Just after 1230hrs yesterday I was cutting through to the State Courthouse when I noticed the National flag of Iran prior to the Islamic Revolution of 1979 flying along the one way uphill 4th Street spread across almost the entire 600 block in front of the Charlotte City Government Center. In the center of that flag is a lion, sword and rising sun which is very different from the one that is being flown in Iran now and for the past 31 years which has a Sikh-like symbol in the center of it. The work in my bag was a priority but I could not resist the pull of authenticity, a rare sight in our fine Queen City. I rode across the lanes and picked my way through the friendly crowd of one voice demonstrating their freedom of thought and projection. Just on the other side of the human line I dismounted and found the eyes of Nasrin, a woman with thick black hair, light dark eyes and an air of power that was palpable just by paying attention. I introduced myself and asked her directly to tell me what I was witnessing in this peaceful proud demonstration, I had some idea but I wanted to hear Nasrin give me the details. She said with deep interpersonal eye contact and a soft Persian accent that I was seeing and hearing the voice of Iran demanding the end of the Islamic Regime in Iran that has been responsible for such atrocities against humans simply thinking and formulating opinions as to the destiny of their own nation. After thanking her I explained that with her permission I would like to come back in twenty minutes or so with my camera and a note pad to document this powerful energy. Nasrin asked me who I worked for and all I could muster was, "Myself, I write a blog and have for the last two years and roughly four months." My approval was in the form of a real smile, a nod and a firm female hand shake. I wasn't sure what I was doing but I did not see any other local media there so I figured someone had to convey this transfer. My job was done so I retrieved my camera from the stash spot and was back on location in just under the twenty minutes I had predicted. The first thing I did after locking my bike was join in the line of peaceful demonstration, it was on.
The following document is short summation of what I saw, heard, felt and learned over the 75 minutes that I spent talking to people that I had never met.
The action that caught my eye.
The mantra being chanted at this minute was, "Down with the Islamic Republic, Down with Hezbollah, Down with Ahmadinejad"
Nasrin holding a sign and symbol of a recent political murder that took place in Tehran just a few short weeks ago. Nasrin told me that last year 19 year old Arash Rahmanipour was arrested in Tehran at a demonstration in March. While Arash was in Evin Prison he was forced to sign a confession for being a representative of the Old Monarchy. His lawyer was only granted one 15 minute interview during his incarceration where he said that agents of the regime had brought his pregnant sister in front of him and threatened to arrest her unless he signed the confession. Arash walked into his punishment of execution by hanging on 28January2010 unaware that his life was about to end. Nasrin explained that Arash's family found out about his execution on the evening news brought to them by the Iranian National News Agency.
Amir explained to me the significance of this anniversary and how the majority of Iranian citizens want the regime to leave and be replaced with a more secular government. Students are being forced by the regime to go out into the streets in pro demonstration of the present Islamic Republic of Iran. If they refuse their names are being logged for potential later arrest or even worse, reprisal from the Basiji Malitias. For those of you unaware the Basijis are mercenaries hired by the government of Iran to carry out deadly work on the street. Pari told me a story about her sister Farah being arrested and physically abused in Tehran. Her nephew had been arrested as well. Pari wants all goverments and all politcial parties world wide to concentrate of the problem of crimes against humanity in Iran.
I was invited to visit Tehran after this new revolution is over by Rafat, a smiling woman who hopes the present goverment of Iran will be out sooner than later.
Mohan Afshar did not feel comfortable with me taking a picture of him and his fantastic black mustache that he has been growing for four years. He did how ever have a lot of historical information for me related to what had led to the Iranian Islamic Revolution of 1979. We discussed Iran's present place in the world under the leadership of Ahmadinejad and how he is responsible for providing explosives being used in terrorism throughout the middle east. Mohan said the voice will continue until Iran is free.
I was moved by the force of collective human spirit that I witness during this peaceful gathering of concerned American/Iranians. Their energy gave me more education about what is really happening in Iran right now, the country that is surrounded by American occupation/interest in both Iraq and Afghanistan.