A Note From Tehran: “Sanction has a daily impact on average people’s lives”
A Note From Tehran —By: Egol
Source: Fellowship Of Reconcilliation
October 3, 2012
Years ago, following the September 11th devastation, foreign media reporters started to visit Iran. A friend of mine who was a translator for some of the reporters informed me that they were interested in interviewing Iranian youth on their visions of life in Iran and their desires for the future. I was young in those days, and so I was invited with a dozen other boys and girls my age to participate in that friendly gathering. It was an interesting and exciting experience for us, to talk about our culture, history, and the land we love. They asked many questions and we answered to the best of our ability. One of the questions that struck me most was: “If you had the privilege of choosing your place of birth, would you still want to be born in Iran?”
Interestingly, most of responses were negative. And, with a glance to the life of my generation, there was no room to criticize any of those participants for their responses. My answer, to the amusement of our interviewer, was opposite of most those participants. When it was my turn to respond, without a moment of doubt or hesitation I said, “Yes, I would choose to be born in Iran.” The reported stared at me with a half smile on his face and asked, “Why?” “Because of the experience I gained in my short life,” I responded. Then continued, “The life I’ve experienced has been unique with new lessons learned on a daily basis. In my short 30 years of life, I have experienced more than most people in my generation all around the world. Sometimes I feel an old and rich sole within me with all that I’ve experienced.
When I was 10 years old, I wanted to play and have fun like other children, but my generation witnessed 2,500 years of imperial Persian glory being torn apart by a Revolution. I didn’t have a choice but to be an observer of those radical events without having any role in them. We all were observers and did our best to adapt to conditions in order to survive.
My teen years were filled with war and violence. Unlike most teenagers in the world, we had to learn how to survive chemical attacks and mustard gas. Most nights before bed, I worried about bomb attacks and what to do if I were the only one left alive in my family. As young adults, my generation then had to deal with the destruction left behind from eight years of war. The evil of war swallowed our wealth and our precious and kind culture. I don’t criticize my people, there is no other expectation from war and violence. We were trying to process all the domestic difficulties and upheavals, and, to our amazement, the world labelled us terrorists!”
I stared at the reporter’s eyes and sighed “I feel I have lived centuries. Does an American or European 30 year old have such experiences like us?” The handsome and young interviewer smiled at me while packing his stuff and said, “You are smart and witty young woman.” That was the only response from him to my story and I never heard from him again. Sometime later, a well-known paper in Europe published the interviews, however there was no mention of the “witty and smart young woman” or her long speech! I am not sure why, maybe I didn’t say what the reporter wanted to hear, or what his readers were interested to know. I might never know the answer, today though, many Springs have past since that interview and I am not that “young woman” any more. I still live in Iran with my people. We have lived centuries in our daily life, with our desires, dreams and disappointments.
A couple of years ago, we finally asked the vital question, “where is my vote?” And we turned Green and were filled with hope. The response from our government was batons and prison. We paid a high price for our question and bravery; however, we were thrilled that the world heard our voice. We thought that now there would be a distinction between Iran as people, and Iran as its government. To our amazement, the world’s response to our cries was “crippling sanctions”.
As a result of those sanctions, Iranian people feel hopeless today. Maryam smiles and continues to dream of a bright future. Bijan is unemployed despite his proficiency. Samaneh cannot feed her kids. Ali lost his job. Neda is unemployed. Nahid is in the hospital after being mugged. Seema and Amir cannot rent an apartment. Pardis can’t pay for college so she withdrew. Sara doesn’t know how to pay for her mother’s medication. Payam cannot afford his MS monthly shots. Sahar struggles to find medicine for her daughter’s next chemotherapy session. Hey, World! Can you hear me? These are the people, not the government. They are not numbers of enriched uranium, they are human beings with dreams and lips to smile. You took their smiles away.
And then there are millions with shattered dream of being Green again. The thought of “bread” has filled our mind that there is no room for Green thinking, for demands for reform. “Where is my vote” is not coming to mind at all; today we ask where is my humanity, my pride, my smile. Today our minds are filled with questions like: should I kill myself? should I just risk everything and leave? Leave this beloved land, my home, my memories? But to where, to do what, how can I survive then, and what will happen to this land, my home?
Yes, we experienced revolution and war; however, sanction is something different. Sanction has a daily impact on average people’s lives. War and Revolution have their own audiences; but sanctions effect the weakest, the most damaged and dependent people in society.
Where is that reporter now? I want to talk to him. Where is everybody? Where are my friends? Some have already left, some are depressed, some have sought refuge in drugs. We are all faded, withered and languorous. Looking at mirrors, we are sear. Where is that reporter now? I have something to tell him. I want to suggest to him to complete his question: “If you had a choice would you like to be born in Iran — an oil rich country — again?