Friday, December 21, 2012

An Open Letter to President Obama

Dec 19 -2012
Dear President Obama,
Re: Would you also shed a tear for Iranian children with cancer?
Applauding your humane reaction to the recent school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, we wonder if you would also shed a tear for the plight of Iranian people caught between the devil and the deep blue sea, as a result of the sanctions imposed on them by the international community led by the American government.
In particular, heart-wrenching reports of ordinary Iranians dying due to a widespread shortage of pharmaceutical drugs call for immediate cessation of hostilities toward the Iranian people, caused by the sanctions. Eyewitness reports in the black market for the drugs and the tearful eyes of families of cancer patients scrambling desperately in this market should concern you as much as the Newtown incident did. Although the former happened beyond your control, the pain and suffering of Iran’s cancer patients are a direct consequence of your government’s policies. Whereas there is barely any evidence suggesting sanctions achieve their political goals, they are causing death and devastation to the Iranian cancer patients as you are reading this letter.
A recent report, for example, from a charitable hospital for cancer patients in Tehran, Mahak (, indicate a shortage of the following pharmaceutical items:
Amp.BC NU Amp.Melphalan Tab.Mitotane Cap.Procarbazine Amp.Topotecan 4mg-1mg Tab.Lanvis-6Thioguanine
We believe you are a man of conscience, and under your leadership the world has a unique opportunity to leave politics behind and attend to the humanitarian tragedy unfolding in the Iranian populace as a consequence of the sanctions. Will you take this historic opportunity to put people first and ahead of politics? You are well familiar with the following poem by Sa’adi Shirazi:
Human beings are members of a whole, In creation of one essence and soul. If one member is afflicted with pain, Other members uneasy will remain.
If you have no sympathy for human pain, The name of human you cannot retain.
Will you consider living up to it?
The following children died senselessly in the Newtown tragedy:
Charlotte Bacon, Daniel Barden, Olivia Engel, Josephine Gay, Dylan Hockley, Madeleine Hsu, Catherine Hubbard, Chase Kowalski, Jesse Lewis, Ana Marquez-Greene, James Mattioli, Grace McDonnell, Emilie Parker, Jack Pinto, Noah Pozner, Caroline Previdi, Jessica Rekos, Avielle Richman, Benjamin Wheeler, Allison Wyatt.
You have a once-in-a-lifetime chance to demonstrate your true dedication to fundamental human dignity. These children’s souls are watching.
Will you let the suffering of Iranian children with cancer continue or will you choose to put an end to this tragedy by lifting the sanctions on Iranian people?
With hope,
Yours very truly,
Canadian and Iranian Coalition for Peace

Saturday, December 8, 2012

The Student Movement in Iran

Six decades ago, on such  days in 1953, a few months after the CIA engineered coup d'etat which toppled the nationalist government of Dr. Mohammad Mosadegh and re-installed Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the heroic resistance of young students made history. Richard Nixon, who was then the American Vice President  traveled to Iran to consolidate the shaken relationship and give the impression that everything in Iran is under control. Iranian students who were furious following the severe crackdown  of the coup d'etat and the return of dictatorship, protested against this visit. Nixon's visit was an indication of the continued interference and control of the American government in Iranian affairs.
In Tehran University, students from the engineering college  stood up and protested against this event. Fearing a generalized uprising, the monarchy ordered a severe crackdown and gave security guards and police orders to fire on the students. As a result, three students were killed in the College of Engineering campus and many more were injured.
My late father Professor Taghi Ebtekar, a junior student at that time, was present as was the martyr  Dr. Mostapha Chamran who was also an engineering student in those times.  I have heard their eye witness accounts of the event. From that day onward the 16th of Azar has been commemorated as the Day of Students in Iran.  Students have voiced their protests and concerns on this day during the past decades.

University students have played a serious role in all phases of contemporary Iranian history. Their perseverance and resistance against oppression, dictatorship and foreign intervention has had deep implications for the Iranian society. This progressive approach gave the student movement  a major role in the development of the Islamic Revolution in 1978, during the takeover of the American embassy in 1979 and during the 8 year war against Saddam Hussein. A small part of the non Islamic students had kept their criticism of the Revolution during those years.
During the new reconstruction era, the majority of the student movement in Iran voiced their criticisms as they felt that political and social freedoms were gradually limited. Pressures on the movement augmented and reached their climax once in 1999 and again in 2009. After the disputed presidential elections in 2009, pressures have augmented and the situation has deteriorated.
After 3 years, I  finally agreed to  take part in a debate arranged by the National / State Television. I spoke about the concerns of the student movement, the pressures and limitations on their activity and freedoms.
My comments have been welcomed by many people who believe that the Islamic Republic was established to uphold basic freedoms and respond to the concerns and expectations of the people.