The Iranian


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Sehaty Foreign Exchange


December 18, 2000

Have we become spinelss?

"... haghighat dar zendaan enferaadi voojood nadaarad."

This is Akbar Ganji writing about the serial murders suspects held in solitary confinment. Did he know that he himself would be in solitary confinement when he wrote this? Is anybody reading his book ["His red-robed highness"]? How come no one ever comments? Are people scared to engage in political discourse? Have we lost all our political spine?

Where are you people who boast in long letters of Iranian Heritage? What are we to do with torture and facism going on right under our noses? Are we really so spineless a people that we just sit by without the least bit of outrage even in the form of a traceless e-letter on the subject of the virtual, actual, as I write, silencing of the few freedom seeking intellectuals left in Iran?

If Khatami fails, if Gangi is killed or forever silenced, if the young students in jail are never seen or heard again, shame on us all - shame on us all. We can all tell our children that there came a time 20 years after the first revolution when there was hope for real democracy in the old country and we all let it slip by. We can say: "Even though it was the beginning of the 3rd millenium when information was easy to get and easy to disseminate, when Iranians were at their most numerous and successfull abroad, when there was a large portion of the population that was young and full of hope when there was even the largest election that took place in our history - even then nothing changed because those who had the guns scared the rest of us. Becuase those of us living in freedom were too busy with our lives in our new homes to bother about the rest of us. Nothing happened because our youth rebeled but no one helped them this time. Nothing happened because we had lost ideology and principal to the dollar. Every one was busy making a buck-that is what Iranians abroad and at home had in common we were too busy making a buck. Either that or smoking opium."

We do not need religion to opiate us. we have the real thing. Loads of it in Iran and in any Iranian community abroad. No we can proudly tell our children that we Iranians did nothing to bring about democratic change to our counry because it was too much work, too unpleasant and yes needed too much spine. We sat by as freedom lovers were imprisoned and killed and did nothing. It was easier to believe that someone else would do it for us. Yes we had a chance and let it slip by.

S Mashadi


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