Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Dispatch from a province far from Tehran | 16 June 2009

Two Iranian soldiers kiss before they go to battle (Iran-Iraq war).

I feel compelled to immediately post this "dispatch from the field".

I was born in 1984, amid a devastating war that had laid waste and destruction to my country. I was born between two subsequent nights of bombing raids. I was born into rationing, despair and hardship. I was born when young lives perished at the fronts. My father later told me that when I was born 1984 sounded so much like the 1984 predicted by Orwell. But my birth had turned over the glum outlook for my parents and 1984 had become a sign of hope, a hope for a future to come, or as my father put it, “a better future for my child to live.”

My parents were not alone in this. During the baby boom of 1983 to 1986, millions of us came into this world, mouths to feed and miracles to be cherished. There and then a new generation was born, a generation who would bear witness to the legacy of generations of their parents, a legacy that was mainly composed of one thing, “the Islamic Republic.”

In later years, in our schools, on TV, in books and newspapers they told us that before our time lived a tyrant who held a firm grip on our country, and that the defiant and valiant nation of Iran had risen up and overthrown him to establish three things, “Esteghlal, Azadi, Jomhouri Eslami.”



Islamic Republic.

We were fascinated by the epic tales of young students, some as young as thirteen who during the war had sacrificed themselves for the greater good of the society. We were made to believe that we were living in Utopia, but the delusion only lasted a few years. Before long, that once naïve and innocent generation of 1984 had grown to be the young men and women of Iran, the so called third generation of the revolution.

Faced with harsh realities of life we quickly came to realize that our world was far from the Utopia painted for us. It was more like a Dystopia where we had to fight for every single right, every single freedom.You have denied us so much.

Out of this dark age one day emerged a man with qualities of a hero who would lead this generation out of this Dystopia and into that promised paradise. His name was Mohammad Khatami. Yet it turned out that he was neither the hero everyone expected him to be, nor did he have the capacity or desire to lead them out. To be fair things started crawling toward progress and modernization; there was a smaller degree of social rights and freedom, but it did not come at the pace that this restless third generation wanted.

Thus a hero fell, and four years of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad started.

By the end of the four years, we were desperate for change. Hope materialized in the shape of Mir Hossein Mousavi, who happened to be the prime minister that now long gone 1984. But the totalitarians ruling the Dystopia swooped in and crushed that last bit of hope.

In Brecht’s “Life of Galileo,” Galileo’s students condemn him at the end of the court proceedings with these words: “Pity the nation that doesn’t have a hero.”

“Pity the nation that needs a hero,” he responds wisely.

My generation is tired of being disillusioned. We refuse to accept the status quo and we have risen up in defiance. I am not sure how long it will take for the totalitarians to crush our resistance. For now though, we’re holding up just fine. We’re holding up fine even though our brothers at Basij and the police are murdering their dear fellow Iranians. We’re holding up even though you bash us with clubs and batons and try to suffocate us with your tear gas.

A nation stands tall refusing to succumb that easily.

Yesterday among the crowds who were just back from the warzone with their wounds and anger and sadness, I spotted an old friend of mine.

“Welcome to 1984, my friend,” he said in great anguish.

I nodded in agreement; we’d come full circle.

He went on, “There we were facing the bloodthirsty riot police, hand in hand, like that ‘Brothers in Arms’ song from Dire Straits.”

It was in that moment that I realized why the French Revolutionaries added “Fraternity” to their revolutionary slogan.

Liberté, égalité, fraternité,” indeed.

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