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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

                                                      "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.