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Spare a thought for us -- first
Ebadi's wasted opportunity?

By Ardavan Bahrami
December 15, 2003
The Iranian

A few days ago I received an email from a friend whom I have never met in person but have been chatting and exchanging views with on Iranian current affairs.  The email contained a note from an Iranian gentleman/lady who had commented on Shirin Ebadi's Nobel Peace prize speech.

The note was most refreshing and above all extremely courageous.  Consequently, my journalistic conscience told me that such a fresh viewpoint should not be ignored. As I do not know this person nor does my friend, I have taken the liberty to use the note and expand it further, hoping many others could enjoy the comments.

To make it easier I shall call this person Hope!  Hope's note starts by saying,

"Shirin Ebadi's Nobel Peace Prize acceptance ceremony was a huge opportunity missed for all the Iranians who have suffered human rights abuses in the last 24 years of the Islamic dictatorship in Iran. The reason for this is non-other than what seems to be a genetic disease seen in a large number of older generation Iranians who forget the plight of their own people but prefer to take up the cause of others."

This is most distressing.  In the past years and particularly in recent events I have witnessed many Iranians who by large are indifferent and not involved in political issues have suddenly shown concerns on US war against terrorism by taking actions against the American administration's policies or even have had the audacity of joining groups or demonstrations in support of Palestinians!

Hope continues,

"1400 years ago a dispute broke up between two Arabs over a girl by the name of Orayneb. One Arab was the ruling Khalif and the other was the grandson of the Arab prophet. The two sides met each other in Karbala and in the usual Arab custom, killed as many of each other as they could, including the women and the children. Now most of the Arab world has forgotten the incident but many Iranians still mourn the event by beating themselves and cutting their foreheads open with daggers. Yet there is no such ceremony for any of our own heroes throughout 2500 years of history, which has produced many heroic figures. We have no national days to honour them; we have no ceremonies to commemorate them or to teach posterity about the values of putting Iran first and foremost. To give an analogy to a non-Iranian it is as if the Jewish people forgot the victims of holocaust and their own heroes and instead mourned the death of 72 German generals and soldiers at some insignificant battle. Laughable wouldn't you say?"

At this point in time when our students have been most courageous in their fight for democracy and secularism, one would have hoped that an internationally recognized lady such as Shirin Ebadi would have taken this unique opportunity and when the world media is focused on her speech to express her concerns for the lack of freedom, mass executions and the daily abuses of human right in our own country rather than broadcasting Islamic Republic's foreign policies regarding America's war against terror and Palestinians!  Hope's views on Ebadi's decision to forget her very own people whom she owes her Nobel Peace prize to; is extremely disheartening.

"And so it was in the same tradition that Shirin Ebadi, forgot about the plight of our own people, the massacre of political prisoners in September 1988, the virgin girls who were raped before facing Islamic execution squads to prevent them from entering heaven, the imprisoned students and activists, the forgotten war veterans who gave all they had to defend the motherland, the poverty of Iran's street children, the youth who have been publicly flogged, and instead what did she talk about? The Palestinians, and those incarcerated in Guantanamo bay!

As if there aren't enough people already who are signed up to their cause.

The older generation who got us in this mess with their extra strong revolutionary zeal are once again keeping us trapped in this Islamic dictatorship by putting our own people and our own future at the end of the queue.

Perhaps one day they will learn that charity begins at home. Let's free our own people first then worry about the terror suspects incarcerated at Guantanamo. Or as Iranians continuously chant in the street demos 'Let Palestine be, spare a thought for us first'."

Here I would like to address Mrs. Ebadi and tell her that as a Nobel laureate your duty is towards your own nation, which is going through the darkest period in her long history.  The Islamic regime has enough resources to waste on fighting for Palestinian causes, building schools and hospitals for the fanatics in Lebanon or Bosnia, or for that matter protecting every undemocratic ideology.  Today you can be the loudspeaker for all those Iranian women and men, young girls and boys who have lost their lives in Islamic prisons or are still suffering daily tortures.

It is an honour to have an Iranian as the winner of such respected prize, but if you today decide for whatever reason to side with this regime reformist or conservative, your will have no respect in future Iran among your very own compatriots.  Please do not waste the opportunity!

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