Dear Mr. President,
I sincerely hope that you have enjoyed a merry Christmas and a happy New Year. And while the year has gotten off to an unfortunate start for my fellow Iranians, I remain hopeful that this will be, at last, a year of peace and freedom for all the nations of the world.
So far, my freedom-loving peers and I have, in our struggle to be heard, skipped over statesmen and governments and appealed directly to the people. We have done everything in our power to convince the world’s ordinary citizens–people like us–to lend a hand in freeing our homeland from the reign of a small and corrupt, but armed, mob. Yet we have finally decided to make one exception: We have decided to write to you.
I write on behalf of my beloved friends–the ones abducted months ago who are still missing; the ones shackled in the theocratic regime’s torture cells; the girls raped and tortured on the nights before their executions by Islamic thugs; the ones buried in mass graves. Yet I write most of all on behalf of all of us who aspire to a free and democratic Iran.
Mr. President, we appreciate the generosity of your resolve in helping the Iranian nation heal one of its many wounds. We treasure this kindness, which we consider an example of America’s compassionate attitude toward the Iranian people.
Thank you very much, Mr. President; and thank you, all the American people! You have soothed and calmed the pain of this most recent suffering, and we drew strength as we saw that you were, once again, there to support us.
But amid all the scenes of misery, you may have missed something. You may not have noticed that the disaster in Bam was like a final shot in the skull of a moribund people, for whom life (as most in the West know it) ceased decades before the earthquake. Like millions of other Iranians, they never had the chance to experience that sacred trio of rights: to life, to liberty, and to the pursuit of happiness. Most knew nothing but misery, and liberty was the stuff of dreams. Now, thanks to the earthquake, they can no longer claim even life.
Mr. President, we may be able to rebuild the ancient citadel of Bam. But how can we ever hope to rebuild the devastated minds and spirits of those children who have lost their parents, or their siblings, to the darkness of bloodthirsty tyrants? How can we buy back the totally ruined lives of the Iranian teenage girls sold to neighboring countries? Please understand our anguish, and our frustration: Iranian lives matter little to some of your European counterparts, and even to some of your opponents in America.
Sir, please remind Secretary Powell that even the thought of negotiating with the mullahs is absolutely futile. Khatami and Khamenei are both against the Iranian people. And consider another example of political corruption that might be useful to your administration–look at what happened in Bam. President Rafsanjani had constructed a gigantic complex there called Arg-e-Jadid-e-Bam, meaning “The Modern Citadel of Bam,” for the workers and foreign staff of one of his many factories in Iran. Of course, the “Modern Citadel” was not destroyed in the earthquake; not one person was injured there. It’s too bad Mr. Rafsanjani couldn’t be bothered to ensure such modern, rigorous building codes for the rest of Bam: Tens of thousands of died; one out of every two people in the city was killed in the quake.
As if that wasn’t treachery enough, the mullahs showed their true vicious colors when it came to the earthquake-relief money, according to some Iranian sources. Fully aware of the horrible conditions in Bam, the mullahs still didn’t hesitate to seize hefty portions of the international humanitarian aid, only to use it as campaign funding for the upcoming elections for the Islamic parliament. Mr. President, how can Secretary Powell even speak of negotiations with people this evil?
Lastly, Mr. President, please do not forget that what you and your allied forces have begun in Iraq and Afghanistan can only bear fruit if the Iranian problem is solved. We can do it: Trust us, not the mullahs. Invest in the real Iran, not the Islamic occupying regime. Allow us to make this plague the last to afflict the Iranians; allow us to make 2004 the year of Iran’s liberation.
And please allow us write to you again–next time, about our free and peaceful homeland.
–Koorosh Afshar is a pseudonym for a university student in Tehran.