in Iran, I was informed that less then forty percent turned out to vote. The people believed that not voting would be a silent protest against the government; a way to demonstrate their disapproval of this regime. It has been stated that after the Revolution seventy-five percent of the public voted yes to the electoral candidates. The results of this Parliamentary vote yielded a seventy-five percent vote of no. This is evidence of the lack of public support for this regime and its policies; it hopefully demonstrates that this regime is on a downward path and will soon be removed, (BUT WHAT WILL BE THE COST)?

It is this regime that knew of the existence of the coronavirus in Iran prior to these elections. Yet there was no public announcement about the dangers of this virus on the people; yet another betrayal by this regime on its people and world citizens living and working in Iran. Their delay in announcing the virus and precautions to be taken is why the spread of the virus in Iran was rapid and unavoidable! How is it possible for the Deputy Minister of Health to stand on the stage and deny the widespread effect of the virus in Iran? In the end, he ultimately contracted the virus.

This complacency, denial and lack of concern for Iranian citizens is another example of this regimes inability or desire to place its citizens first. It is another example of how their own power wealth and wellbeing trumps that of its people. It is another example of how this regime has caused more tragic deaths of Iranians. To date it is reported that the government’s numbers of people who have tested positively for the coronavirus in Iran, highly differs from the numbers being reported by hospitals and health professionals. Another coverup? For what reason? I do not have an answer, I only know that as of February 28, 2020 an additional two hundred and ten deaths of innocent people in Iran needs to be added to the already thousands of others who have lost their lives at the hands of this regime, be it by execution, starvation, inept leadership, poor diplomatic skills and ineffective policy making.

Why is it that after China, Iran is the second highest infected country in the world and second in the number of deaths? Is it because of the secretive relationship between these two countries? Why, after an original three week ban on air travel to and from China, does Mahan Air continue its flights, bringing the Chinese in and out of China DESPITE the rest of the world ceasing travel in and out of China?

For me it is sad to see and hear the painful cries of suffering of the Iranian people; their mourning of unnecessary lives being lost. Where have the days of glorious Iran (Persia) gone? Persians survived and thrived after the invasion of the Arabs and Islam; after the atrocities that were committed in the name of religion. Cyrus the Great led the Persian Empire back into a world of life and brightness. But the ancient suffering for the Iranian people returned a few decades ago. This time the suffering is not by an invasion of outsiders! Sadly, the pain and suffering are being caused from its own government. A government who turns a blind eye to their suffering. A government who turns a blind eye to their people, who should be joyfully celebrating Norouz, going to theaters, parties, conferences, seminars and laughing with family and friends but instead are going to funerals and mourning the lives of their loved ones lost at the hands of this regime, all in the name of freedom!

I thought after celebrating the twenty- fifth year of Persian Heritage magazine that I would be writing a joyful editorial about Iran, Iranians and Norouz. UNFORTUNATELY, this will not happen this issue and NOT, this Norouz. JUST MAYBE NEXT!!!!!!!!!!!! TIME.

But even in these difficult times for the people of Iran, I HOPE for a better future, I HOPE they will find a moment to share love and joy with their families. I dedicate this poem, not as a journalist, but as an individual whose first twenty years of his life was molded by the warmth and deep-rooted culture of Iran.

 

In my heart you are the mirthful ray

You are the caring, though my companions they

Happy is the world with the Nowruz and with the Eid

You are both my Eid and my Nowruz today

 

اندر دل من مها دل افروز توئی

یاران هستند لیک دلسوز توئی

شادند جهانیان به نوروز و به عید

عید من و نوروز من امروز تویی

 

Mewlana Jalaluddin Rumi

 

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