Tuesday, April 14, 2015
"President Obama, Are you with the Iranian people?"
"I thought that President Obama understood the feeling of being
oppressed by being an African-American himself...."
For as long as I live, I will never forget watching the violent and horrifying images of the protests of the presidential election in Tehran in 2009. Police and Baisji chasing protesters on motorcycles and beating them with batons.....overturned cars and trashcans on fire, Iranians lying in the streets, their clothes soaked with blood, a sea of Iranian people dressed in green, yelling, "Death to the dictator!" and the most graphic and frightening image of all, Neda Soltan lying on her back, her eyes widened in shock and blood pouring out from her chest........
Perhaps the one image that will forever stay etched in my mind, in the midst of all of the chaos and turmoil, the image of the desperate protesters, screaming for freedom and democracy, I can still hear their haunting chant, a question with a plea:
"President Obama, Are you with the Iranian people or with the Mullahs?"
Nasrin Mohammadi is my dear friend. She is an Iranian-American human rights activist who lives in Los Angeles, California. She came to America from Iran more than seven years ago after suffering one of the most painful experiences of her life. Her brother Akbar, a human rights activist and leader of the Student movement in Tehran, had finally died in Evin Prison as the result of years of torture at the hands of a merciless regime.
Nasrin retained her brother's prison diary and published it in a powerful book entitled, "Ideas and lashes: the prison diary of Akbar Mohammadi."
I had invited Nasrin to be a guest on my radio program, "The Cross in the Desert: Speaking hope and freedom to Iran."
The first question I asked Nasrin was, "When you see President Obama, If you will, sitting across the table negotiating with the Iranian Regime that killed your brother Akbar in Evin Prison in 2006, Do you feel betrayed by your president?"
There was a brief moment of silence as Nasrin collected her emotions and then she replied..........
"Of course, I feel betrayed, yes, unfortunately he chose not to stand by the oppressed Iranian people.....
Nasrin's voice cracked with emotion and then she excitedly proclaimed........
"I thought President Obama understood the feeling of being oppressed by being an African American himself........I thought the history of black slavery would make him feel sympathetic to those people under oppression!"
Nasrin is exactly right! Racism, the rights of black people, oppression, slavery....the media reminds us almost everyday of our evil "white" history. Given the facts of history and personal experience, one would think that President Obama would truly empathize with the Iranian people and would be more than willing to immediately rush to their aid....but incredibly somehow...Nuclear rights have become more important than human rights!
But wait a minute!!! When Michael Brown was shot by a Darrel Wilson, a white Ferguson police office, the Obama Administration wasted no time in sending the Department of Justice to St. Louis to conduct an immediate investigation....hmmmm seems like a huge double standard to me!..So race determines human rights?
Paymaneh Sabet is an Iranian-Christian refugee, living in exile in Malaysia. She also is a talented journalist and activist for her people. We are great friends! Even though she is a refugee living in exile, she has not forgotten her people. She periodically writes powerful articles about Iranians and their struggles for human rights. She emails the articles to me and I read them on my radio program. Recently I asked her to write an article about the nuclear negotiations. She promptly replied with an emotional letter to President Obama which read in part:
"Mr. President, you are helping the Islamic government in Iran to kill it's own people! This nation hoped you would help them restore what President Jimmy Carter did to them 35 years ago that paved the way for the Islamic revolution...Mr President, my nation is desperate, they are dying from suffocation, struggling to breathe, and they feel hopeless. They are crying out for human rights, while you negotiate for nuclear rights..."
Every day, I am saddened to hear that more political prisoners have been executed. Desperate Iranians who speak out or disagree with the government are silenced by the noose! Since Rouhani took office as the new president in August of 2013, executions have tripled..more than 1,000 prisoners have been marched to the gallows under his watch! The prison conditions are deplorable with poisoned food, rampant disease and continuous abuse and torture. Saeed Abedini, an Iranian-American pastor, and Amir Hekmati, a former marine and American citizen, languish in prison in Iran while we sit at the negotiating table with the number one sponsor of terrorism in the world!
While some Iranians, who are naively sympathetic to the cause of their government, chant,
the Obama Administration and John Kerry respond with a warm, cozy and intimate trust to a regime that cannot be trusted! We shake hands and promise relief from sanctions and funnel billions of dollars to a government who will use that money to further their terrorist grip in Yemen and Syria, and all over the world,
while the people of Iran suffer! Inflation, unemployment, suicide, drug abuse and no access to life saving medication, is the desperate plight of the Iranian people while the government relentlessly pursues their nuclear ambitions!
The 2009 election protests are now a part of history. Yet many of the protesters are still suffering in prison. The new president, with his charming smile and softer tone of voice compared to his predecessor, is busy deceiving the world with promises of reform..but its still the same old political game of deception.
The negotiations will continue until the June deadline. Iranians will still suffer and although massive bloody protests in the streets of Tehran are just images from the past, I can still hear their loud and haunting chant:
"President Obama, Are you with the people of Iran or with the Mullahs?"