Saturday, June 27, 2009

Tribute to a people and a man

Warning, contains graphic scenes....

Monday, June 22, 2009

About a girl

So the world is reeling from footage it saw yesterday plastered on youtube, facebook, news sites etc about a young girl named Neda getting shot in Iran. She was standing with her music teacher, watching the protest and for reasons we will never know was targeted by a single bullet that pierced her heart. She collapses as people around her try to aid her. In less than two minutes, blood pours from her mouth and nose covering her face, except for one eye, that stares lifeless as her young life is extinguished. I was drawn to that eye, hugged by her perfectly groomed eyebrow. I wondered to myself, was she thinking anything? Did she know she was about to die? Did she love someone? Was she thinking of him? The crowd was screaming "don't be afraid, don't be afraid" and you can hear her teacher's cries. Was she afraid?

Many may watch the events happening in Iran and find themselves unable to relate. But let me tell you something. The geography may be different but youth is youth everywhere. In the past few weeks facebook had opened up in Iran after having been blocked. I saw many I knew in Iran rapidly joining and getting in on the craze. I got quiz requests. I got gifts of hugs and kisses. I got pictures from Iran's new years celebration. I read about the bands they liked, the food ( sushi!!) they love, their favorite sports team, or the latest movie seen on bootleg video or on banned satellites. And I saw the jubilation they shared online regarding the upcoming elections, how they turned their avatars green and how they encouraged everyone to "rock the vote". Does this sound familiar? No, they are not that different from you and me. But the geography is different. And that makes all the difference.

Because of where they live, they share what they should be able to share openly and in the public, on the pages of a virtual society. Because the one they live in won't let them live.

Neda has become a martyr in that cause, that is all about being free to live your dreams. Being free to be who you are. Being free to choose your destiny. Neda was not given a choice about dying . A bullet decided that. But Neda made a choice about living, that fateful day when she left her house to join the protesters. She chose freedom.

Rest in peace Neda

I leave you with this song, one that I have been listening to in the past days, when I can cry no more for the youth of Iran that are so bravely fighting for their rights, knowing each day that they may not be returning home that night. It is a hopeful song. About the ending of the winter of our discontent.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Be Free...

To say that the protests happening now in Iran are over an election would be simplifying the matter. It may have been the trigger point, but there has been increasing resentment towards a regime that has taken away what most of use consider basic human rights and now that resentment has exploded forth in the unrest you see in the streets of Tehran.

Iran is the birthplace of Cyrus the Great, who's charter of Human rights sit on display at the UN. This is the country that gave the world Hafez and Rumi, that spoke so eloquently of love and humanity. And here is Iran today a far cry from the nation once led by Cyrus. It is now country that human rights, basic rights no longer exist. It is country where you cannot read, you cannot write, you cannot say, you cannot love what and who you want. It's a country of youth, the majority of Persian are now below the age of 30, that can only dream of what it would be like to enjoy freedoms that you and I consider matter of fact.

You can squeeze a person just so much, at some point they will scream, at some point it will not matter anymore that there are bullets showering on them. What is death when you are the living dead .

And basic freedoms is just one side of this story. Iranians should be enjoying booming economic times. Just look at all the gulf countries around Iran and how they have thrived these past few years with the increases in the price of oil. Instead Iran has had a president that was more concerned about establishing himself as a threat in the eyes of the world. Maybe it's his short stature that makes him crave power so, but because of his obstinate insistence on taking a stand against Israel and US, his countrymen have had to suffer sanctions that have left the country with a overwhelming 25% inflation, crippling them. People are suffocating, emotionally, mentally and financially.

And the biggest crime in my eyes is how the world has seen Iranians in the past 30 years since the revolution. We have become radicals, backward people, zealots. Our rich colourful history has been forgotten and instead the world sees us in the eyes of those that assume to speak for us.

The uprising that you see is really about claiming what is rightfully ours. Our dignity, our freedom, our respect and our right to the pursuit of happiness.

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Saturday, June 13, 2009

Where is my vote?

Well as much as I wanted to stay away from the politics of Iran I got sucked in bad today after reading about the massive fraud that occurred. I got sucked in because of my sister. You see she is 26, idealist, hopeful and young and believes that the world can one day be a better place. She asked me on Thursday if I was going to vote in the Iran elections. I doubt my answer will win me friends in the Iranian community, but then again I never really cared what people thought of me, specially the persians. I told her I was not voting. Because Iran is not my home. It is my birth country yes. But the day I left that country I knew I was leaving it never to return again. I was leaving for a new world and with it I was giving up my rights to have a say in what transpired in Iran. The law may say I have the right to vote. Okay I actually don't have any documents I could have used to vote, but that's another story. But my point is on principle I don't believe you should get to decided the fate of people living in another coountry. No matter that you share the same birthplace.

I know my sister felt somewhat let down by my response. She wanted to believe that change could happen. That I believed in that change and wanted to be a part of it. Don't get me wrong. I want good things for the people of Iran. I know what these people have gone through. I was there... But like I said my interest in Iran is more as an outsider. I want people of all nations to have the kind of freedom that I enjoy in Canada and the US. It's human right issue afterall. And my interest in the fate of Iranians is no different than my interest in the fate of people of Darfur, or the people of Iraq or anywhere else in the world where tyrants rule...

So when I read the news this morning, I felt I needed to do something. To show my little sister that I cared. So I set up a group on facebook and proceeded to collect all the news, pictures and videos from around the internet and post it there. It's a very small step, but it was the least I could do.

One of the links I posted was a slideshow on youtube that used the persian version of the protest song El Pueblo Unido Jamas Sera Vencido as musical score.

It is a protest song that rose to popularity in Chile in 1970's by the leftist marxist supporters of President Allende. Over time is has been used by many nations including Iran as an anthem to call people to rise up. I heard it first 30+ years ago when another revolution was taking place in the streets of Tehran. When idealist students marched the streets and sang this song, with the goal of overthrowing the monarchy and bringing freedom and a republic to its people. Little did they know that the republic would turn out to THIS republic.

Nonetheless the song is about hope. About overcoming. About rising up and taking a stand against tyranny. It was also part of a sound track to a movie about Allende that I saw as a child and that I will never forget. I wept for Allende, even thoogh I did not know who he was, or that he was a leftist marxist or what that even meant. All I knew was he was fighting for his people, to give them a better life and the brutal General Pinochet destroyed that hope and dream. And to this day whenever I hear this song I cry. Beacuse I think of all the youth that have lost their lives fighting for freedom and marching to this song.

Here is the translation of the song and regardless of your political views, you have to agree that it IS a beautiful song. It is a hopeful song...

Peace and love and may the people of Iran know real freedom one day
Join me on Facebook:

The people united will never be defeated,
The people united will never be defeated...

Arise, sing
We are going to win.

Flags of unity
are now advancing.
And you will come
marching together with me,
and so you'll see
your song and your flag blossom.
The light
of a red dawn
already announc
the life to come.

Arise, fight

the people are going to win.
The life to come

will be better.
To conquer
our happiness.
and a clamor
of a thousand fighting voices will rise,
a song of freedom.
With determination
the fatherland will win.

And now the peo
who are rising in struggle
with a giant voice
crying out: Forward!

The people united will never be defeated,
The people united will never be defeated...

The fatherland is
forging unity,
from north to south
they're mobilizing.
From the salt mines
burning and mineral
to the southern forests.
united in struggle and labor
they go
covering the fatherla
Their steps already
Announce the future.

Arise, sing
the people are going to win
millions now
are imposing the truth
Their steel battali
are on fire,
taking in their hands

justice and reason.
with fire and courage
is already here
Along side the worker.

El pueblo unido jamás será vencido,
el pueblo unido jamás será vencido...

De pie, cantar
que vamos a triunfar.
Avanzan ya
banderas de unidad.
Y tú vendrás
marchando junto a mí
y así verás
tu canto y tu bandera florecer,
la luz
de un rojo amanecer
anuncia ya
la vida que vendrá.

De pie, luchar
el pueblo va a triunfar.
Será mejor
la vida que vendrá
a conquistar
nuestra felicidad
y en un clamor
mil voces de combate se alzarán
canción de libertad
con decisión
la patria vencerá.

Y ahora el pueblo
que se alza en la lucha
con voz de gigante
gritando: ¡adelante!

El pueblo unido jamás será vencido,
el pueblo unido jamás será vencido...

La patria está
forjando la unidad
de norte a sur
se movilizará
desde el salar
ardiente y mineral
al bosque austral
unidos en la lucha y el trabajo
la patria cubrirán,
su paso ya
anuncia el porvenir.

De pie, cantar
el pueblo va a triunfar
millones ya,
imponen la verdad,
de acero son
ardiente batallón
sus manos van
llevando la justicia y la razón
con fuego y con valor
ya estás aquí
junto al trabajador.

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Sunday, June 7, 2009

Liberate me

Saying fuck off can be quite liberating. I don't mean in the "someone cuts you off in traffic and you flip the bird" kind of way. I mean more like standing up for yourself. Saying I've had as much as I can take and I won't be putting up with this anymore so fuck off, thank you very much.

Maybe you are stuck in a dead end job, you are not having fun anymore, but the job pays the bills and you put up with the boss from hell. You're being nagged at home that you would not be making enough money if you changed your job and so you are stuck. Then one day, you go to the boss and say thanks but no thanks, my sanity is more important. And you tell the spouse, take it of leave it, or maybe you should get a better job. Fuck off people. It's me time

Or maybe you're in a relationship with someone that doesn't get you and you are sick and tired of having to explain over and over what the hell is wrong. This one is tricky because I really don't have a good answer for why people stay in relationship that are not good for them. Maybe they think the other person will miraculously change. Maybe they are afraid of being alone. But at some point, you'll find your back bone and you will be saying fuck off. I'm off to better things. I deserve better.

Or perhaps it family members that think they can tell you how you should live your life. Always offering "advice" that really is a thinly veil criticism of who you are. Like you can't figure it without them. Or that you are too naive to be capable of making clear and solid decisions. And you being the sweet person you are, smile through gritted teeth and listen to the character assassination they do on a regular basis. One day they will be hearing fuck off as well. Because life is too short to be living a life that is not yours.

Or maybe it's a "friend" that keeps on not so subtly pointing out that you are chunky, because you know they are the epitome of health all stick like. Every time you see them they make you feel bad for finishing all the food on your plate or really enjoying a meal. Fuck off. I love my body and I love my food and if that bothers you go find another stick friend.

Speaking of friends , we all have our share of folks we lump in that category that are really not friends to us. Who knows why we connected in the first place but you realize you have nothing in common with them. Maybe they are mean or bigoted. Maybe they are self-centered and selfish. Either way, you are probably friends because you are being too nice to end things. My advice? Say fuck off to them too. You need people that surround you with love and positive vibes and you don't need "friends" that bring you down.

Think of it this way. We do spring cleaning to get rid of the clutter in our home, perhaps we should do a spring cleaning of sort with our lives. Examine the relationships we have with those around us. Look at the stuff that is grating on our nerves and then bade each a fuck off and good bye. Because what are you waiting for... Your life is happening right now.... celebrate your own D-Day. Be liberated...