Though this current regime may even one day come to a blistering end, I fear the worst for what may come next while there’s no true direction.
By Shadi Bozorg
The progression of events leading up to Iran’s Dec. 2017 into Jan. 2018 protests cannot be described in simplified terms. Easy as it is to tweet messages of support for the freedom-fighters in the streets, it’s vital to comprehend what’s really going on. As always, there’s much more to these protests than what the media has chosen to show us.
As the days have unfolded, I, a woman born in Tehran currently living in Canada, have been struggling with how to feel about it all. My first seriously bad gut feeling kicked in as soon as the Trump administration became a sudden fan of the same Iranian people they’ve repeatedly banned from entering America. One wonders what motives really exist there, but war happens to come to mind first.
The history of Iran’s politics is deeply complicated and often misrepresented. Like any country, corruption has existed in the creases of the nation since it’s conception. However, since the downfall of the Shah (The King) and the uprising of an Islamic regime run by Ayatollahs and Mullahs, the people of Iran have lived without any true liberty. The Shah’s regime was as unethical as any nation led by a King can be, but the uprising against him created an opening for an even more deeply corrupt, silencing, and ruthless leadership to be put in place.
The Islamic Republic of Iran was born in 1979 and continues on today. Countless people were murdered, tortured and put in jail fighting against the new rule, but they ruled nonetheless. Today, Iranian citizens are no longer willing to accept the current landscape; prices of food are at all time high, unemployment is at record levels, and life has become increasingly more difficult to sustain. Despite the government’s ruthless and well-known torture tactics and murder rates, an uprising has come underway. This has been viewed as a virtuous change on the horizon, hope for a better future.
Yet, I don’t feel hopeful. Since I was a child I’ve wished for the freedom of my birthplace; to one day be able to travel back there and see my family living without the constraints Islamic regime forces upon its citizens. I wish these protests made me feel something other than worry, but they don’t.
My cousin Neshat, who is a 29-year-old woman living in Iran, feels similarly. Neshat’s parents were both political activists during the Islamic revolution. They fought tirelessly against the conception of the Islamic Republic, her mother shot in the leg at a protest and her father imprisoned for 6 years.
I asked Neshat what her general feeling was towards these current protests. “Many young people, including myself, feel confused at this time. Some are fighting, others are more doubtful. The best thing that could realistically happen is that the current regime sees this as an opportunity to listen to us people more and makes changes within the current government. Another revolution will only result in more young people dying or spending the best years of their lives in jail. We’ve seen it happen before. Innocent lives will be lost. It won’t suddenly all get better.”
With deficient organization, so far there is only anger and a desire to overthrow the current regime. These are the same components that created an opening in the 1970’s — an opening that led to deeper suffering in the hands of Khomeini. This time, without any real leadership or plans set in place, one can only wonder who will try to hijack the movement and pursue their own agenda.
I fear that this could be a gateway that will put the lives of Iranians into even deeper jeopardy. But Neshat isn’t convinced it’ll even get that far. “I don’t believe there will be a regime change in our lifetime.” She says. “As much as one wishes this would happen and it would set us all free, it would actually set us back for many years to come, it would cause chaos. Reform is the safest route. People have to be heard somehow, and the government must come to terms with listening to us, but violence from our end will only create more violence on theirs. We must act peacefully in order to sustain our lives.”
While this uprising against corruption and depravity is an admirable and understandable feat, I can only hope it’ll end with a compromise of both sides rather than a total downfall since there is a lack of real leadership. The youth, the future of a nation that may become too vulnerable to sustain itself, the livelihoods of innocent people — these are all at stake. The hope of these protesters inspires me, but it frightens me all the same, for what we’ve seen of the world in recent years, namely in Syria and Egypt, is that chaos, even when administered by the side of the righteous, has not brought about any positive, lasting or organized change.
It may be cynical to view the world this way, but this planet has not proven kind to the innocent. The senseless violence and murders are what I think about when I see this happening on my screen. I worry about my family. I worry about hopeful freedom-fighting people.
Though Donald Trump may tweet that he supports and will aid the people of Iran, while Russia and China continue to be on the side of the Ayatollah’s, all these screams and lives lost will be in vain. Though this current regime may even one day come to a blistering end, I fear the worst for what may come next while there’s no true direction. My hope is that reform is a possibility and that Neshat will find peace where it’s possible rather than have to live in the rubble of chaos.
Author Bio: Shadi Bozorg is a screenwriter and freelance writer currently living in Toronto. Shadi was born in Iran, moving to Canada as a toddler with her family. She aims to be an advocate for all marginalized people, and is passionate about topics concerning the human condition.