Thursday, February 4, 2010

Thinking of all Iranian activists who are kidnapped

Thinking of lawyers, doctors; thinking of journalists, students; thinking of poets, of thinkers. thinking of all those whose unforgivable sin is to be intelligent; to learn, to question, to challenge; thinking of the human right activists; women activists, labor activists ... thinking of the horror the regime of Iran has promised to the greens over the upcoming days that Iran holds Iran accountable to the slogans of the revolution. I cannot feel excited about this 22 Bahman; because my sentiments about it have not changed from last year.

I hate revolutions; no matter how romanticized they are. I hate blood; I hate violence; I hate idealism; I hate fascism; I distrust their sustainability. I believe in evolution; in growth; in small steps; and I believe in compromise as long as it is possible, but then break up: divergence of paths and not collision, not pulling nor pushing.

A few days back; there was a very sad letter circulating on internet, by the father of Sorena Hashemi that touched me through this protective foam I am wearing around my heart these days. Sorena is an activist who was arrested in 2008 for exposing a case of sexual harassment committed by someone close to Ahmadinejad! In Iran, the rapists don't get tried; unless they are poor and belong to the disenfranchised, society, in which case they are hanged! In Iran, those who are the victims of rape by big shots are the ones who are imprisoned, intimidated, and suffer retribution! A few weeks ago, Sorena and his co-activist friend Alireze Firouzi went missing! To go "missing" in Iran is rather common! Even the judiciary system, with all its criminality, admits that there are units that operate outside the sphere of the judiciary control. In other words, all three levels of government: the executive; legislative and judiciary branches ADMIT that their abilities to do their job is limited by shadowy supra-legal (i mean above the law here) organizations!

In any case, the letter of Sorena's father, himself a war veteran (a prisoner of war, actually) hints at the militaristic background of these supra-legal shadows: "they are not my comrades; let me assume all my comrades were killed in the war ... let me assume these are aliens ..."

Sorena, my son, there was a time that your little photograph was the companion of my longing eyes, in the back of the trenches. We scraped off the earth from our bodies and went on to protect the country.

You were the most of my country and I had shielded your life with mine; not alone, with thousands. I was not alone …

One day, as bitter as these ones, the barrage of bullets and shells made earth the cradle of hundreds of bravehearts … they passed away, calmly, smiling with the memory their mother, wife, child … and content of receiving the bullet and sparing the blood of another …

I too got my share: a boot drenched in the blood of my face, electric wires in my flesh … I was content to be a war prisoner in exchange for your freedom, for your laughter. I was not alone.

Our identification was anonymity. We were the lost ones; we died one by one of disease, of torture, or under gunfire. There were no signs of our imprisonment.

I pledged my heart to the prison bars to see you free; my uniform bailing the wounds of my comrades and friends … to protect you.

But today is more bitter than those days … you are chained. You are not laughing. More than a month has passed and I know nothing but that you are chained.

Damn me; could you have inherited the prison from me?

Why am I alone? Where are my comrades? What if they slap you? What if they don’t know that you have fought Iraqi invaders since age of 20; pulling shells out of my skin.

I am alone.

Sorena; I have not forgotten the Zanjan university scandal: [In 2008, Sorena provided evidence that a dean of the university was attempting to rape a female student]

Those who violated the boundaries of the body of the children of this soil were not my comrades.

Those who tried to cover it up were not my comrades.

Those who imprisoned you and denied you the right to education, were not my comrades.

I know my comrades well!

Let me assume those who do this are not of us; they are aliens who wreak injustice.

Let me assume that all my comrades were killed and I remained alive to suffer … until perhaps one day, if there is a living martyr will hear me call out.

Once, I gave all I had for you to be free. Today that you are not free, I give all I have to see you alive … and to see you again.

Signature: Asghar Hashemi


Pedestrian said...

You know naj, Ahmadinejad and his thugs don't scare me as much as the divide I see in Iran today. Maybe it's a good thing that unlike the days of the revolution, everyone is not mindlessly jumping for the same thing ... I don't know! I just wonder if "break up: divergence of paths and not collision, not pulling nor pushing" is possible in Iran ... and how it would really look like.

Asghar Hashemi's letter was completely, utterly, absolutely heartbreaking. I can't even imagine the weight of the burden he must be carrying.

Naj said...

The divide?
It was united before?
Iran is never united; you have never had the entire population rally behind "one" thing. What is GOOD this time around is that people are daring to speak up and are daring to not pretend to unity. Every voice is welcome--even if it frightens us; it makes us here a tune we have been deaf to before. Great time for learning, really.

Naj said...


Publicola said...

1) Thanks for granting access to your - in my view - truly and extremely pertinent last year's posting on 22 Bahman, from Thursday, February 12, 2009
" 30 years ago ..." !

2)"What is GOOD this time around is that people are daring to speak up and are daring to not pretend to unity. Every voice is welcome--even if it frightens us; it makes us here a tune we have been deaf to before." - excellent statement (if I may permit myself to judge) !

Naj said...

my pleasure, German

David G. said...

Ah, the battle for freedom goes on around the world.

In some countries, freedom is curtailed by the State. In others, indoctrination has replaced thinking but the people think they are free when the truth is they're not.

Death brings the only freedom!

Anonymous said...

Dear Ms. Naj,
I've only followed the Iranian news for about 8 months, and can still only name two Iranian cities, but I've come to suspect that your attitude mirrows a peaceful current widespead in Iranian beliefs and culture.
I'm a Texan, and of a martial people who believe that sometimes you must paint your face,fight,and yes,kill.I believe tank fire is the best way to clear snipers.I believe the innocent dead pain me as much as they pain you. Your approach to Iran's problems offer the greatest hope.
Please allow me to wish you well.

Publicola said...

Having worked through the commentaries on your posting regarding 22 Bahman last year - " 30 years ago ..." ! - there is only one word to describe its and their impact on a reader:


[formerly "German"]

Publicola said...

Being utterly convinced that your last year’s posting on 22 Bahman was and still is – perhaps more than ever – a momentous, impressive, grand text, I dared translate it for the benefit of your German readers.

[If you agree, you might post it here in the commentary column; if you don’t agree, please delete this translation]

»Vor 30 Jahren…

Ich bin zu träge, den iranischen Kalender zu betrachten. Heute muss der Jahrestag der Revolution sein. [Ein Kommentator] hatte den Iran dazu beglückwünscht. Ich konnte nicht Danke im Namen des Irans sagen. So entschied ich mich, hier zu schreiben.

Im Iran feiern sie diesen Tag als den „Sieg“ der Revolution. Ich wage zu sagen, das ich nicht ein einziges menschliches Wesen in meiner vertrauteren Umgebung gekannt habe, und selbst jenseits meines näheren Bekanntenkreises, dem anlässlich dieses Gedenktages des „22 Bahman“ feierlich zumute ist („bahman“ ist der Name des zweiten Monats des Winters, wie Sie sich erinnern, ist unser Kalender perfekt nach der Sonne ausgerichtet).

Für viele Iraner ist der „Sieg der Revolution“ eine Niederlage. Entweder eines Lebensstils; oder eines Traumes.

Diejenigen, die für diese Revolution gekämpft hatten, waren die ersten, die getötet oder aus dem Iran verbannt wurden. Sie wurden entweder in den Gefängnissen der islamischen Republik getötet; oder auf den Feldern des Krieges. Der Rest ging ins eigene Exil. Diejenigen, die wohlhabend waren, schafften es, ein glückliches Leben im Westen aufzubauen. Diejenigen, die nicht begütert waren, diejenigen, die an ihrem Idealismus hingen, fuhren fort, in einer Luftblase zu leben, in einer nostalgischen Sehnsucht nach einer großen Demokratie, die eines Tages zu diesem Lan Iran, das wir alle lieben und worauf wir alle stolz sind, kommen würde, unabhängig davon, wie sehr wir seine monarchistischen oder mullahrchistischen Regierungen hassen.

Ich habe mich nie am 22 Bahman glücklich gefühlt; am Tag „des Sieges“. In der Schule versuchten sie uns zu indoktrinieren. Landesweit versuchten sie, diesen Tag zu einem grösseren Festival zu machen als unser Neujahrsfest (Frühlings-Tagundnachtgleiche). Sie schafften es nicht. Alle Jahrmärkte, alle freien Tage, alle Festivals am 22 Bahman können diesen Tag nicht zu einer echten „Volksfestfeier“ machen, weil es NICHT eine Feier der Leute ist. Es ist eine Feier der Regierung. Einer Regierung, die nicht aus den „wahren“ Revolutionären besteht, sondern aus den Pseudorevolutionären, den Opportunisten. Aus denjenigen, deren „Revolutionärsdasein“ in ihren schmutzigen, hart-primitiven Blicken erscheint. Aus diesen korrupten Hochstapler!

Publicola said...

»Vor 30 Jahren…

- Zweiter Teil / second part -

Wie kann ich da feiern?
Kurz nach diesem Sieg kam mein Vati in Tränen nach Hause. „Sie haben Leutnant X exekutiert! Er fastete doch noch! Er brach nicht sein Fasten! Wie können diese Menschen sich Moslems nennen? „… und dann weinte er.

Wie kann ich da feiern?
Kurz nach diesem „Sieg“ verbrachte ich Tage und Nächte wachend und hörte meiner Tante zu, die jedesmal, wenn man den Schall der Exekutionsgewehre hörte, aufschrie; nachdem sie sie tagelang an den Beinen ihres Ehemanns geklammert hing, um ihrer beider 18 Jahre alte Tochter vor dem „Revolutionsgericht“ zu retten?

Wie kann ich da feiern?
Meine Eltern wurden von ihrem Arbeitsplatz verjagt, um durch Schurken und Huren ersetzt zu werden, deren Qualifikationen außer der des LÜGENS auch die Fähigkeit mit einschloss, mit schmutzigen Bärten und schwarze Schleier tragend zu arbeiten. Mein Vati wurde bedroht, weil er aufstand gegen die Plünderer, die im Namen des Islams dabeiwaren, den Verwaltungspalast auszurauben. Meine Mamma wurde aus dem System „herausgereinigt“, weil sie sich weigerte, diese sogenannten Revolutionäre ernst zu nehmen.

Wie kann ich da feiern?
Mein Ehemann, dessen Leben auf dem Spiel stand, als er gegen den Schah kämpfte, zog sich von dieser „revolutionären Bewegung“ zurück, als er feststellen musste, daß die „Sieger“ diejenigen waren, die NICHTS MIT DER REVOLUTION ZU TUN hatten?

Wie kann ich da feiern?
Der Mann, der den Preis der Revolution einlöste (weil man im Westen entschied, dass eine Koalition mit dem Klerus vorteilhafter war als eine mit den Nationalisten), sollte in die vielen Fallen geraten, die die Neokonservativen vor seiner beschränkten historischen Vision aufstellten!

Wie kann ich da feiern?

Die Erinnerngen an die Revolution sind für mich dunkel!

Ich werde nie feiern, was 30 Jahren geschah. Aber ich werde die Tatsache feiern, dass das, was vor 30 Jahren geschah, genau das ist, was mich zu dem gemacht hat, was ich heute bin!
Ich feiere die Tatsache, daß die islamische Revolution mich dazu gebracht hat, die Religion anzuprangern!
Ich feiere die Tatsache, daß die islamische Revolution mich dazu gebracht hat, den Heucheleien des Islams (und eigentlich jeglicher Religion) ins Auge zu sehen!
Ich feiere die Tatsache, daß die Isolierungspolitik Amerikas den Iran stark gemacht hat!
Ich feiere die Tatsache, daß der Schah vertrieben wurde, so dass diejenigen Leute, die sich nicht so sehr um ihr westliches „Aussehen“ kümmerten, die großen Pläne verwirklichen konnten, die er für die große Zukunft dieses unseres Landes entworfen hatte!

Ich erinnere mich den an Tag des „Sieges“!

Mein Vati, mein tapferer süsser Vati, der Mann des Volkes, nahm mich mit zum „Anschauen“… Gummireifen brannten… einige Leute zogen die Statue des Schah von der Statue des Schah-Pferdes herunter! Etwas in meiner Erinnerung an diesen Tag macht meinen Magen krank, etwas an diesem Sieg war hässlich. Etwas an diesem Sieg machte keinen Sinn; obwohl ich in einem Haus aufgewachsen war, in dem man der Ansicht war, dass „der Shah in ein Grab zu legen war, das er für sich selbst gegraben hatte.“

Mit diesem siegreichen Tag erhielten ich, meine Familie und fast jeder, den ich kannte, einen WAHRHAFTIGEN GESCHMACK von dem, was eine „Diktatur“ war!

30 Jahre später; Ich stehe ein für mein Land! Jedoch spüre ich immer noch, dass vor 30 Jahren eine große Revolution entführt und gestohlen wurde … «


• website: “neo-resistance” by “naj” - Thursday, February 12, 2009

[translation provided by "Publicola"]

Anonymous said...

Together with Sorena , Ali Reza Firoozi was kidnapped too. He was also among those in the University of Zanjan who defended the young girl against the sexual harassment . Here is an interview with her mom :


Publicola said...


António S. Manso said...

Iranian woman, I owe you much.
For your tales of resilience.
I’m e-mailing from Portugal.
When younger, I chanted, shouted and fought tyranny in my country.
I’m proud of that.
Like you should be about what you are doing.
As so many of your beloved iranian heroes, simple citizens.
Women and man.
Children and older.
Please keep me in touch with your insights on your country.
“A caterpillar flying over an opened can of worms”.

Pensive Persian said...

"I believe in evolution; in growth; in small steps;"

Ever heard of punctuated equilibrium?

Not all evolutionary change, be it biological or political, is gradual and clean. Your gradualism sounds like the sort of "idealism" you supposedly oppose.

Naj said...

"Pensive" Persian,

in the version of science i practice, "punctuated equilibrium" is considered pathological. Evolution is a process of learning and plasticity, adaptation and optimization!

Shall i assume your punctually equilibErated "idealism" promotes splitting the human species (or political process) to "good" and "evil", a la bush style?

Naj said...


"death brings the only freedom"

stating the obvious; but as humans who have chosen to live in a "civilization", we need the freedom to be alive within the economic and intellectual boundaries guaranteed to us under constitution to which we have subscribed.

What is happening in Iran is the violation of an already restrictive constitution; by a minority of goons who have confiscated our national wealth, and to do so have relied on suffocating our intellectual assets--i..e putting them in jail or assassinating them for 30 years, one by one!

Naj said...

German; thanks for the translation :)

Antonio from Portugal, thanks!

BTL, the texan, thanks!

Publicola said...

Dear Naj,

I put the link to your [fantastic and unique] witness-of-history-account on 22 Bahman 2009, told from the perspective of a then young girl, on(to) several Englishspeaking and German blogs.

The reasons:

When reading your story
cold shivers ran down my spine.

Every inexperienced, idealistic, young(er) human being, thinking of revolution in ideal terms
ought to know,
what (any!) revolution really means - namely exactly what you wrote.

All the best


Pensive Persian said...

Thanks for demonstrating your presumptuous arrogance. I was hoping to actually have a conversation, but you've already "figured" me out.

Naj said...


I am sorry if you felt I was arrogant; I am afraid it is my disease to sound arrogant :(

I often compress what I want to say in little sentence only because I have little time, ESPECIALLY these days.

What I "did" presume, was a suggestion by you that in cases, such as our country's, we need an abrupt "mutation" out of our existing mode onto something else. And I strongly believe that kind of "jahesh" is not physically/physiologically/philosophically/socially/politically/... sustainable.

I may argue that you started by "blaming" my evolutionary idealism; and all I countered was that my version of growth was perhaps less idealistic than yours.

Idealism does not compromise; does not change direction of action. The chances of evolutionary growth, the Galapagos style (turtle-like) are higher, if you ask me.

Pensive Persian said...


Thanks for the clarification. Online communication can sadly distort one's intended meaning and tone. Sorry for any misunderstanding.

I'm frustrated with everything. Any talk of "compromising" with these barbarians sickens me. But I don't think that's what you mean by your gradual evolution. I'd like to have a better understanding of what you mean by it, especially in the current situation. You're an intelligent and passionate person and I really want to understand your thoughts better. Thanks. :)

(Honestly, I don't think I have any "fixed" thoughts on the situation myself - I swing between gradualism and punctuation - the latter, preferably on a basiji's head.)

Naj said...


I am very honored that you are touched by my account of 30 years ago.

Yes; revolution turned my world upside down ... and yes it made me work harder for reaching a life that I have now ... and yes it did give me a LOT of strength by forcing me to survive it "clean" ... I am proud of that achievement and I owe it to the strength of convictions my parents held: neither of them succumbed to fascism; neither of them changed color, and both of them lost all they had. None of them acted their dissidence out; none of them went to prison, none of them succumbed to trauma, and both of them raised several children entirely independent of the system that tried to indoctrinate them.

If you listen to the stories of those of us who have been through it all, you will detect a difference between us and those who have been living the revolution in exile--the pragmatism of our generation is missing from their analyses ... and most of these re-surgent revolutionaries fail to HEAR US that we do not want THEIR grudges; that we are willing to forgive without forgetting; that no matter how invested they have been in Iran for the past 3o years, they HAVE to let it go to the youth who is crowding the country today.

What Khamenei says, that the number of "protesters" is minor, is true! But that is only because people in Iran do not necessarily bring their protests out to the street! I don't expect 22 Bahman to be of the same glorious magnitude that 25 Khordad was; that Montazeri's funeral was ...

I expect to see a lot of paid marchers; soldiers; those on government payrolls; and perhaps many of those "melted in Velayat"is!

But from what I hear, people are busy planning vacations and getaways to stay out of this all ... simply, a lot of people like me cannot romanticize 22 Bahman, no matter how green it is painted!

Publicola said...

Dear Naj,

Thank you so much !

- and thanks to (all) the commentators/participants of this remarkably considerate exchange of opinions -

All the best


Naj said...


no hard feelings; I am unfortunately very brisk and hurt people and push them away!

Speaking of swinging between gradual and punctual; me too! I think we all do; I think it is an integral part of our culture. Don't you think?

No I don't think the fools who are at the helm deserve any chance; but I also think it is "they" who make it IMPOSSIBLE for themselves to "stay" ... they have to "gradually change" if they are to survive. Look at that dude Mashayee: he is already flirting with the reformist lingo; do;t you think?

Pensive Persian said...

The mood swings between "kill'em all" and "talk with'em" is rooted in anger and weariness, respectively.

In my opinion, the events of last summer firmly shut the door on any hope for reform within a system of government that places ultimate and unaccountable power in the hands of one man.

If we have to wait for AN and his ilk to change, then we're in trouble.

I feel that persistent talk about reform and gradual change is sort of like battered wife syndrome. The husband beats and assaults, the wife leaves, but always hobbles back, hoping that the husband will change, eventually, gradually, hopefully! At some point, the wife has to say - no more!

Sometimes you can reason a mugger into pointing his gun away from your head, sometimes you have to force him.

Revolution is scary. It's undesirable. But hope for piecemeal political reform is rooted less in acute political analysis than a fear of and aversion to civil war and revolutionary violence. It's a pipe dream.

Revolution is dangerous. But the status quo is equally undesirable. So, frankly, I'm at a loss.

What do you think?

Pensive Persian said...

By the way, I don't think they will "gradually" change because they know that it'll inevitably lead to their demise.