The other day I read an article by a long-time friend and fellow activist, Heshmat Tabarzadi. I was struck by the powerful words, the courage that
did not mince words, but cut directly to the point. Tabarzadi still lives in Iran, and it is for him and for the thousands of others fighting for freedom for Iran, that we must come out on 16 Azar.
I met Heshmat more than a decade ago. We were both growing our student organizations, and we forged an alliance called the United Student Front. In those days we didn’t agree on every point, but the one area we absolutely agreed upon was that the Islamic Republic of Iran had to change. Over the years we have remained friends.
The overall gist of the article was a message from Tabarzadi directly to the Islamic Republic of Iran. This, following the third time in six days of having his family threatened by the regime’s hired assassins who think nothing of abducting, torturing, and murdering innocent citizens of Iran. Last week one of them stopped Tabarzadi’s daughter as she was on her way to school. He told her that he had heard she was a good student, asking her to get in the car and promising to help her with her studies. Tabarzadi’s daughter was able to avoid him, returning home, understandably upset.
The rage Tabarzadi felt at the fate his daughter could have come to at the hands of one of the Islamic Republic’s thugs inspired a piece of writing that, if you read Farsi, you shouldn’t miss. For those who don’t read the language of Persia, I will tell you that there was great honor in the words of my friend. In each section Tabarzadi addresses different members of our country: The Forces of the Vali Faghih (Supreme Leader), Khamanei, the killers and rapists who prey upon young Iranians, the good people of Iran, and to the Reformists.
One of the threats Tabarzadi received via a letter from Evin Prison said that prison officials didn’t need a legal ruling to arrest him and put him back in jail. To this Tabarzadi said, “For activists, jail is the same as water to a fish.” I was struck by this, as it is exactly my own experience. Prison, when you are fighting for a cause, is bittersweet. You are there for your belief, and as painful as it is, whatever your fate, you are there for your cause.
When he goes on to address Khamanei, Tabarzadi says, “my wife and children, my honor, and all that I have, I give to my country and to my people.”
Tabarzadi ends the article announcing to the good people of Iran, the children of Cyrus, that on 16 Azar at 5:00 p.m. he will be at Tehran University with thousands of young people. He encourages others to join the protest, and he assures anyone reading the article that as long as he has blood running through his veins, he will continue to fight for freedom for his people.
To my friend, Heshmat Tabarzadi, I wish you safe passage in all that you do.
On 16 Azar I will stand with other Iranians and supporters of freedom, and together we will remember, not only the three students in 1953 who lost their lives, be we will remember all those innocent lives since who have suffered, and most specifically those who have been beaten, tortured, raped, and killed by the repressive regime of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
From across the world we will remember you and all those who stand for freedom for Iran. May we one day in the not so distant future be free from the shackles of dictatorship.
Long live freedom and democracy.
16 Azar Demonstrations
Sunday, December 6, 2009
3:00 to 6:00 p.m. Local Time
Bancroft & Telegraph
Monday, December 7, 2009
6:00 to 9:00 p.m. Local Time
Opposite the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran