On September 22nd, 1980 when Saddam’s air force bombed all major airports in Iran, including Mehrabad International Airport, I went to the roof of our home in southern Tehran and watched the black smokes rising to the sky, with shock and despair. I never forget the sad and helpless feeling of that moment; my beloved country where I was born and raised was under attack! Suddenly, I remembered all the invasions that Iran (or Persia) had suffered throughout the history and I had learned about in school; the destructions, devastations and bloodshed that would follow.
I was a teenager at the time and was (and still am) so proud of my country’s rich history and culture. So, I felt like I had to do something, and that I did. The following days, I signed up to join the army and during the next two and a half years I spent fighting off Saddam’s forces in front line trenches in south and western parts of Iran, along with tens of thousands of young volunteers and regular army who courageously and selflessly defended the mother land and prevented Saddam’s forces from further advancing inland and in fact kicked them all the way back to behind international borders, despite all the support Saddam enjoyed at the time from the west. Sadly of course, in the process, countless number of these young Iranians, including some of my close comrades were killed or maimed or captured.
Every Iranian village or town which was liberated from occupation, had been leveled to ground by the dark forces of aggression. I could not help but feel endlessly sad witnessing the devastation, as if they were my own home and neighborhood. I remember when we arrived in Khoramshahr after its liberation (BTW, before liberation the city was called Khooneenshahr, literally meaning Blood-soaked City, as so many had lost their lives defending it), there was only ONE building still standing! One! EVERY other building in this previously beautiful port city on the Persian Gulf had been burnt and destroyed to dust, apparently with direct order from Saddam! As if the dark forces intended to send us a message of their cruelty and hatred towards our land and people.
Today, I feel lucky to be still alive and tell these stories. That was my fate, but ironically, these days, I feel the same as I did on that Summer morning 27 years ago. I now live in California and don’t intend to join the army any time soon(!), however, I can fight against possible military invasion of my country of birth once more, this time using my pen, instead of a gun! The point is, if I oppose any kind of military attack against Iran, it’s not just a rhetoric or an intellectual gesture, it’s because I have experienced and lived through one, with blood and flesh and still have nightmares about it every now and then.
Now, 27 years later, we hear the drumbeats of war….again! One has to have lived in outer space in the past few years, not to hear those drums and not to know that Iran is being threatened on a daily basis, and there is a growing danger of another mischief by the dark forces, and this time, by their masters, themselves! Likes of Rumsfeld who provided the material and training of chemical weapons to Saddam so he could use it against our people (and incidentally, many of whom are still suffering a gradual painful death), are now planning and threatening to take action directly against Iran, rather than through their puppets such as Saddam. And as usual, the corporate media in the U.S. are in the process of numbing the American people with their venoms into accepting yet another devastating war, and laughingly enough with the same exact excuses: WMD! What did it stand for again? Weapons of Mass Deceptions??!!
If you feel angry, disappointed and helpless about this situation, you must know you are not alone. But, the only good news is, there are in fact many things we can do about it, peacefully, legally and safely! They range from participating in peaceful anti-war demonstrations and writing to the editorials of the local or national newspapers to writing to or meeting with your congressperson and senators demanding them for actions against a war with Iran. Although, individual actions are useful and effective and highly recommended, in my view, the most effective of all are the organized actions. If you have read or heard about the effectiveness and influence of AIPAC on the U.S. politics you must know what I am talking about! The conclusion: We, the Iranian-American community, must have our own AIPAC!
The good news is we do! As some readers may already know, NIAC (National Iranian American Council (www.niacouncil.org) is a grass root organization founded by several extremely hardworking, honest and knowledgeable Iranians, dedicated to encouraging Iranian-Americans to participate more actively in the local and national U.S. politics in matters related to their community and beyond.
The members regularly meet with key congresspersons and senators and try to educate them about Iran and Iranian Americans and their contributions to American society, in hope of persuading them to take more rational positions when it comes to Iran and Iranians. Recently, NIAC’s extensive lobbying helped water down an anti-Iran resolution passed by the Congress. What matter is more important at the moment for our community than a threat of war against our country of birth, where most of us have friends, families and loved ones and a lot of us visit regularly?!
In order to continue its positive efforts whose results affect all of us, NIAC needs more help and support from our community. There is an estimated one million Iranians-Americans living in the U.S. and I can proudly claim that many of them are extremely successful and wealthy. If all or most of us unite on crucial issues such as this and support NIAC, the impact will be tremendous. There is no reason why NIAC can not be as effective and powerful as AIPAC. Imagine if every Iranian chip in $5 and one hour of their time a month, that’s five million dollars and one million hours a month! That will go a very long way in educating the American public, media and the politicians about Iranians’ contributions to the world. It’s a Public Relation War that we have to win first in order to prevent a real war!
Now, I want you to set aside your political views about Iran for a moment and think about the safety and security of your loved ones still living in there. If you don’t happen to have any loved ones living in Iran, think about your kindergarten and elementary school classmates, your teachers, your neighbors and their families. Take some action to prevent another war, regardless of what you think of the current regime or president in Iran.
Do it as long as you are against any military aggression against your country of birth, country of Hafez, Saadi, Ferdowsi and Khayyam. Country of Kiarostami, Makhmalbaf, Shajarian, Ali Daei, Simin Daneshvar, Ahmad Shamloo and many others. Do it if you admire Isfahan with all its beautiful domes and architectures, Yazd with its Fire Temples and Shiraz with its magnificent gardens. Do it if you still remember driving to Shomal via Chaloos road, or you cherish Kish Island and the warm waters of Persian Gulf. Do it for the sake of more than five thousand years of documented history, civilization, art and culture. Do it for the sake of humanity. Do it now, because tomorrow might be too late!
Start today! Go to NIAC website (www.niacouncil.org) and join them and support them in any way you can.
Let’s all hope for a peaceful, prosperous and democratic Iran, built by Iranians themselves and not through the barrel of aggressor’s gun!