We Hardly Knew You

I wonder if he felt his hands were tied


We Hardly Knew You
by Reza Mohajerinejad

What is there left to say about Alireza Pahlavi? The pundits have weighed in, and opinions have been flying from Iranian ex-patriots to American journalists and heads of state from all over the world. The sad news that the man who was once the youngest prince of the Pahlavi family, took his own life on January 4, 2011, touched those of us outside of our homeland deeply. We could not help but react with sadness.

Sadness is nothing new to Iranians. When we see our youths being jailed for their beliefs, lawyers being tortured for the clients they accept, and far too many hunger strikes by prisoners who have no other voice outside the walls of places like Evin, Rajai Shahr, and 59 Sepa, how can we not feel sadness?

Then we hear about the Shah’s youngest son’s suicide. To understand the reaction many of us had to Alireza’s death, you need only look as far back as our history over the last century. I am not a monarchist. I am also not religious. I was still a child when the Shah of Iran packed his bags and left, replaced by the Islamic regime that has been in power since the revolution in 1979. Had I been an adult at that time, I believe I would have been in support of opposition to the throne, but only in so much as to support secular democracy in my country.

The Pahlavi family represents a past that is bittersweet at best. For those of us who have spent our lives battling the oppression of the Islamic Republic of Iran the last three decades, a certain nostalgia for the monarchy might be tempting. However, as hard as we might try, we cannot change history.

What is perhaps unique and without a doubt necessary in understanding Iranian people, is that for us, our culture runs deep. Alireza Pahlavi lived the biggest part of his 44 years of adult life outside of Iran, yet what I’ve read about him is that he was deeply rooted in its history and culture and disturbed by its current political climate. This isn’t uncommon for Iranian people. For those of us who left our homeland, our ancient Persian past runs deep, and we tend to live half our consciousness wherever our escape took us, and the other half in Tehran, Mashad, Shiraz, Esfahan, Tabriz, Sanandaj, Zahedan, Rasht, Abadan, or wherever else we may have grown up, in our beloved Iran.

When we think of Alireza Pahlavi, we remember him as the youngest son of Mohammed Reza Pahlavi. There are photos all over the Internet of Alireza as a child in Iran, later as an awkward teen in the U.S., and more recently looking, as his American neighbor referred to him in one article I read, “dapper.” What the world really knows about him is very little. We know that he was well-educated. He completed his undergraduate work at Princeton and he went on to Columbia where he studied ancient Iranian studies and earned a Masters degree. At the time he died he was working on his PhD at Harvard. We know that he mourned the suicide of his younger sister, Leila, who took her own live in 2001. We also know that he lived in Boston, that he appeared to be physically fit and from the outside seemed to have every reason to live.

As a people, Iranian ex-patriots don’t necessarily mourn Alireza Pahlavi, the man. How could we? We barely knew him. The closest comparison I can think of would be the way Americans felt when John F. Kennedy, Jr., fell from the skies in a plane crash in 1999. Americans remember the “John John” of 1963, just over three years old, saluting his father’s casket. Yet even this isn’t the right comparison because there was far more to know about John F. Kennedy, Jr., as he grew into manhood, even if it was cut short too soon.

But similarly, maybe we prefer to remember Alireza Pahlavi, the child, standing next to his parents and sisters and brother. How could that boy have come to the end that he did. Was it a sense of helplessness? Did he look at the current situation in Iran, at the executions of political prisoners and the human rights violations that are eating away at the citizens of our country and feel, as many of us do, that he could never do enough? Was he lonely? Did he feel inadequate? Perhaps he succumbed to the enormous pressure of being a Pahlavi. He was born a prince—a fate one might not necessarily choose.

In the end, we’ll never know what prompted Alireza to end his life. For me, I look at how much work there is left for us to do if we are to free our country from the clutches of the Islamic government that abuses its power and rapes and pillages our country. From where I sit, I can only hope to do some good for those still inside the country. That is why I go out in protest. It is why I read news sources about political prisoners in Iran every day. It is why I write. Yet, I can’t help thinking that Alireza might have done something more than all this with his name, his family connection, his history. I wonder if he ever thought of what he might have done. I wonder if he felt his hands were tied. I’m sorry that he didn’t live to tell us.

Reza Mohajerinejad is one of the student activists and organizers of the 1999 Student Movement in Iran known as 18 Tir. His book, Live Generation, is available on Amazon.com.


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beautiful piece

by asadabad on


Jenab Deev (and Co)

by Shemirani on

Aya vaghti  mardom az  shenidan aroosie Philip o Letizia of spain khoshal mishand ya az marg Lady Di narahat  yaani ke  Hamashoon BOT PARAST TASHIF DARAND ? chetor be khodetoon ejaze midid rajebe iraniha  hamchin ghezavati konid ? Double standard shomae ke TABIHI NIST !! WE ARE FREE TO LAUGH OR CRY OR VOTE TO LOVE TO LIVEEEEE  !!!! Why its bothering you so much !! when will you understand that you can not labelise other people just because you don't understand their choice


hamin moonde bekhahim az hame ejaze begirim baraye ehsasat dashtan Its crazy vaghean !!

G. Rahmanian

ادم بيسواد كوره!

G. Rahmanian

But what can you do about a bunch of illiterate mullah lovers who under different guises try to derail every blog or article. This, most certainly, has a lot to do with the dehumanizing effects of IR policies on certain individuals. "Az koozeh hamaan taraavad keh dar oost!" Is it that they don't know when to stop? They do know, but this group's guise is, "Yeki beh na'al o yeki beh meekh!"


wonder why the falsely

by merlin on

wonder why the falsely named iranian public affairs group actually serves in opposition of iranians? this may help.


as pirouz has stated these groups that are iranian in name only serve the financiers, Rosenbergs in this case.


مرد که مرد - میخواست خودش رو نکشه


دوست گرامی باعث گلایه من از خانواده پهلوی حلوا حلوا کردن بیش از حد عده ای از ایرانیان بت پرست در این سایت بوده که تا دیروز یادشون نبود لیلا و علیرضا زنده اند یا مرده - شما اگر سه هفته گذشته را مرور کنید خواهید دید که چگونه تعداد مقاله های علیرضا دو برابره حادثه ایران ایر که ۷۷ کشته بر جای داشت بوده است - آیا خون یک افسرده بی بنیه از ۷۷ نفر رنگینتر است که انقدر لی لی به لالاش بگذاریم چون باباش شاه بود؟ پس مرد که مرد - میخواست خودش رو نکشه


Some people

by Princess on

... have absolutely NO CLUE about this debilitating affliction, yet they allow themselves to "ezhaare nazar".

I hope you never get to feel what depression is like, but I wish for you to learn some facts about what this monster is. 



Work has nothing to do with depression

by vildemose on

Falling off the cliff of depression -- I tried to kill myself last week (Updated with Thanks) 


Please educate yourself and don't speak when clueless.


دیو جوابت اینجاست


Mash Ghasem

اگر خود را با کار سرگرم کنی

Mash Ghasem

زمانی برای افسردگی نخواهی یافت


گلایه یک ایرانی از خاندان پهلوی


Full article: //deev.blogspot.com/2011/01/blog-post_19.html
از پیری اندرزی شنیدم که گفت اگر خود را با کار سرگرم کنی
زمانی برای افسردگی نخواهی یافت و این نکته را در زندگی لیلا و علیرضا پهلوی میتوان دید که گرچه از رفاه بسیار فراتری از دیگر هممیهنانشان برخوردار بودند هنوز افسردگی بر آنان چیره گشت و افسوس چون این دو شاهزاده میتوانستند الگویی در نیکورزی باشند ولی نه تنها گامی در راه نیک برنداشتند بلکه سرانجام با خودکشی الگوی یاس و شکست و سرخوردگی گشتند


Depression 101

by vildemose on



by pas-e-pardeh on

Very well put.

I believe Alireza did think about what he "might have done", or what he could do.  He did that forever. But he couldn't come up with an answer.

If he did act, aside from appearing in competition with his brother, he would be severly scrutinized.  He didn't wish for that. He was a private person, and loved his deep, scholarly relationship with Iran.  Maybe also he he was aware how Iranian public can be very fickle, and cruel to those who stand up to serve.  They were certainly cruel to his father and grandfather.   

If he didn't act, something he chose to do for that past 20-something years,  then he would get tired of waiting for others to act. How long can you keep a lion in a cage?  He realized he had waited too long, and bowed out.  He saw the hand he had been dealt and, honorably, folded. 

But in his own quiet way, when he made his statement, it was loud.  I'd like to think he shouted he were tired of all of us, that he couldn't believe what was happening in Iran in his lifetime, and that he expected more from us as a community. 

Certainly that's the message I went away with. 


well written

by seannewyork on

but i do see a lot of nostalgia for the pahlavis in the youth who see the past as better times.


Reza Jan Dorood

by Fair on

bar shoma.  Thank you for your wonderful writing straight from the heart, and your service to our country.  We will be free one day, no matter how frustrating it feels at the moment. 

As I have said before and was censored by this site, history of Iran has always remembered the great Hafez long after it forgot the tyrant Shah Shoja.  It is good that outlasts tyranny over time, and you and your fellow students and freedom fighters will outlast all the tyrants currently raping in our country in the minds of Iranians for generations to come.

Dorood bar shoma, payandeh Iran.