Monday, February 26, 2007

Discovery a City 40 Feet below Ground!

Iran Cultural Heritage News Agency (CHN):
The archeologists working on sites in Noosh Abad have found corridors excavated in a depth of 40 feet (13 meters).

Zahra Sarukhani, team chief archeologist, told CHN: “using the water reservoir of the city we have reached the lower levels of this city. At the end of the reservoir there is a wide corridor that is the entrance to the lower levels spaces. At the end of this corridor we have found several other corridors excavated by hand at 33 to 40 ft (11 to 13 meters) below the ground.“

She added that team has found several rooms and saloons of different sizes some with seats carved out of stones in them. Each room had been illuminated by candles or torches, whose bases and stands have been found. She said that rooms all are connected to each other through corridors and residents of Noosh Abad had installed sanitation system in them as well; preparing them as shelters for long periods of times.

Archeologists believe that residents of Noosh Abad had constructed their city at three levels; one on the ground and two lower levels. Thus they were able to protect their precious property and lives from bandits and foreign invaders. Iran Cultural Heritage Organization plans to open the site to tourists and visitors in near future. People of Noosh Abad seized to live in the city 100 years ago.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

At Best Illiterate, At Worst Criminally Ignorant

While weblog has provided many with an instrument of expressing themselves, internet has provided them with an audience. Thus there is no surprise that we are witnessing forming a new group of young people that might think of themselves as intellectuals. The young intellectuals are either former journalists or students. They either are graduate students or work in a profession and some have established a new business that others refer to it as: “human rights business.” They write, they talk and they analyze. In media they are referred to as Iranian activists, Iranian student leaders and former journalist.

There is no standard here, in some cases a few have been troublemakers and nuisance back home, some other have been imprisoned and came abroad during their leaves and in most cases they just left Iran like many other young Iranians to pursue better opportunities or to continue their studies. Few actually were threatened or were in trouble.

From hundreds of blogs written regularly by Iranians abroad, few deal with Iran’s issues theoretically or pragmatically. Most are limited to personal memories of individuals or authorities. Most writings often include personal attacks or insolent words. Bloggers and self acclaimed intellectuals argue over concepts such as feminism and sexual orientation of their readers. A good deal of writing is consumed by self-justification. Few here or there actually offer an insight or a solution. To the best of this author’s knowledge few has offered anything more than gossips or common prejudice. One wonders what would be gained by these.

While bloggers use names such as Mandela and Gandhi, they never offer any historical information about their political careers or strategies. They rarely have shared with their audience the foundations of a democratic society, examples of judiciary mechanisms or the history of civil rights campaigns and women rights campaigns in other countries. The history and lessons of history are completely absent. For bloggers history begins with them and ends with them.

For them being right or wrong is not defined by behavior or achievements, it is defined by beliefs. Thus there are some right things that must be done under any circumstances and some wrong things that must be avoided at all costs. To top this all this new generation of Iran’s intelligentsia is utterly and gallingly na├»ve. A great example is their reaction to documentaries on Iran that usually draw a black and dark image of Iran, the most recent one is the case of Canadian TV show on Iran’s homosexuals.

While this show in an extravagant example of prejudice and mercenary journalism draws a rather ugly picture from Iran, some bloggers just shrugged their shoulders and said: “these are facts, facts must be told!” No one pays attention to the immediate danger of war, or military action against Iran. No one mentions that in reality Iran has been singled out in the region. No one asks why there is not such a documentary about Egypt or Saudi or even Turkey! No one thinks that such programs never say all the facts, including the one that Iran’s public has much more pressing concerns right now.

One wonders, one indeed wonders what the gain of these stories is. It seems these bloggers not only neglect to learn from their own mistakes but also forget 1980’s. Why they don’t look at history books about Iran in the libraries. Do they know that in every book about Iran-Iraq war published before 1991, Iraq use of chemical weapons had not been mentioned? Even those that mentioned it added that it is according to Iranian accusations! Only after Operation Desert Storms, every single book mentions Saddam’s crimes matter-of-factly.

These are facts too, there are many more about Iran. To sit in a safe corner in Canada, the United States or Europe, when bombs are being prepared to target Tehran and shrug shoulders to escape one’s responsibility is not a devotion to “telling facts”. It just shows an intelligentsia increasingly detached from realities in Iran, ignorant of consequences of their actions and illiterate of historical facts and realities. It is sad to see like 1970’s Iranian intellectuals are still a self-absorbed bunch with no idea of the realities that their people face in their daily lives basing all their claims to intelligence on their presumed righteousness. If this is not criminal ignorance, then what it is?

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Abbe Pierre; An Anti-Poverty Warrior

Few people are blessed to fight on the right side of all battles. Abbe Pierre was one of them. A French priest who fought courageously in resistance during WWII devoted his post war life to combat poverty. Presidents of Republic from General De Gaulle to Jacques Chirac praised him, decorated him and listened to him criticizing them in no compromising terms for their inefficiencies in fighting poverty.

He certainly had a gift for drawing attention to the cruelties of poverty. He helped people to feel good fighting poverty (or as economists say: to gain positive marginal utility) and gave politicians some real incentive to do so; avoiding public mortification by the most popular figure in France. Popular support became his major source of success. Public reaction to his call in February 1954[1] to help the homeless in an unusually cold winter was a high mark of efforts against poverty and certainly a proud moment in the history of France. Personal donations reached 500 million francs; National Assembly voted 10 billion more to be spent on housing the poor.

He was truly a warrior in the crusade against poverty. The legacy of this 20th century priest will be much needed in 21st century. Poverty has been, is and will be the most evil phenomenon that human kind is confronting in this earthly voyage. Abbe Pierre certainly knew how to make people sense the opportunity cost of delaying combating it.

[1] There is a movie about the events of this day: Hiver 54 Abbe Pierre, 1989. It introduced Abbe Pierre to Iranians. It was broadcasted a few times from Iran’s national TV in late 1990s.

Friday, February 09, 2007

The Nightmares We Share

It was April, the most gorgeous month of the year; earth was covered by fresh green grass and wild flowers. Trees were blooming and apple orchards looked like a carpet of white and pink colors. A pleasantly warm sun was shining and sky was so peacefully blue. It was one of those days that God takes pride in his creation. Amir, Maziar, Hamid and I were walking up the road, 4 middle school students we were 13 years old. Nature was beautiful.

A sharp noise and then far away explosions…angry air defense guns began to fire… And out of sudden the peace was but an illusion. The reality was war; somewhere in east thick columns of smoke blackened the beautiful horizon. Hamid said: “today they got Tehran’s refinery” somewhere a low flying Mig broke the sound barrier. War was reality; war was all we knew.

I still remember that day. How could I forget? In my dreams I am but a teenager walking down a road by an apple orchard with my friends, and there are airplanes, missiles and bombs hanging from sky and we are wondering when they would fall down. I am 32 years old now; my childhood is ages and ages ago. But I still have the same nightmares, waking up happy that bombs did not fall that night.

Nikahang Kowsar an Iranian cartoonist and reporter who lives in Canada wrote yesterday: “last night I dreamt of being in Tehran in a shelter and bombs were falling ....what an ugly nightmare.” He is not alone; many have experienced the same nightmares: many who are in their late 20’s or early 30’s, many who are now in their 40’s, women who are in their 50’s. Millions of Iranians share the same nightmares.

For one it is a charge up the hill and machine guns firing, for one is boot camp and then explosions, for others are missiles, bombs, shelters and those moments when death and destruction were hanging over one’s head. In our dreams we all are children wondering when bombs would fall.

We still open papers to read about bombers waiting to bomb, missiles waiting to be fired, politicians ignoring all calls to diplomacy and humanity dreaming of victories, of using their brute force and their mighty Armada to please their vanity, to prove their righteousness. But bombs would fall on children walking by apple orchards wondering how beautiful life is.