Tuesday, November 04, 2008

We Will Stay and Fight ‎
Issa Saharkhiz

Roozonline- 2008.11.05
Barring political and civil society activists from exiting the country has become a ‎repetitive and tiring game. ‎
It does not matter on whom this policy is implemented: social volunteer or political ‎activist. What is important is that those who want to leave and “return” are not allowed ‎to leave. On the other hand, some of those who want to leave and “not return” do not ‎face any problems and the security apparatus is even happy that they are leaving and not ‎returning. It is not important to what country or what purpose they are departing. What ‎matters is that they leave and not return. But if they intend to leave and return, then they ‎must pay the price.‎
It is true that people do not suddenly go “missing” as they did during the previous ‎decade, but measures are still in place to relegate them to the sidelines. When in prison ‎and during interrogation sessions officers do whatever they want to their victims so that ‎they forgo the right to live in Iran: officers make arrangements for them to be fired from ‎their workplace for questionable reasons, shut down their offices, officially or ‎unofficially, drive their publishing companies to the verge of bankruptcy, filter their ‎websites and blogs, threaten them or create an environment of terror so that they would ‎refuse to grant interviews to or cooperate with media outlets outside the country, shut ‎down their civil society centers… All of this so that they finally throw up their hands and ‎say, “Leave us alone, we will leave and not return!” ‎
They want the social and political activists to leave and not return so that they can point ‎accusatory fingers to friends and family, colleagues and coworkers and shout: "Didn't we ‎tell you that they all are foreign mercenaries!" They want all political and civil society ‎activists to leave Iran so that in Iran, newspapers or magazines, blogs, streets, alleys and ‎universities are no longer bothers to the government, so that the government would no ‎longer has to worry about eruption of social movements spearheaded by political activists ‎or civil society volunteers. ‎
If their policy is to encourage us to leave and not return, we must do something else: stay ‎and persevere in our work and remain committed to our plans. If the game is to return us ‎from the airport and then pressure us to give our passports back to us, we must let go of ‎passports and the desire to travel, whether for political or social motives or to participate ‎in a conference or gathering or workshop, or whether for personal reasons and visiting a ‎child or parents. In return, however, we must defend our rights not behind closed doors ‎of interrogation rooms, but in domestic and foreign courts. ‎
We must stay and fight and do something so that, not only our country is not emptied of ‎political and civil society activists, but also those who left return and help us change ‎conditions inside the country. ‎
We may face prison, or unemployment or threats if we stay, but that is better than the ‎prospect of our children having the same problems as us in the future, and Iranians ‎having to leave their country's borders for an ounce of freedom and security, and not see ‎anything of their country, other than a giant prison, the size of Iran! ‎


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