How is it like to be an Iranian these days?

The following letter is written on July 4th, 2009 and is added to the content of this post.

Hello. This is a student who wishes to be able to help his friends in Iran. People are my friends. Friends are always friends. You might be shocked by the tragic story we are broadcasting you. Almost all the Iranians are shocked as well. Do not panic.  This is not new for us. It is almost a hundred years that we are struggling for freedom.

Last days we have been spending all of our time with our laptops refreshing, sharing, uploading, calling and following the news. It’s not basically a big change in our life styles. We always follow the news. Actually, we do not have trustful news so we are always trying to guess what is happening behind the scenes.

May be some people are still asking for facts. Facts that prove it was a fraud election. We no longer refer to facts.  Facts are us that demand to talk to the world. The facts are our people, standing bravely in front of bullets. No one with a fake petition does that. The fact is that Iranian people are not Radical Islamists nor completely secular.

We are experts of our experiences. Iranians have experienced a revolution willing to build a political infrastructure that values equality and social rights. Our parents’ generation demanded to be involved in the government decision-making process. We also experienced eight years of war. Iran has lost hundred thousands of its people to protect their borders, families and children. We reconstructed the country and dealt with pressers caused by a ruined economy.

I was 15 and had to go to school with a dress code that did not let us wear Jeans, short pants, short sleeves, long hair etc.  We were not allowed to listen to music, drink alcohols, and have a boy or girl friend and so on.  Do not panic, we actually did all the above. How ever, we have also paid their costs. We moved underground. Closed our doors to the government and covered the windows with thick curtains. Public life does not have a clear meaning in Iran, at least, with your standards. We held our parties inside our homes and played and sang our songs inside our underground life.

The government forced our mothers and sisters to wear scarves (Hejab).  Lots of people left the country. Many were arrested and those who were against the government were killed. We overcome the situation because we hate violence. We tried to adapt ourselves to all of constraints and laws, which have never satisfied our cultural needs. Our true history started to disappear from the books. TV channels stopped showing the real people. The government became representative of a specific target.  We were no longer in the news. We are censored in our national TV channels.

An opportunity for reform occurred in 1997. We voted a reformist president (Mohammad Khatami) who promised to open talks with the world. I was seventeen in that time

Magazines and books started to publish in large numbers and couples started to walk in the streets. Bands appeared, professionals had a chance to work and intellectuals started to write. Hope was on track.

I was student of Arts that the supreme leader and the hard-liners started their critics. They disliked the situation. We were becoming out of control. Messages that Iranians were delivering to the outside world did not match to those of the supreme leader and his confidant conservative advisors. They attacked universities, which were the heart of the reform movement. They committed terrors. They arrested all the people who were human rights or political activists. They banned magazines and filtered Internet. They tried to disconnect us with the world.

In our last election they supported former Tehran’s mayor, Ahmadinejad, with his populist slogans and promises. He targeted people who live in the bottom of the pyramid and spent humongous amount of money to satisfy them before and after her presidency.  They put the middle class under an astonishing pressure.  Many people including families, investors and scholars left the country. Iranian people remained patient for four years until the election time comes. We participated effectively in the election to send our message to the world and the government. We started our dialogue in terms of democracy. We wanted change and we did not want him as our president.

On the Election Day, while the election was not finished yet, the News websites that are supported by the government started to publish “the” results! Later, they proudly claimed that the interior ministry has counted all the paper ballots in few hours. Impossible! 40 million ballots! They claimed that Ahmadinjead has won the election with results that were strongly unacceptable. They released the results in an immature way. They did it in a humiliating way.

What do they think about us, the Iranians? Why did they assume us unwise? Do they really think that we do not have minds to judge? Our brains still do perform. Ears still hear. Eyes observe.  Cell phones record videos! What do they know about their people?

The Iranian government angered people. They humiliated our proud. They embarrassed us as human beings. This is difficult to tolerate. May you empathize? Have you seen the photos of the protests in the street? I do not tend to call our people protesters. They are not protesters. They are simply, people. Huge number of people marched from “Revolution Square” to “Freedom Square”. Iranians marched through streets of their cities in silence willing to avoid the expected violent reaction of the government.  The Basiji guards shot people. The police aggressively tortured people. They arrested political activists, attacked universities, censored the news, blocked SMS and cell phones and shot innocent people such as Neda.

Our cell phone cameras recorded the painful moments, You-tube is still a host for our videos and social networking websites lend a hand to spread the news. We are the breaking news now. Today, everybody who has followed the news knows Neda as only one of the people who were killed in last dark days. Many people have watched the video recorded by the window of a girl who whispers: “Where is here? Why we are betrayed helpless here?”

How is like to be an Iranian by the way? I will put it in the picture. You are angry these days. You are frustrated. You need to talk, discuss and avoid staying alone. You cannot concentrate on your job or studies. You are all into your laptop. You feel sad, you insult the government and those who shoot the crowd forgetting that the green people are not targets but humans. You wonder, when you watch every coming video. You get shocked with the way they hit people with their buttons.  Tears roll no matter caused by sorrow or tear gas. You shiver when you see blood on the streets that you used to walk and live on. Can I walk through that street again? Can I urge to recall the history?

You are sad and disappointed but proud. You feel proud when you see a woman with a green nail polish who has joined the crowd, carrying her child. You wonder how brave is the young girl who is faced to face with the guards and shows her hand written placard: Where is my vote? You stand still when you see the picture of a grandma’ pointing to the camera with her fingers, gesturing a V sign. You admire the boy holding an A4 paper to the crowd: Silence. You feel proud and you are worried about safety of your people.

That is how being an Iranian feels these days. We are all proud. We all participate. We all support. We all think in order to find a nonviolent way toward the democracy we wish to have. We feel responsible. We need to be respected.

Please postpone your judgment. We need your eyes to observe. We need your ears to listen and we need your hearts to remain open. My last words: Remember us.

Good luck with you all.


One Response to How is it like to be an Iranian these days?

  1. ناشناس says:

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