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Saturday, October 27, 2018

Dear God: Please bring freedom to Iran

In this powerful blog, you will feel the heart of Mehnoush as she cries out to God to restore and bring freedom to her Homeland, Iran. This powerful prayer will be featured in our new book, "Dear God, please bring freedom to Iran." There is incredible power in prayer and it is amazing how God uses our heartfelt prayers to shape and change history!

Dear God,
             I’m writing to you because I have a very special request. This isn’t your typical prayer because I’m not asking for something small. I’m also not asking for you to intervene and restore peace in the growing number of war torn countries, to end world hunger and poverty, to heal disease, or to make my dreams come true (although all of those would be awesome)…but am asking for a miracle. In fact, this is the biggest, most significant, and most important thing I’ve ever asked for.
   When I was still a child, my mother used to tell me, “A clean white painting canvas is bestowed on everyone by God at the beginning of his/her life. Once he lets everybody have enough paint and a brush, he whispers the word “goal” in his/her ear and then lets us be free to be the artist of our own life.”

As I grew up and learned more about the real meaning of life, goal and freedom, I realized life was      not simply a room with two windows but there are thousands of them … Then I imagined looking out of the window of desperation and I felt like I was about to cry. I imagined if I looked out of the window of hopefulness, I could change the whole world. Accordingly, when I imagine looking out of a closed window, then I could sense how dingy and dark the world would be … And when I opened the window, I then realized how stunning and massive the whole world was! But we don’t live for a long time though … I don’t have the time to look at every window of life. That was why I decided to take the open window, but it seems the window before my eyes has been shut for years and I just can’t get to see the farther horizons of life! My world in my motherland has been dingy dark and for years and I didn’t realize it until I grew up.      
   Yes! It has been for years that the window of hope and freedom has been closed to my motherland, Iran, and it has been darkened by a thick mist indeed. My dear Lord, that very young child who used to imagine a massive stunning world with open windows has now realized that all the windows have been blocked by such thick darkness for years and that we are all captivated within the frame. There’s neither any smell of light nor freedom. We’ve been living in complete exile, fear and palpitation for years. Freedom to us is nothing but those childish dreams inside us which have also been growing along with us all. My dear God, now I can realize how important freedom was; now that I made it out of all those years of captivity and palpitation to live in a land of freedom and democracy, I’ve finally recognize what this term really means.  
   Dear God, we had a revolution 40 years ago for more freedom; simply because we didn’t know what freedom meant?! Because we were never a thankful nation! We simply believed freedom was nothing but free electricity and water in our houses or free bus tickets. Because we thought Islam was more sacred than freedom. We lost freedom and got an Islamic revolution instead. Now, after 40 long years we have realized freedom was not that easy to let go of recklessly. Without freedom, there’ll be no books and authorship, no understanding and perception, no science and knowledge, no hope and brightness, no economy and development, no literacy and improvement and no life and future; in fact there would be nothing but you sitting in a corner passing life without a single understanding of how the rest of the world is and who we have been!   
   My Dear Lord, we are all thirsty for freedom but there’s nothing around except the dream of it. My dear God, it is vividly clear that Iranian nation have all passed your test as assiduously as possible. These days, no one can sense the scent of life and you and only you are the only one who can deliver this nation from captivity. There’s no light left for us, we have no hope and we all beg you to give us back our lost freedom. We have learned enough all these years that we shouldn’t simply ignore what we already have and that we should not go backward while everything else proceeds ahead; we have all learned we should never exchange our freedom for anything. Almighty God has created all of us equal so that we can decide freely and live our lives as we wish. We aren’t supposed to underestimate this precious word of “freedom”. Freedom is our life compass helping us moving ahead and we only get to understand how watching out an open window and seeing the massive stunning world feel!  
   My dear God, I truly love you and I know you can hear my heart beats and you know well enough this is not just one single individual’s request and shout, but the request and shout of millions of other people captivated on a deserted island waiting for a hopeful captain’s great ship to save all of them. My God, you are our true captain and now millions of people are crying out for your help. Please come and free us all from this deserted island. 

Your humble Child                                                                                                                   

Friday, October 5, 2018

The tragic life and death of Zeinab.

In her latest blog, Mehnoush tells the tragic story of a young child bride who was accused of murdering her abusive husband in order to stay alive and after many years in prison was executed by the evil Iranian regime.
Zeinab joins a long list of victimized women in Iran who are unjustly executed by a misogynistic culture.

    Once again, another case of a woman and another crime against her committed by the shameless and misogynist system of Islamic Republic of Iran!

     Zainab Sekaanvand was a teenage girl whose family forced her to marry at the young age of 15. She suffered for a long time being beaten and tortured by her abusive husband. Through several letters from prison, she had already explained everything about her dark and shameful life; also, she had claimed to have been raped several times by her brother-in-law.

   When she was only a teenager, Zainab may have been compelled to commit a crime which could be considered a kind of self-defense against threat, rape, harassment, cursing and torture, while Islamic system calls it murder. Like so many other innocent women, Zeinab was compelled to confess to a murder that she later denied committing after finally being represented by a lawyer. Despite her denial, the Judge refused to investigate her claim and instead sentenced her to death. The judge on duty did not pay any attention at all to the way she had been harassed and tortured and only emphasized the need for capital punishment. In a letter to Human Rights Organization, Zeinab had already mentioned that she was frequently tortured and hit by her male investigators who had made her sign some phony documents. She was also raped by one investigator during the investigation process; afterwards, she got pregnant and gave birth to a still born child. 

       However, the prison authorities claimed she had already gotten married to one of the prisoners and then became pregnant! No one can possibly believe such a big lie! In fact, this suppressed young girl is a typical example of thousands of Iranian girls and women who are regularly harassed and oppressed by the judicial and legal system of the country and then executed as innocent victims. None of these girls and women are allowed to complain or live a normal life under the control of the Islamic government and they are simply regarded as sexual slaves of men’s lusts. This is the only value of a girl or a woman in Islamic ideology as well as in Islamic lands.   

       In the end, Zainab was cruelly executed on October 2, 2018 and her name joined the memories of a long list of female victims. 


              Now you may now rest in peace, you have finally been freed from the cruelty that you faced throughout your short 24-year-old life. Now is the time to prepare and restore your lost rights in the righteous and just presence of Almighty; the day all your torturers and executioners are going to be punished for good!

Thursday, October 4, 2018

A tribute to Golrokh Iraee

This article is adapted from my book, "Broken yet beautiful: Rising up from their ashes."  It is originally written by Mehnoush my dear Iranian friend living in Sweden. Golrokh is Mehnoush's hero, a courageous Iranian woman who refuses to be silent even while suffering in prison.

        The theme of our book is that beauty comes from brokenness. Women have suffered immensely for thousands of years and have been broken yet remained strong. From this brokenness has emerged a defiant spirit that has been rejuvenated, rising up from the ashes of suffering to confront the cancer eating away at their dignity and self-worth. One such survivor is a woman that I admire greatly for her courage and determination to not remain silent but to rise up against a dictatorship government. That survivor is Golrokh Iraee.

        Golrokh is a writer and a political activist serving a six-year sentence for charges related to an unpublished story she wrote criticizing the practice of stoning in Iran. Golrokh was arrested on September 6, 2014 along with her husband Arash Sadeghi, who also is a committed political activist.

        After their arrest, authorities violently ransacked the couple’s home without a search warrant. They confiscated personal possessions such as laptops, CDs, and papers. Among the papers was a notebook that Golrokh used as a personal diary. The diary contained a fictional handwritten story in which a female character watches the Stoning of Saraya M, a 2009 Persian-language film depicting the true story of a woman stoned to death for adultery in Iran.

        Golrokh was interrogated about the contents of the diary and her story. During her initial interrogation, she was repeatedly pressured to confess under the threat of execution. She was questioned in a room adjoining the location where her husband was detained and she could hear him being tortured through the walls. Golrokh was placed in solitary confinement for three days and endured twenty days without access to a family lawyer or court proceeding.

        Golrokh was convicted in May 2015. She was charged with “insulting Islamic sanctities” for the diary entry and spreading propaganda against the system for two separate Facebook posts as well as possession of alleged anti-government propaganda in her home. She was convicted in absentia and sentenced to six years in prison. Her husband Arash, on the other hand, was sentenced to 15 years in prison on charges of spreading propaganda against the system for interviews he conducted about human rights issues and prison conditions. In addition to the charges he was also convicted of spreading lies in Cyberspace for Facebook posts about political prisoners and insulting the Supreme leader of the Islamic Republic
        Golrokh continues to speak out publicly to protest the Iranian government from her jail cell. She has written several open letters from prison, including one in which she refused to participate in the May 2017 presidential election, criticizing a staged tour of Evin prison for foreign ambassadors.

        In January 2018, Golrokh faced additional charges for allegedly insulting Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and reciting a political poem. She was subsequently beaten by prison guards and transferred to Shahr-e-Rey prison after she refused to go to court. In February 2018 she began a hunger strike which seriously impacted her health and in April she was transferred to the hospital in critical condition.

        Golrokh is a courageous Iranian woman who is standing up against the dictatorship government that has brought death and destruction to her Persian homeland. She symbolizes the freedom and courage of all Iranian women. She refuses to be silent!

*Update on Arash Sadeghi....

        Arash is suffering from bone cancer and the Iranian authorities are denying him adequate medical care. Please speak out and keep Arash in your thoughts and prayers!