The person in the photo is missing
He left home and is not back
His mother crying day and night

The person in the photo
His eyes big
His hands fisted, always
The person in the photo, with his blood
Screams on the asphalt
His chest the garden of stranger Tulips

The person in the photo
Passed away in the dreams avenue
I’ll go to his mother today
To say
The person in the photo is me

*By Omran Salahi


Sohrab Arabi was missing since June 15 protests. His family identified his body on July 12 after searching all the hospitals, looking for him at prisions, and seeing photos of many who have been killed at the riots. He was shot in the heart. He was 19.

Read more about Sohrab’s death here.

Watch a video of Sohrab’s mom looking for her son at Evin prison here. (She’s the woman in purple scarf.)

See some photos and a video of his mom mourning at his funeral here. (Disturbing)

More photos and videos of his funeral here.

He was the nephew of my colleague at a radio station I used to work for. It’s hitting closer and closer to heart…


*The lousy translation is by me. Copies of the original poem in Farsi, written by the late Iranian poet Omran Salahi few years ago, was xeroxed along with Sohrab’s photo and carried by the mourners in his funeral today. Many have also posted the photo and the poem in their blogs.

Will we ever be the same again? Will we? Is there a form of therapy that can heal the emotional wounds of around “12 to 24” million people? We are traumatized, all of us who have seen Neda’s last moments (and the rest of the videos about yesterday) are traumatized. I had never experienced the collective pain among my compatriots the way I felt last night. It feels like you have lost a loved one and at the same time you feel humiliated, violated, oppressed, bullied, trashed, and heartbroken. I wish a collective therapy for millions of my people were possible. I hope I’m not offending any American for making this analogy, but I think now I understand how Americans felt when 9/11 happened.

My thoughts are with Roxana Saberi, Iranian American journalist who was convicted of espionage today in Tehran. My thoughts are also with many more Iranian journalists who have been imprisoned in Iran in the past few years. A journalist friend was wondering today why no Iranian journalist has done an independent investigation about the whereabouts of Roxana in the past 6 years that she has been working and living in Iran. I was thinking that in the state of such fear and suppression, you can’t expect anybody to do real investigative journalism in Iran. (Not that there isn’t any good investigative journalism in Iran. Of course there are still many vigorous and courageous journalists in Iran that do good investigative work, but there aren’t many media outlets to publish uncensored challenging stories.) That’s why many Iranian journalists like me work for foreign-funded Iranian media outlets in diaspora. But we can’t do the real thing much either, since we are not there, in the field, to do our job. We sit in our offices outside of Iran and try to play the ropes to produce stories about Iran. We should be careful not to put people’s lives in danger in Iran for contacting us. And here is just part of the sad story of Iranian journalism.

Tonight I also couldn’t get the thought of Zahra Kazemi and Daniel Pearl out of my head. I just hope that one day we will see a world where no journalist is imprisoned, tortured, or killed for doing her job.

(This is a rough translation of one of the recent posts of my Persian blog.)

Unlike the previous elections, I’m not so passionate about the nomination of Khatami for presidency in the forthcoming elections. Honestly, I wished reformists would nominate someone else instead of Khatami. The fact that Khatami has already been the president for 8 years and is now running again does not give me a good feeling. People get a chance, 4 to 8 years, to accomplish something in the capacity of the president, and I think Khatami did really well in his own term. However, I think this is a failure for the reformists’ camp to play Khatami again as their only card. This shows the stagnation of this group (party?) and their backward movement. It shows that reformists could not reorganize, have an influential and useful think tank, and progress. This group that calls itself reformist has not been able to even make any reforms within its own internal organization.

I don’t want to sing the disappointment song and predict that Khatami won’t be or should not be elected. He might very well win more than 20 million votes again. After all, when there is a shortage of key political figures, the charisma of a character like Khatami might help big time. I also don’t say that people should not choose between the “bad” and the “worse.” A pragmatic and realistic person who does not dream about another revolution would admit that the one that is “better” should be chosen anyway.

But what I’m saying is that the third nomination of Khatami is at odds with reform as an ideology. I can see that if we end up with Khatami and Ahmadinejad as our only options, Khatami would win with a landslide. But we should keep in mind, and the close circle around Khatami and his staff who apparently read our blogs should keep in mind, that if Khatami wins, it does not mean a victory or success for the so-called reformists. It would just mean that people didn’t have any better options.

I have a series of questions from anybody who calls himself a reformist in Iran: What do they exactly mean by reform? What do they want to reform? I don’t want to push it like some of my radical friends to ask why the “reformists” are not crossing the red lines and want to keep the status quo. I understand that we are talking about reform, not a revolution. Reform always works within the institutions and only changes some structures from within rather than destroying the whole institution altogether. It might be disgusting for some, but in order to pragmatically and realistically reform, you should negotiate with the power structures, you should give up some causes, and you should accept some undesirable aspects of the status quo. I also think that in the present situation of our country reform is a much more feasible and suitable option comparing to a revolution or the rule of the hardliners. (Well revolution is almost impossible.) But, are the people who call themselves reformists really believe in the concept of reform?

We can’t expect from the reformists to go head to head with the absolute power of the supreme leader or try to eradicate the Islamic nature of the republic or ask for lifting mandatory Hijab. Well reformists want to work within the present governmental system, and supreme leader status, Islam, and Hijab are main parts of the identity of this regime. If you take these things from the regime, nothing will be left from it. But are the reformists going to make changes in other aspects of the current system that are not so much entangled with the identity of the regime? Do they for example have a practical plan to reform the messed up situation of our economy and look after the poor and underprivileged class of our society whom identified more with Ahmadinejad in the previous elections? Do the reformists really have a practical plan to reform our educational system? Any plans for women’s rights? Do they for example have any plans to support the cause of the women’s movement in Iran in practice, a movement which is reformist in nature and not revolutionary? Would you be for example witness to Khatami’s support of One Million Signature Campaign through his actions to meet the campaign’s demands anytime soon?

My guess is that there are no plans. My guts tell me the scope of the status quo, that should be kept the way it is, is very broad for the reformists. My feeling is that there won’t be any radical changes, that is, no new change would happen comparing to the previous eight years of Khatami’s rule. My feeling is that at best case scenario we will experience a similar situation to the previous Khatami era; a period which was good for its own time. But more reform? More change? I don’t think so.

I think those who have a platform to talk should definitely challenge the reformists and ask similar questions from them in the time left to the elections. We should remind the reformists that “reformist” is not just a title; it has an ideology behind it that needs pragmatism and needs action. Reformists should be reminded that repeating the previous Khatami’s era is not enough and does not mean reform. Something beyond that should take place.

Dear reformists, tell us about your plans. Why should we vote for you other than the fact that we should choose the better option between “the bad” and “the worse”? What do you exactly want to reform and how do you want to do it?

I hope we won’t limit our demands to the least possible and won’t give up asking for more…

I’m experiencing new things in my life; like getting sick and being totally on my own, making a soup for myself while my whole body aches, not having anybody to spoil me and take care of me. when i was a child, the best part about catching a cold was the attention my mom would pay to me. i loved it when i would get sick and my mom would take care of me so kindly that i wished i would stay sick a little more. (and it always came with a delicious chicken soup.) i missed her so much today. i just closed my eyes and imagined her holding me in her arms. i missed putting my head on her chest and being caressed by her.

p.s. to make it even better, i asked my roommate to put the soup in the fridge after it gets cooler. (i was too sore that i wanted to go to bed, the soup was too hot and he was hanging around in the kitchen.) i came out of my room this noon and saw the soup still lying there on the kitchen counter. it had milk in it so i threw it out. will eat a canned soup today!

It might sound silly, but I was watching a commercial on TV and when the guy kissed the girl romantically I realized how much I miss being held, caressed, and kissed sensationally. Then I thought I wouldn’t be missing the feeling if I hadn’t moved to London.

I know I always have a home back in the U.S. with all the love one can get in this world, but I have to confess I’ve had cold feet a few times recently about going back. It feels good that I have a decent job and a residency status here. I’m kinda enjoying not to live a student life anymore. But that’s about it, there’s nothing more to it for me here, while there in the States lives the man whom for the first time I felt like being able to and desiring to spend the rest of my life with.

I’m confused. I don’t know how to choose between these two worlds. I know nothing is more important than loving and being loved, but at the same time I know I’m not a risk taker and I’m afraid of not being able to find a decent job in the States.* Part of me wants to remain where I am and keep the job, and part of me wants to quit right at this moment and go back home. One comes with lonesome nights not having anybody (well better to say not having your beloved) to hold you, and one comes with the fear of not being able to work and becoming a housewife with all its damaging effects (particularly for me.)

I’m torn between the two worlds. But nonetheless, that guy in the commercial kissed that girl so romantically. Now I will be longing for such a kiss and will be down for a while :(

*I just should add that I can’t go back to Iran any more. So, ironically, that option is out and at least I’m not dealing with choosing between three countries! I’ve already kissed the dream of going back to Iran goodbye and won’t be back to my country for a long time.

I looked at the photos of my friends in Florida and I realized how much I miss Florida. I have so many bad memories from Florida that will haunt me for the rest of my life, but still, the mother nature in Florida gave me a great sense of tranquility and security. I had my own lake where I could always go to whenever I felt blue. The short walk to the lake was enough to make me calm. The sun would give me energy, and the green would just lighten my heart. The beaches were only about 2 hours drive-with-your-own-car-in-the-highway away. What would be considered an expensive summer vacation for others was a day trip for us to different beaches in the east and west of Florida.

I feel I’m being suffocated in London. The commute to the work mostly takes place underground, then I’m stuck inside the building at work for more than 11 hours and then I’m back to the underground and then to my apartment. The weather is often cold and I’m biologically very sensitive to the cold weather, so going for a walk in a park far away from my home is out of question at this time of year. I just feel like my body is drowning in a swamp.

Speaking of swamp, looking at my friend’s photos reminded me of the “swamp” and the whole “gator” stuff at UF (my university). I suddenly missed all those cheap bars in Gainesville. I missed my friends with whom I would go to the very few good restaurants that one could find there. I missed going to our latest discovery, The Common Grounds, with its hipster-style Karaoke nights on Mondays. (Yes, I sang Creep with Annie there once!) I even missed having pancakes with Annie in Perkins and our long chats there.

And speaking of the things I’ve missed about Florida reminds me of the courtyard in front my home on campus, and the peaceful life I had with Reza, the cooking and sex and laughter, and the companionship.

One of the biggest pities of my life would be the fact that I was struggling with major depression almost the entire time that I lived in Florida. I now look back at those times and realize how much more I would have enjoyed those days, had I not been struck by depression.

I’m now very worried about going back to that depression stage again. In Gainesville at least i had a lake , I will not have even a hole or a well here to dig my head into and shout when I feel the pressure to.

I’m trying hard, so hard, to connect to the people and the new environment. But it seems like it simply is not working. I am disoriented. I feel safe that finally I have a residency status, that I am considered as a person with full rights here, that I am not imprisoned to the borders of this country and I can leave and come back whenever I want to. I am also happy that the records of my unsuccessful marriage would not follow me here in England. But still, something big is missing here.

After thinking about the missing element for weeks, all I can say is that I need a community to belong to, and I’ve lost all my ties to my previous communities. In Florida the women’s studies department and my friends (even the Iranian ones) were my community. In the U.S. I had a big community of friends who were spread all over the States but still considered me part of the circle of friends and we had our own way of keeping a community. I also had my community of women’s rights activists who were mainly in Iran but I was working with them closely.

I’ve tried different ways to make or belong to a community here, but it hasn’t happened so far. That’s why my heart aches and I feel nostalgic when I remember or see good things about my life in the U.S. It all reminds me of the communities I belonged to and the sense of disorientation I have here in London.

It’s scary not to have a community, very scary. I hadn’t experienced the horrible feeling before….

I hate London. I miss Reza. I miss my friends. I miss Annie…

My friend Nazli finally got the OK from Hossein Derakhshan’s sister, Azadeh Derakhshan, to publicly announce that Hossein Derakhshan, one of the first Iranian bloggers, was arrested in the afternoon of November 1, in Tehran.

I am quoting this news from Nazli Kamvari, a friend of Hossein Derakhshan and an Iranian blogger living in Toronto, who has been directly in touch with Hossein’s sister and just wrote about this news in her Persian blog.

My understanding is that Hossein’s family has been under pressure from the authorities not to talk about Hossein’s arrest and not to get a lawyer for him. So, it is understandable that they are not talking to the media. But we at least can assure both the Persian and global blogospher, who were previously in doubts about Hossein’s arrest, that he’s really arrested.

Hossein has gone through various changes in his politics and he has rubbed many activists the wrong way, including myself. (I personally don’t approve his politics and we have had couple of fierce arguments and fights in the past few months.) However, we should not have double standards when we deal with human rights. Any human being should be entitled to freedom of expression and should have access to an attorney while in jail. I hope human rights advocates start campaigning for Hossein Derakhshan.

Update: I personally talked to his sister, too. She is very worried about Hossein. We should be careful with the way we spread the news not to have a negative effect. Absolutley no neocon propaganda shit.

Globe and Mail: Blogger’s family confirms his arrest

Police moved in quickly, Goodman said, and Salazar, who was taping the altercation, found herself backed up against a car. Salazar shouted, “Press, press,” Goodman said, but the producer was forced to the ground, and had a boot placed in her back.

‘Democracy Now!’ host back at work day after arrest

And CNN said more than 260 were arrested outside the republicans’ convention, 150 of which charged with felony.

Watch the film of Amy Goodman’s arrest here.

Sad days for American “democracy” and first amendment,  isn’t it?