Sunday, January 30, 2005

not again... and green home!

As I was browsing the web this morning, I came across Shahram Razavi's images, which are mainly from Tehran. Most of the images depict buildings and streets from the north of Tehran and certainly leave out the other face of the city. Regardless, I find them very interesting. I have read and heard about the construction projects by wealthy Iranians who have close ties to corrupt bonyads, and I was imagining that some of the high-rises may have been built as a result of those projects. Many of the places in Shahram's photographs did not exist or did not look the same when I left Iran, right after the end of war with Iraq more than 15 years ago. After looking at these pictures, the thought of a possible U.S. attack on Iran and the damage that such an attack could cause to these municipal developments in Tehran, Ahwaz, Isfahan, and many other cities made me extremely angry.
It has taken many years for Iranians to recuperate from eight years of war (many have not recovered yet and are still suffering from the losses that the war imposed upon them). It won't be just these buildings that will be ruined and lost. After all, unlike what most of these magnificent images depict, Tehran is very much populated (and so are other cities and villages). It will be numerous lives that will be lost. But for those Iranians who may survive the "shock and awe" of U.S. "liberation" forces, a U.S. appointed/supported regime would also mean the loss of whatever rights they have gained in the last two decades in their struggle against the Iranian government.
It wasn't until after the end of the destructive war in 1989 that Iranian people got the chance to effectively challenge the government and make political changes -tasks which were practically impossible during the war. Similar to what we are witnessing here in the U.S. today, the urgency of war and the nationalist sentiments that often accompany territorial protection were used by the state to suppress voices of dissent. In fact many changes did not take place until after 1989, when the post-revolutionary government could no longer contain people's discontents. The government was held accountable to the people who had sacrificed so much during a long war that immediately followed the revolution.
Iranian people have constantly fought for their rights and have changed laws and policies. It may not seem that way to those who watch from the outside and may only get their news from mainstream media or from some Iranian Opposition groups in diaspora, who for some reason are frozen in their time of departure and have a tendency to see the Iranian state as a unified category. But regardless of such representations, the situation has drastically changed exactly because of Iranian people's struggles. Of course change cannot happen over night and the political atmosphere in Iran has had its ups and downs. People have risked (and continue to risk) a lot in their struggles. An attack on Iran will dismantle all their efforts. U.S. intervention may in some people's view be one step forward, but it will certainly be ten steps backward for many Iranians.
All the energy that is being spent on changes from within will be redirected to fight the U.S. occupation. I think despite their dissatisfaction with the Iranian government, many people would strongly oppose occupation forces. When I was doing fieldwork in Istanbul and was questioning people about their opinions on the Los Angeles-produced Iranian satellite television programs, I encountered an interesting reaction from many people who assumed that I was taking back their views to satellite television programs, or to the U.S. media. A young man who was traveling with his wife and was waiting for the bus to go back told me: "I am strongly against the Iranian government. But tell them [U.S. based satellite television producers] not to make mistakes. Young Iranians will be the first ones to step forward and defend their country if the U.S. attacks Iran. I will be the first one to defend my homeland." Another young man who seemed to have a very successful business in an expensive area of Istanbul told me: "I left Iran because my wife and I don't want to live under the current political atmosphere in Iran. But if the leader, with whom I am not happy at all, appears on national television and asks Iranian youth to go to the frontline to defend the country, I will be in Iran that very day!"
I don't want to analyze the masculinist language used by these two young man (and many others) who coupled the protection of territory with defending the honor of "our sisters and mothers." That is another discussion. But, I want to make the point that unlike what some people seem to assume, many Iranians will not remain quiet if the U.S. launches an attack on Iran; no matter how much they resent the Iranian government.
In any case, here is an image from Iran's Azadi Square (Freedom Square formerly known as "Shah-yaad" Square) which was the scene of many anti-Shah demonstrations in Tehran. The white walls of the monument were adorned/vandalized (depending on how you look at it!) by revolutionary slogans during the revolution years, and by patriotic and Islamic ones during the war years. They seem slogan-less now, but it's hard to say from this bird's eye view. I certainly hope that it does not have to see anti-occupation slogans, or worse yet, bear damages from U.S. bombs.

By the way, a friend encouraged me to visit Hooman's blog to read his thoughts about the possibility of U.S. attacks on Iran. That is where I found the link to Shahram's page.

Added at 2:55 P.M.:
David had asked me to post photos of my garden, so that those of you who are shivering in snow, can enjoy California's green, at least virtually! I don't have a garden, but I do have a patio and a backyard. I also share a courtyard with my neighbors. In general, it is a pretty green area.
Since I am having difficulties with the "Hello" software on my browser, I am posting them using yahoo Photos again. Let me know if you cannot see the pictures in the main post. The oranges are from my small orange tree on the patio. In my Berkeley album, the image titled "Sepeed" is one with my black cat, Sepeed, who is hiding under the tree. Good luck finding her!


The sidebar image is taken from Mahmoud Pakzad's "Old Tehran", Did Publishers, 1994. Thanks to Jahanshah Javid (www.iranian.com) for sharing it.

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