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Sunday, August 5, 2018

"No matter if we die, we'll retake Iran."

This is the latest blog from my dear Iranian friend, Mehnoush, who is currently living as a refugee in Sweden awaiting an interview for residency. Mehnoush takes us behind this scenes to the uprising and bloody protests in Iran featuring the personal message from a courageous freedom fighter.

      The voice of people's protest across the streets is the sign of a new movement towards freedom and being saved from a dark and vague future. People from almost every city have been gathering in the streets to put an end to a 40-year period of cruelty, corruption, capital punishment and war raising regime. You the incapable authorities of the Islamic government, you need to pack your stuff and face the end of these 40 years of dictatorship and cruelty. 

Iranian people are not going to calm down until they make sure their land is filled with freedom, peace and stability. Their patience and resistance will soon result in the sweet tune of freedom.

    The evil 40-year period of Islamic government of mullahs has come to an end, a period overflowing with cruelty, corruption, murder and bloodshed. Throughout all history, Iran has never experienced a government more shameful than the one run by the mullahs. No one can imagine the number of the crimes committed or the youth being murdered or the girls and young women being raped by the agents of this regime or the families scattered away and wandering homelessly on the streets or in foreign lands during this horrifying dominion. There are numerous types of crimes committed by these vicious murderers. In the last 40 years, the only headlines and top stories have been about murder, death, capital punishment, war, suicide, embezzlement, poverty, unemployment and inflation.

        Every single day, as soon we open our eyes, we face a dark and vague future before us. We only struggle to survive. Life means nothing to us. We only pass the time with an empty stomach and an exhausted body. The breaking news of men, women and even children committing suicide, embezzlement, unemployment, inflation, water and electricity outage in addition to the recent droughts have all made us lose our hope and spend our days and nights in sheer stress. We do not have the slightest human and social rights. We now only imagine reaching our wishes during our nightly dreams. We do not dare to think of the future as we barely see a future ahead. Only a day to night routine has been satisfying and enough for us. The voice of our protest on the streets with empty hands is heard well enough, but only our photos and videos are shared through the social media. I wonder when such black clouds are going to leave the sky of my city! I wonder if we can ever sense the smell of freedom and peacefulness. The only common hope followed by all Iranians these days is to get freedom, democracy and peacefulness back to the ancient land of Persia, a dream that can only come true when people are in unison. So, let's get out now and start to shout:

                           "No matter if we die, we'll retake Iran.”

Sunday, June 24, 2018

The cruel task of piggybacking in Iran.

This is the latest blog from my dear friend Mehnoush. Mehnoush is an Iranian refugee currently residing in Sweden and patient awaiting her residency from the Immigration board. She contributes personal articles to my radio program that describe the plight of Iranians desperate for freedom living under the iron fist of a dictatorship regime.

    Life in the west of Iran which is tied to extreme poverty, calamity and bitter stories of the fate of the people trapped by a brutal, cruel regime, makes one wonder why a nation's welfare (back in Pahlavi Regime) contributed to jobs like piggybacking.

  Sometimes the stories released about the piggy backer in Iran are so tragic that one may hardly believe a human being undergone such an extreme amount of pain and agony. Every day, we hear government's border officers murder one or two of these piggy backers throughout western border towns in Iran. These people are neither a trafficker nor a thief, they are only some poor, simple individuals tied up by a cruel, corrupted regime who are obliged to carry very heavy stuff on their back and get them to the other side of the borderline on foot. The income is so insignificant that can barely meet their daily needs.

    It is noteworthy that on their way to the other side, they face several dangers like the government's border guards' shooting them, falling off the high rocks of the area and stepping on the mines from Iran-Iraq war period that have not been cleared yet within Iran's border towns. It has been reported that several piggy backers have lost their limbs walking over these mines. Interestingly enough, among these carriers there have been some educated young people and intellectual pioneers who have accepted to do such a job out of a desperate need of employment.

     One of these young people is "Bagher Ahmadi". He has a master's in math’s and also holds the highest rank in PhD entrance university examination, yet he is one of the million young Kurdish people who sign up for such jobs due to the difficulties of life.

       Another tragic example is the story about "Khezr". He is an old man with a daily income of about 10 to 15 dollars. Although suffering from a heart attack, he is the breadwinner of an eight-member family. Every day, he has to carry heavy goods uphill with the help of his cane to Iraqi Kurdistan in order to make ends meet.

      These are only parts of the suffering in piggy backers’ lives who are obliged to carry very heavy stuff on their backs and reach their destination on foot. However "suffering" may not suffice to describe their situation trapped by such a cruel regime.

        To the suffering people of Israel that were oppressed and burdened by the twisted version of God's law heaped upon them by the Pharisees and scribes, Jesus reached out to them in love and compassion, calling them to find their rest in him.

          "Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest."
                                                                      (Matthew 11:28)

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Let's be the voice for tortured Iranian Prisoners!

  Becoming a voice for tortured Iranian prisoners is the passion of Mehnoush's life.  In her latest blog, Mehnoush takes us behind the scenes into the dark and horrific torture chamber of Evin Prison. 
  Mehnoush is an Iranian refugee currently living in Sweden awaiting an interview to determine her residency. She is a human rights activist for her people living in Iran, the biggest prison in the world since 1979.

   Unfortunately, during the last 38 years that the dictator Islamic regime has been ruling Iran, the vicious authorities have imposed any possible kind of harassment and torture on Iranian people, especially those who are imprisoned. Sometimes we get to hear the news of both physical and spiritual tortures of Iranian prisoners and sometimes don't. Now, let's be the voice of these captive people and let the rest of the world know about them, the people who get tortured, physically as well as spiritually,in the worst possible way ever!

    One such significant torture is long-term solitary confinement during which darkness rules every corner and no light can penetrate into or no news from the outer world is heard. In this situation, the prisoner delves into the cell's darkness and undergoes silent breakdowns. In other circumstances, along with such spiritual tortures, the physical torture of other prisoners and their moans of pain gets silenced by the thick walls of the prison. There are heartless executioners who hang men and women prisoners from the ceiling, make them lie down on so-called "miracle beds" and torture them by whipping, electric shocks, heating men's penis by scorching skewers, ironing women's breasts and pulling finger or toenails off savagely. If one survives these beds and confesses to doing whatever she or he has not actually committed, he or she may rise up, but many people cannot tolerate the pressure and die very quickly.. These are some of the tortures applied to the prisoners.

    Of the worst physical tortures one may mention is "rape". Several girls and young women are reported to have been raped by groups of jailors or objects like coke bottles. One of the most disastrous samples of such a dehumanizing torture is that of Taraneh Mousavi. They not only raped her in group, but burned her half-dead body to remove any possible evidence of their crime and buried it afterward. Moreover, it is sometimes reported that men prisoners are threatened to observe their wives and daughters being raped before their eyes if they refuse to confess. Hearing this could be regarded as the worst mental and spiritual torture for a man.
   Most political prisoners sentenced to long imprisonments or capital punishment in Iran's prisons have finally obliged to confess by hearing just this single sentence and then said goodbye to their lives. One of these victims was the Kurdish political prisoner, Ramin Hossein Panahi who was severely wounded on his detention day and spent 200 days in  solitary confinement suffering the most horrible physical torture and is now about to face  the death penalty.


These are only few of the physical and spiritual tortures of Iran's horrendous prisons. So let's be the voice of all these defenseless prisoners

Saturday, June 2, 2018

                                                                  Shole Pakravan:
                                                        A powerful voice for humanity

        My dear Iranian friend Mehnoush's latest blog is a tribute to a courageous freedom fighter, Shole Pakravan, who is a powerful voice standing up against executions in Iran. On October 25, 2014, her daughter Reyhaneh was unjustly hanged after a long seven year imprisonment for defending herself against a government rapist. Shole and her other daughter, Shahrzad, now reside safely in Berlin, Germany after successfully fleeing from 
Iran in 2017.

   Shole Pakravan is a well-educated, open-minded woman and a real fighter; she fights for righteousness, humanity, freedom and more importantly against capital punishment, the very thing that had shadowed both her life and her family's for 7 years, the darkness that harassed her spirituality while being captured behind Rajaee Shahr Prison in Karaj and distanced her from her beloved daughter, Reyhaneh. It was then when she intended to take serious steps to fight against capital punishment in support of many other Reyhanehs and thousands of young people who are hanged and silenced in the Islamic Republic every day. Today this liberal woman recognized as a human rights and anti-death penalty campaign activist stands on behalf of the mothers who have lost their children in unjust and fake courts controlled by cruel and governmental judges. Moreover, Shole's voice is widely spread on behalf of those mothers who struggle to save their children from a probable execution, the ones who silently break within themselves and the nightmarish image of their children being hanged has haunted them days and nights.

   Shole Pakravan, a dramatic actress and director, is a passionate and loyal family woman. Unfortunately one summer day in July 2007, her older daughter, Reyhaneh, was assaulted by  a former intelligence agent in an empty and abandoned old house.Terrified of being raped at any moment, she managed to stab him in the shoulder with a knife simply to defend herself and then escaped away. Nevertheless, she was probably unaware that the Islamic authorities are always prepared enough to victimize one innocent figure to conceal their own devilish deeds. Finally, despite her young age and all the hope her family had developed, Reyhaneh Jabbari, who was arrested at 19, said goodbye to her life in the early morning hours of October 25, 2014 after her 7-year imprisonment. She proudly and courageously faced the noose on the gallows and her spirit flew away to rest in peace.

  In fact, the Islamic regime had intended to scare Iranian girls and women by executing Reyhaneh to let them know they are not allowed to resist the harassments of government agents. Otherwise, as women are all regarded as the government's captives, they would be imprisoned, punished severely and then executed. They killed Reyhaneh, the beautiful and kind girl who was described by many prisoners and even jailors as the one with a bright sign of hope and taught many solitary women prisoners the ways of mutual respect and progress. They murdered her in order to put hope, generosity and kindness to death! However, they did not realize she was actually a seed planted throughout Iran's soil. They only killed one Reyhaneh, whereas thousands of Reyhanehs grew fast afterwards. Consequently, Atena Daemi was found guilty for objecting to Reyhaneh's execution, but she simply grew stronger. As such, these objections along with several other public protests by women against capital punishment and for retrieving their lost rights were spread through.

   As a conclusion, let's read one of the emotional but heartbreaking notes Shole Pakravan wrote in the memory of her darling daughter, Reyhaneh:

My dear, beloved, sweetheart Reyhan,

   In spite of all the agony I have gone through, I am well-prepared to fight for your right. I'll never stop going the way you opened my eyes to. As I promised you, now, my hands are your hands, my feet are your feet, my eyes are your eyes and my throat is your throat even if one day the deadly ropes of gallows surround your delicate throat, my beloved, buried beauty.
You have already forgiven your judges and tormentors and murderers in this world and postponed your rights reclamation to the afterworld. But I will never ever forgive the one who suppressed you, made up those fake investigations and hearings, signed your execution sentence, prepared the gallows and pulled the trigger that stopped you breathing. I want them to be punished in this world as well as the other one in which a divine court will sentence them to eternal torture so that no mother would see her child being executed before her own eyes.

    Now, like any other time, I claim your soul is integrated into my whole body and my life seems to depend on reclaiming your rights. It feels as if I've been living with the memory of your existence for thousands of days. Even in a thousand-years’ time, every single particle and dust of my essence will call your name out loud amidst unruly and free winds. I'll witness your eternal victory against the aggressor government. Your seven year battle with the supporters of the intelligence agency offenders peaked magnificently up on the gallows. On the dawn of 25 October 2014, you were standing in the middle of the execution field of Rajaee Shahr Prison with tied hands. Staring at your murderers with your big bright eyes and without a single sign of doubt in their villainy, you shouted, "You may take my life, but you can never pollute it with the shame of surrender and agreement." Although you're gone, the path you've taken is safely maintained, the path that you yourself let me know about; you, my everlasting companion.

   Now is the time to announce proudly that "Reyhan Foundation" in Europe is formally registered. Reyhan Foundation supports all the ones sentenced to capital punishment, the family of executed prisoners as well as rape victims or prisoners. I feel certain enough that the foundation will be endorsed by kindhearted people, institutions and many activists in the realms of women's rights and anti-death penalty advocates. Disregarding any particular ideology or tendency pertaining to a political party or so, Reyhan Foundation will surely proceed against rape and execution as decisively as possible and motivate Iranian people contributing to rub capital punishment off Iranian society forever.  


                                                      "The Plight of Iranian refugees."

   Mehnoush is my dear Iranian refugee friend who currently resides in Sweden, waiting patiently to be interviewed for permanent residency. She is a frequent contributor to my radio program writing powerful stories about the struggle for human rights in Iran.

The formation of the dictator Islamic regime in Iran led to a new wave of Iranian citizens taking refuge in European countries as well as Turkey. The fate of a large number of Iranian immigrants and refugees has been
 tied to the very Islamic regime. A multitude of immigration and escape from Iran is due to the lack of political, social, religious and economic freedom along with a severe suppression of transgender minority.

Iranian people have a highly rich culture behind them and are nationalist; they honor family values and adore their mother land, but because of all the pressure and suppression imposed by the authorities of the Islamic regime, despite their heartfelt feeling, some of them have been obliged to leave their land and family and take refuge in Turkey and other European countries hoping for a better future with freedom of expression, religion and attitude.

One of the mental pressures of the Islamic regime on Iranian people is to make sure they remain a Muslim. In Islam, the ones who intend to ignore Islam and convert to other religions like Christianity, Bahá'í Faith, etc. are called "atheist" and are often sentenced to harsh punishments like long imprisonment and capital punishment. Unfortunately, the dictator, mullah-based regime in Iran refuses to respect the values of the religious minorities. As such, the number of Iranian people who intend to escape from their country and take refuge in other countries and then convert to another religion has been rising significantly. Almost all the Iranian refugees who have converted to Christianity are the ones who hate Islam and being a Muslim; a remarkable number of them has undergone serious spiritual and mental breakdowns suffering from long-term depression.

Every Sunday, when I go to a magnificent church in Stockholm to say my prayers, I face several Iranian refugees there who tell me about the inner peace and calmness Christianity has bestowed on them; they talk about the peaceful feeling they find in the name of Jesus and are certain enough that they now have a fresh spirit with a life full of hope and passion. They even believe, after their conversion to Christianity, that there is hope for a change in Iran's dark and ambiguous situation.

As Christian people, we feel very fortunate to have been able to choose our own way and due to our sincere faith in Jesus Christ, we currently benefit from a safe and secure life in such a free land like Sweden which is a strong advocate of women and children's rights. Let's hope for the day when all of us, with any kind of political and religious attitude, may live together as happily as possible in our own land ruled by a true democratic government.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Iranians desperately need a regime change immediately!

It is my pleasure to introduce my dear Iranian friend, Mehnoush. Mehnoush escaped from Iran and ended up in Sweden as a refugee awaiting a decision from the immigration board to determine if she will remain there or be deported.
After arriving in Sweden, Mehnoush eagerly converted to Christianity discovering the true God of love and eternal life revealed in Jesus Christ. This is her first blog on my website and I'm very excited to share it with you. Mehnoush is a regular contributor, writing excellent articles about human rights for Iranians.

The fall of the Islamic regime is certain. The way you have already picked will soon drown you in a swamp of collapse. The entire world has turned against you. The international pressure has grown wider; the economic status has become worse, the number of the unemployed has proved to be more and more and more people have been abandoning you; you are about to undergo a fate similar to that of Gaddafi and the like sooner or later. After 38 years, you have not only failed to provide people with enough support and welfare, but you have helped poverty, social class gaps and embezzlement grows. Now, you do not seem to be able to silence people anymore with the power of your poniards and bullets, censorship and prisons; if such suppressions worked, many other previous dictatorships had been survived in history!
 Do not treat the Iranian and other nations as stupid people with your false and misleading statistics. You are not allowed to ruin this country anymore. Do not rely on Hezbollah warriors and your Russian and Chinese supporters. This is Iran, not Syria. This is the land of Kaveh the Blacksmith, Achaemenid Cyrus and Darius the Great and the land of a thousand-year history of full-blooded people. You have turned the forests into deserts, the rivers into sheer dry lands and the seas into complete brackish grounds.
Our factories have gone bankrupt and the economy is utterly paralyzed. The rate of suicide has increased and the lack of joy and happiness along with imposing severe restrictions and prohibitions, physical violence against some certain groups of the society, especially women, spiritual, mental and economical harassment, unemployment, poverty, lack of hope to the future, anxiety and stress have all brought about mentionable violence and anger throughout the society. Did you just see how Trump made the nuclear deal - the one you boasted to have achieved proudly- as worthless as possible?! Now is the age of computers and the Internet and the whole world is observing your evil deeds! 
You simply eradicated a precious forty years of opportunity and stole the state budget, replaced the right with the wrong, obliged women to accept obligatory hijab, ruined the nation's culture, forced many people to leave and live in stranger lands, shattered a multitude of families, devalued the importance of Iranian passport and currency, executed hundreds of young people in groups, raped virgin girls in prisons, sent the country's young people for nothing to shout about as an acceptable excuse to fight ISIL. But enough is enough! We’re fed up to the teeth!
 We will not be silent any more until we make sure this evil regime will collapse for certain! And of course we are aware enough not to let any other Islamic government hold the power including People’s Mujahedin of Iran, a treacherous party which agreed to sell the whole and country and its people cheap to murderous Khomeini. Although they still feel ready to reappear and take power, they should bear in mind that today there is no place for any other Islamist traitors any longer.

Re-examining our motives for being a voice for the voiceless!

My dear Iranian friend Paymaneh, who is refugee currently residing in Malaysia,  is a writing contributor to my radio program, "The Cross in the Desert: Speaking hope and freedom to Iran." She is currently waiting for a very important interview with the UNHCR to determine her future in a country where she can worship and live in freedom. Paymaneh has written numerous articles that deal with the issue of human rights in Iran. This is her latest installment that challenges those of us who are Christian human rights activist, to re-think the motives for why we are the voice of the voiceless!

Dear Internet world!

Now that the world is sinking deep in much ado, war here and protest there, campaign here and sanction there, terrorist attacks here and negotiations there, many of us are focusing on this issue and that issue. Some of us support this wing and some are advocate of that political group, some criticize this leader and some have been enemies of that group. Some think that a regime must be overthrown and some believe that such and such’s money must be blocked. Some, like the regime in Iran, curse this and that country and in the optimistic way, some pray for a groups success.
The fact is that the current situation has distracted many of us from God. We claim that we are standing for God, we are serving God, we have consecrated ourselves to God, but how true our claim is? Is our supporting a person or a group according to God’s desire? Or for our own selves or our friend’s satisfaction? Are the protests in Iran for God’s will and people’s salvation or just for the nation’s freedom and better life?

You might say’ “humanity matters, human rights matters, liberty and having a good life matters.” Yes, you are right. They all matter but do they bring salvation to those people whose success and liberty we love to see? Do they bring eternal life to them?
We have our options for the regime change in Iran, but will the next person on the power open the doors for the gospel or will them still remain closed tight by another Islamic government? How much will God be pleased by our involvement in their regime change? How much can we prepare the way for the Lord’s second coming? People in Iran will be free again, whether they are supported by the world or not as it is God’s promise in Jeremiah and God never changes His words and promises. But do we have a positive role in fulfilling this promise?

How about our supporting Syrians inside the country and Syrian refugees? Do we pray and try our best for them to be exposed to the gospel and get to know the truth? Or is it for letting them make more mosques in our non-Islamic countries to Islamicize the country?
Are our prayers for women in Saudi Arabia for just their freedom from the tyranny of their Muslim men and religion-based law or are the prayers for their knowing the real source of freedom?
 How about our fame? Are we making new video series or telegram voice files to support Inqelab Avenue girls or are they an opportunity for ourselves to be known by the world?
Many of us easily put God’s name on our activities and claim that we are walking with God in our political stands, But we need to remember that Jesus was killed in the name of God by those who believed in God and claimed that they had faith in God. They crucified Jesus to serve God, they thought. When Jesus prayed for the murderers and mockers, He said, “Father! Forgive then. They don’t know what they are doing.” Are we sure that we know what we are doing? Are we sure that we are not offending God with our activities and are not hindering His work?
Many of political leaders are enjoying their freedom and safety abroad and encouraging people imprisoned inside their countries to fight, to break things, to destroy certain buildings, to burn banks, even to self-immolate (believe me) and promise that they would be their voice from outside the country. Would they do the same if they were inside the country? Would they give their loved ones the advice? Consciously or unconsciously we might help their voice be heard. They might get happy and be thankful, but will God be pleased too?

Our roles in the issue in the world, especially Middle East might be very important, we might be a TV star with thousands of fans who can burn every corner of the corner saying yes to our advice or might be a Hollywood star getting thousands of likes under our posts supporting Hillary in the US, or a free journalist whom majority of women support in Facebook because or supporting women. But how much will God say yes to us, hits a like button under our actions and intentions and support us? I don’t intend to advise or criticize anybody as I am not the right person for that. It was just what God instilled into me during long hours of prayers and I felt I need to share them with you. I felt Maybe it’s time to think and re-think a little bit differently (not to be left behind by….).