Sehaty Foreign Exchange


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June 28, 2001

* Ultimate sacrifice

I don't know what to say! Reading "Gasping for air" and "Nothing but a name" blew my mind. Old memories buried deep in my brain under millions of neurons and neurological path links filled with C, C++, MFC, MSDEV, real time, DSP, HARVARD and Intel architecture -- all these gibberish -- just gushed up to the surface of the melting pot of my mind. It felt just like heartburn. One of those heartburns that brings tears to your eyes after a greasy, spicy Mexican meal. But the tears in my eyes were not tears of spice, nor pain, nor joy, but realization! Realizing how much I had grown in a short, very short, period of my life.

I too joined the army in 1983 during Iran-Iraq war.... Shahram, a friend of mine, was from Khoramshahr. He had blond hair and blue eyes and we always used to make fun of him that: "How did your mother manage to get you blond hair and blue eyes?" and other nasty jokes like that. He would always shyly smile and ignore us. We were stationed south of Sanandaj among some of the most beautiful, glorious mountains I have ever seen. The last six months of our service was specially harsh and we were constantly under attack by Iraqi Kurds, and Mojahedin-e Khalgh. May their soul rot in hell!

The last thing I can remember from Shahram, three months before our discharge, was the morning when the Toyota medic truck swirled like a maniac into our base and stopped in the middle of the barracks. That morning I was supposed to go on leave. A barrack-mate and I ran to the truck where a medic was working on something. There he was. In a pool of blood with hands blown away. A hand grenade had exploded in his hands by mistake. His body was punctured by hundreds of little bullets. The medic was preparing to give him a CPR and as soon as he pressed his hands on Shahram's chest, a shower of blood shot up from all those holes in his body. He made a sound, I don't know what it was, but it sounded like a sigh and that was it.

The only thing that could tell me it was him was his blue eyes in an undistinguished black and red face. I never forget Shahram, his last request from me, which I am so glad I did for him, was to draw a logo of Super Tramp in the shape of a space ship.

How can I forget Shahram? How can I forget Bagheri, whose first name I can not remember in spite of the fact that I used to write his TA'MIN schedule twice a week? He was shot in the head when we were attacked by Mojahedin one month before our discharge? The only thing I saw was his helmet with a hole in it and dark dried blood and pieces of some stuff inside the helmet.

How can I forget the gut wrenching cries of Bagheri's father who was clinching the blanket his son used to cover himself the night before his death? The army was generous enough to let him keep it! >>> FULL TEXT

Habib Farahani

* I don't think so

Whilst I am aware of the strand of thinking outlined in Mr Amini's article ["Slowly but surely"] which is shared by many Iranians these days and respect it, I strongly disagree with many of his points in defence of Mr Khatami and his so called reforms in Iran.

First of all, do we believe that it is possible to have a democarcy in a country where there is VELAYATE FAGHIH which can and does over-rule everyone else in the government including the President on the grounds that it knows best. If the answer is yes, then you are not a democrat. If the answer is no, has Mr Khatami ever questioned Velayate Faghih? No. He has repeatedly supported it.

Secondly, has Mr Khatami personally ever spoken in support of the hundreds of students and writers that are rotting in our jails because they believed in his new more open society and paid the price for it ? No, I don't think so.

Thirdly, it seems that the Islamic Republic has got the Iranian physche worked out. Take every civil, social and political liberty away from them, then give them back a bit at a time and they will be grateful !! It is a sad testament of our time that 22 after the revolution, one of the reasons given for voting for Khatami is that men and women can walk side by side without being called criminals. Wow. What advancement.

But what has Mr Khatami done for the unemployed and the poor or for Irans' place in the International community ? What does he intend to do with the Sharia law that allows public stonings of men and women in Iran ? What has he done about the 10% of the population who are now drug addicts ( their own figures ) in Iran ? How is he coping with the rise in prostitution amongst the women of our country ? How does he intend to cope with the lack of university places for the youth of Iran ( 1.5 million applicants, only 85,000 vacancies - again their own figures ). Not to mention corruption in every level of society.

I believe in a truly democratic Iran and a secular one where religion has no place in government. I believe in freedom of speech for all parties and religions with all beliefs. I do not believe in so called free elections when the candidates are all vetted by a committee of clerics and they all believe in the Islamic Republic and Velayate Faghih. I do not believe in Valayate Faghih. I believe that men and women should be truly equal. I do not believe in public hangings and stonings. I believe Iran should be at the heart of the International community, not sending millions of dollars to terrorist groups when most of our own people are living below the poverty line.

If and when Mr Khatami really starts to address any of these issues, then we can call him a reformist. Merely smiling nicely, speaking softly and NOT being Khomeini is not enough.


* This time it will be different

I enjoyed Mr Amini's article very much ["Slowly but surely"]. I share his opinion on many of the issues raised about Iranian society. In my humble opinion, one of the causes of the revolution was lack of education in our society. Now over two decades after the revolution we have to fight long and hard to earn the basic fnadamentals of a free society (i.e, freedom of the press, freedom of expression, etc as we know it in the west).

Having then worked hard to earn it, perhaps we will appreciate it better and will deserve these achievements, unlike during the Shah's period when we did indeed have it all, but did not know it and therefore had no appreciation of it, and as a consequence lost it.

I agree with you that what we need certainly not a revolution, but evoultion. When you look at Western societies, so many of them have walked the same path as Iraninans are now, in a different way, not with s much emphasis on religoin. They have matured through progress and gradual change and what we see today is the product of decades if not centuries of civilization.

I can not say the same about our society. The 1970's was a watershed in Iranian history. Within a deace the country was transformed so much. People's expectations reached dizzying heights and greed got the better of them. This time it will be different. We have to walk the path to freedom and change very slowly, because we need a lot of time for education en route.

Essi Saber

* Islamic Republic's last chance

Mr Khatami as the president of a brutal and repressive and inhumane regime ["Slowly but surely"] is not capable of giving the people of Iran what they have been craving for for over 50 years. People of Iran revolted in 1978 - 79 with cries of "Esteghlaal, Azaadi, Jomhori Islaami". It seems that we ended up with only one of those.

Khatami is not another Nelson Mandela or Mahatma Gandhi. He is a by product of the Islamic regime who believes that the clergy have the god given right to rule. He has been a member of government over the years whilst the most appalling crimes have been committed against the people of Iran.

Thanks to him, the pressure cooker of discontended and betrayed youth has not yet exploded. He is the Islamic Republic's last chance. I have more respect for the likes of Khamenei as at least with him what you see is what you get. With Khatami that certainly is not the case.

United Kingdom

* All talk

I voted for Mr Khatami at the last election and was very proud to do so at the time. However, it soon became apparent to me that he was all talk and no action -- making the youth and the intellectuals and writers of the country rise to the bait, then sitting aside whilst they were murdered, clubbed on the head in the streets and slung in jail and tortured.

According to their own figures, the turn out at the recent elections in Iran was 67%, down some 15% or so since 4 years ago. If this does not mean that more and more people are coming to the same conclusin as me that Khatami is merely window dressing to prolong the life of this regime and is not the answer to the huge problems of our country, then what does it mean ?

Is Mr Amini really that surprised that the glimpse of hope to which he refers which existed 4 years ago in the Iranian expatriate community disappeared ?

Oxford, England

* Let people choose

We have been told, time after time, that if they (read those who oppose the whole Islamic Republic) sit down with "common Iranian people who are not as 'sophisticated' as they are, and listen to their day-to-day experience of living in Iran and the changes that our society has gone through, then maybe they will learn something." ["Slowly but surely"]

I wonder which "Iranian people" they are referring to. Those fifteen million who did not participate in the last election? Those who come to conclusion that Mr. Khatami is not that "seyede shafaabakhsh"? Those Mr. Khatami calls t "disappointed of reform"? Or those who had no choice but to participate despite their wishes?

During these four years the Valayte Faghih's authority has been challenged not by Mr. Khatami and shorakaa but by the people. Mr. Khatami and shorakaa have always imposed on us that there is only two ways to change: "My way" or "Undemocratic revolution with blood all over it". "Bloody Revolution" is bad? Does that include your revolution, which is the bloodiest revolution ever, that killed millions of innocent people and murdered thousands of political prisoners with the "Imam's" order? Since when? >>> FULL TEXT

Javad Chavoshi
Washington College of Law

* Takes timmmmmmme

I read in the "Slowly but surely": "They showed what they could do even when not in power. God knows what they would do once in power." It teminded me of my university days in mid 70's in Tehran. One day I saw posters on the wall saying "Dear brothers/sisters, don't go to classes because the Shah is torturing students ..."

Later I found out that one student was beaten up with metal pipes & was hospitalised for going to a class that day. So I thought to myself: Hmmm, these guys (daaneshjooyaane shojaa va shariffeh Iran) will beat up people (their own "brothers/sisters") to death now, when they are NOT in-power. What would they do when they took over?

I heard the student who got beaten up was just a student & not related to any political group. I said this to many I knew who went to alloha-akbar-baazi & tazaahoraat, but they were too full of Hayyajaan to think.

One evening, I was at a difficult lecture. The ostaad was tired having taught many classes all day. One revolutionary student started laughing at a joke from the guy in front of him & he was disturbing the class. The ostaad stopped & said something polite (don't remember what) to the student. The student got up & told OFF the ostaad in a very rude & threatening manner: "Toe be maa chikaar daari, darseto bedeh!" I melted down into shame.

I'm afraid I don't share Mehdi Amini's hope/confidence in "democracy" in Iran. It will not happen in my lifetime. Hateful/cruel/Vahshi/triger-happy people can't have democracy. They must change first (which will take timmmmmmmmme & pain).


* Don't lecture us

Ms Khalili, ["Different worlds"]

Okay we are all impressed by your knowlege of lower/middle/upper-middle and upper-upper class women. If you have a personal grudge against Phalavis or Frarah Diba in particular, again one can sympathise with you.

But for goodness' sake don't lecture us on the disadvantags of being rich under the guise of suppporting the plight of poor working class women. Haven't you ever met a rich working class woman? Aren't you living in the US of A? Aren't you there, by definition, because it is the land of opportunity? Only an Iranian immigrant can enjoy all the manifestations of capitalism while living in New York and yet have the impudence of lecturing others on how differently (bad) it is to be rich.

I wonder what she would say to all those working class Iranian women, inside and outside Iran, who cried for Princess Leila or turned up at her funeral. Perhaps she would advise them to claim their teras back! The point is that Ms Khalili has no clue about the plight of working class refugees because she is not one of them.

By her own admission she is what is commonly described as an economic immigrant. Those who have no problem with returning to Iran but would prefer the cosy and rosy comfort of the West: a cushy academic post with an above-avereage-salary and the prestige that goes with it and the endless opportunity to lock yourself in your office and theorizing about the world.

If there is anyone who is out of touch with the hardship and agonies of the working class mothers and fathers, it is the person described above.


* Real prices and princesses

Reading through texts written recently about Leila Pahlavi's death one wonders how there are two opposite views on her tragic lonely death. I came accross two interesting articles, one written by Setareh Sabeti ["Diana not"] who in her very intuitive analysis describes how a young girl, having been depressed for many years, and for different combined reasons decides to end her life in a lonely expensive hotel leaving her family in a shock and making other families think twice about the reality of depression which has become an everyday illness for many youngsters who are disillusioned. a reality for a prince or a pauper. Ms. Sabeti describes to us the roots of this problem.

Leila's death is surely the most devastating event for her mother. No mother should go through such an experience in her lifetime. But as Sabety noted, comparing Leila to Diana is a mistake. Diana used her fame for noble causes and she believed in what she did until her untimely death. The Pahlavis have never done so, neither when they were in power nor in the last twenty years.

Yet, the death of a young woman, in any form or shape is a sad event which is mournful especially for friends and family. However, it is a mistake to make this a political issue or use it as a political statement.

I also came accross a very poignant description of Leila Pahlavi's funeral procession by Mr. Cyrus Kadivar ["Crown of lilies"]. However, his description points out to the seperation of the so-called Persian royalty and their very close associates and the real people. Mr. Kadivar writes of the ex-royalites who attended the funeral. The ex-Greek king and the ex this and that or the ones who abandoned their Manhattan apartments or their yachts o attend this event.

One wonders whether we are living a reality or are we still in a mythical world. Even in a funeral we are so engulfed by the world of deposed royals. The princess, the prince, Reza II, her highness and his highness are mostly the titles used by Mr. Kadivar in his article. He is still very much enchanted by such titles.

I would only emphasize that the time for this ludicruous titles ended in 1979 whether we like it or not. The past shall remain in the past. The present and the future is what concerns us.

Mr. Kadivar,

The true princes and princesses are in Evin prison today. We must stop living a life of nostalgia. As for Leila Pahlavi, she died too soon, too early but everyone, let her rest in peace.

Fariba Amini

* People, not labels

In response to Mr. Saffari-Fard ["Nausiating"] and others in this thread, I would like to say that I agree that those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our homeland shall always be remembered and missed dearly. But what does that have to do with Leila Pahlavi's death? Should she have fought? She was only 10 years old. Reza was willing and able to fly missions for his country *if allowed*. Of course like many other patriotic and accomplished pilots, he was not allowed by the "Islamic" government.

As far as I am concerned, Leila was an Iranian, and like many young Iranians, tragically died much too soon ["Crown of lilies"]. I find it sad that the death of this person has been used and abused so much for scoring political points. Well, I believe I am not alone when I say that not one point has been scored with me using this method.

Why can't we just accept that no matter what, we are Iranian, and that we have all suffered in our own way in direct relation to the suffering of our homeland? If anything, Leila's tragic end should be a reconfirmation to us all that whether we are rich or poor, royalty or not, communist or monarchist, inside Iran or outside Iran, Muslim or Buddhist, - we are *Iranian*, and if our country suffers, we suffer *each in our own way*. Please let us neither belittle nor blow up Leila's death, and let her rest in peace.

Regarding the Iranians who died and suffered in (and continue to suffer from) the war, I don't know if Mr. Kadivar has anything to say, but I certainly have this to say- they fought and bled for their country, not a political party or a symbol or an acronym or a throne or a turban or.... Every Iranian alive owes their respect and gratitude, and I pray for, remember, and miss our fallen sons and daughters every day.

But you can be sure of one thing- if at that time we had a leader in power like Leila's father (who was also dedicated to his country), none and I mean *none* of those people would have needed to sacrifice themselves. If there is *one* head of state that you cannot blame or lay guilt on for this war and the suffering it has brought on our people, it is Mr. Pahlavi. Every other political entity in power at the time, including the "government" of Iran itself, had something to gain from (and did so) by having this war.

Maybe it is time that we started looking at each other as people, not labels. Maybe if we accepted each other as fellow Iranians, regardless of our differences, maybe then, our heros' sacrifices will have been just that much more meaningful. What better way to honor their sacrifice. In the hope of that day.


An Iranian

* Only fools and horses

Unlike some of your readers and contributors, I believe Cyrus Kadivar's piece ["Crown of lilies"] is very good and informative with respect to the subject matter it is treating. All Iranians want to know about the ex-royals who robbed their country off all its material wealth and made it skinned and the fact that many have read it and are writing letters about it proves that no matter how we feel about the death of Leila but we want to know everything about it and the Royals simply because they were part of our recent history, a part of us all. Who does not want to know the history of his/her own country?

However in the middle of this beautifully written piece (crown of lilies) the writer poses a very important question for all of us to consider/contemplate about: did she {Leila} really die of broken heart and homesickness? Of course not! Posing of this question by Mr Kadivar indicates that he too like the rest of us does not believe it and is not prepared to buy the nonsense put out by Farah and her first son, Reza about Leila and the cause of her unhappiness.

Have no doubt: only fools and horses would/will believe the nonsense put out by Reza II about his sister's suicide, no one else. Probably he too knows it too well that no one would take him seriously when he speaks publically about the cause of Leila's untimely death or suicide; simply because a young and beautiful princess like Leila must not have any cause to lead her to committing suicide; not even Princess Margarett of the House of Winsor ever contemplated suicide even though she was pushed/left out of the warm and loving bossom of her mother as soon as her sister Elizabeth was declared heir to the throne of England. So why should Leila who had every thing she could wish for decide to turn it {the goodness of being a very rich royal} down and opt out for a life in the hereafter? >>> FULL TEXT

Rana Bahar

* Couldn't go to sleep

Dear Mohsen Makhmalbaf,

Last night I read your essay on Afghanistan ["Limbs of no body"] and couldn't go to sleep afterwards. The language you have employed to describe the situation is so vivid and the truth so biting that the combination makes the piece almost a cinematic experience. I've recommended it to all my friends and relatives; my advice has been to print it so it's easier on the eye, but boy last night I had such a dilemma with my own ignorance.

From the destruction of the Buddha statues to the opium trade, poverty, fundamentalism, this piece offers an explanation for everything. I don't necessarily agree with all of the political conclusions, yet I can't help admiring the scope and effort that has gone into it. It's nothing short of a crash course on Afghan history, economics, politics and culture infused with humane sentiments befitting a great artist such as yourself. I thank you for bringing Afghanistan so much closer to my heart.

Having read it, I think we Iranians have a moral obligation to help any and every Afghan we come across. Who else but Iranians should come to the rescue of a neighbor who has lost 40% of it's population in less than a quarter of a century?


Massud Alemi

* TV actor

I sincerely thank you very much for publishing my photo and mentioning my role on "LAW & ORDER SVU" . I do hope you had the opportunity to watch the program because, your point of view would be greatly appreciated.

If you did not get a chance to watch it, this show and another one called "THE HUNTRESS" in which I have a guest staring role, will air this Sunday night (July first), at 10PM and 11PM on USA NETWORK.

Best Regards,

Marshall Manesh

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