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Mar 20, 2023

BY Shahrokh Ahkami

I wish everyone a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year. This year again was filled with the suffering of people. They suffered from poverty, hunger and displacement. This suffering occurred in Iran and throughout the world. I hope that this new year will bring us all more joy and prosperity. I hope this new year will bring more freedom, hope and better news. This change for better news may be beginning in Iran for its people. We saw and still see the uprising by Iranian citizens, who have suffered at the hands of this brutal and oppressive regime for over 43 years for the freedom they deserve. And despite the dangers that confront them they know that this is their path to freedom and hope for their future.

In the past few decades there have been small uprisings that resulted in NO significant change. This time and for the last 4 months we see ongoing opposition that has not been seen before. It continues to be spotlighted on the world news. As we know the outrage and the uproar of the people was ignited by the killing of an innocent young woman, one filled with hope for her bright future. But her hope ended in Tehran while on a family vacation with her parents. She was excited to go to see her country’s capital and share her experiences with her friends and family when she returned home. Her vacation turned into a nightmare for her parents, family and friends. She lost her life after being beaten because of her not completely complying to an ancient law (the enforcement of mandatory Hijab).

Her name was Mahsa, which means the face of beauty. Her death ignited an uprising in Iran and around the world and there seems to be no end in sight. The movement sparked a slogan Zan, Zendegi, Azadi (Woman, Life, Freedom). This has been shouted from the mouths of the young people of Iran demonstrating in every city and town in Iran. The oppressed people of the Azaris, Loris, Kurds, Baluchis, Farsis, Suni or Shii, scream the slogan at the top of their lungs: Woman, Life, Freedom! This movement, to date, has seen the death of over 500 people, mostly women and children. They have died from bullets, knives, beatings and now executions. It has also been reported that while in custody they are forced to take medication that causes their death once released from captivity.

These demonstrations and protests are not confined to Iran. They are being held in major cities and towns of the world. Iranian Diaspora have organized protests, demonstrations and rallies in support of the people. This uprising awakened everyone. It is a force never seen before. This time the slogan is being heard from all corners of the world and has had a positive effect. These demonstrations and pressures by the international community has forced the Iranian regime to be removed from every international human rights committee and their actions have been condemned by all human rights agencies. This regime, that has for over 43 years trampled on the rights of women has lost its standing.

The weakness of this regime became clearer when rather than hearing the demands of the people and working with them, they instead placed more pressure on their citizens. They used their oppressive nature and came down harder on the innocent people of Iran through executions, innocent killings of unarmed people with their guns and other questionable deaths. They thought these harsh techniques would shut down the uprising and suffocate the people. BUT THEY WERE WRONG. The people got angrier and more rebellious. The slogan of Woman, Life, Freedom has become a worldwide slogan and continues to make headlines all over the world.

The lyrics of the song “For You” was translated into many languages and is being sung by many artists around the world. The lyrics to the song know no color, race or gender; it is for all humanity. The unfair labeling of the Iranian people as “terrorists” has been removed. The world now empathizes with them and calls them their brothers and sisters. Finally, we can acknowledge our Iranian heritage with pride. Iranian people are no longer seen as brutal hostage takers but as people with values, hopes and dreams who cry for the freedoms that most of the world enjoys.

This brings me back to my younger years spent in France. I remember General Charles de Gaulle, the French President who helped France be freed from Hitler and his regime. General de Gaulle was a beloved leader in France.

One of his co-workers, who actually did not support General de Gaulle’s views said that the man had so much dignity and his demeanor was so powerful that no one could resist but to adore him. He won a second seventh term as president. Following the election General de Gaulle took a trip to Yugoslavia (at the time). When he returned young people took to the streets protesting against his policies. On his return from Yugoslavia, he told the French people that there will be a referendum vote to see if the French people supported him and his policies. They voted against. Despite his win at the recent elections, he left his leadership in their hands. The reason he continues to be so admired today was because of this integrity, leadership and the respect he had for the choice of the people and not his own power.

Today’s leadership in Iran is corrupt and undeserving of their positions. They do not pay attention to the will and needs of their people. They, instead, put in individuals who have no skills in leadership and are illiterate and inhumane. The current president does not even have 6 years of schooling. He became a judge at the age of 20. He has ordered the death of many over the years. Likewise, his ministers mirror his credentials. They graduated from unaccredited schools such Imam Sadegh University. The Pasdaran (members of the Revolutionary Guard) of this regime have been given false status and put in power, such as the Ghalibaf as the head of Parliament and Zakani, Mayor of Teheran. The head Vice President of Iran’s Economic Affairs Mohsen Rezai still does not speak the truth about the 8-year war. He is responsible for the death of 1 million innocent Iranians and the destruction of Iran during the war. Now he is responsible for the economic structure in Iran. He does not have the capacity to make such decisions and therefore has brought Iran’s economy to the ground.

The corruption and the exodus of over 10 billion dollars a year by this corrupt regime has resulted in hunger and poverty for millions of Iranians. This thievery is in the hands of the Mullahs, their friends and family members as reported by the media. They are never prosecuted for their crimes, while the hungry people of Iran who steal to survive are severely prosecuted. These individuals are looking to feed their families and children and not fill their pockets for personal wealth and gain. Some are being captured and executed for selling drugs that their own government brings into the country.

Today the climate of the state is as never seen before. The regime is struggling to survive and has taken measures so harsh to protect them from extinction. BUT the struggle for freedom and this new movement by the people IS NOT struggling to survive. IT CONTINUES to grow in strength! The strength comes from their need for regime change, liberty freedom and justice for MAHSA AMINI.

Because of this regime Iran has been isolated from the international community. Its economy is on a downward spiral because of the corruption, poor economic policies and sanctions, all which have an adverse effect on the people of Iran and NOT the leaders. The west has placed pressure on Iran to comply with western demands. However, if these demands are not met or Iran refuses to comply the world may be in a very tenuous position and Iran can be headed for the country being divided. The West has not learned its lessons from involving itself in the business of other countries in the region, i.e. such Yaman, Palestine, Iraq, Syria, Libya etc. and now Iran. Iranians are at the forefront of a revolution. It is their fight, their revolution, their responsibility and hopefully will be their victory owing nothing to others.

The West cannot and should not set up another puppet government or design Iran’s future. The voices of the young rebellious Iranians who have come together has stunned the regime and the West. While we do not know how this movement will end, it on its own is an extraordinary phenomenon. It is a movement that remains strong even without named leaders. Sadly, there will be many sacrifices made and lives lost over the duration of the movement, BUT this time the voices for freedom have wakened a volcano and the only way to stop the destructive lava is for them to regain freedom. The people of Iran will no longer stay silent. They seek revenge for all the lives and limbs lost, like Mahsa Amin. The memorial services for these precious lost lives continue and so do the protests.

More than 43 years ago, our generation took to the streets to have a revolution to fight for freedom, justice and independence and to create harmony in the region and the rest of the world. They were caught off guard by the Mullahs shut down their voices and misleading the public with false statements. They made empty promises and wrote a constitution that was never implemented. They brought Iran into a state of theocracy; Ghom setting the standard for the rest of the country. In the name of martyrdom they created a climate that it has become today.

A revolution that started up with the hope of freedom turned dark very fast and continued on this path. The corruption and the shutdown of factories and the loss of jobs was what this brutal regime chose. The loss of life and wealth in the 8 year war followed by entering into the proxy wars in Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq that had nothing to do with Iran and its people. If the present financial support currently provided by Iran to these countries is cut off, they will be the first to turn on Iran. We must remember that if it wasn’t for all this mismanagement and corruption and the crippling sanctions the West has placed on Iran, Iran would look very differently.

Let’s hope that this movement is successful for the brave men and women who are making sacrifices for themselves and the future of Iran. I continue to hope for, as we all should, an Iran that is united and free. I continue to hope for, as we all should, harmony, peace, and equality for a free Iran. I continue to hope for, as we all should, the time when we see Iran return to glory and be respected.

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