Iranian You

Written by FCJ Editor. Posted in Human Interest, Opinion, Politics

Published on July 22, 2009 with No Comments

Leila Radan

By Leila Radan

July 22, 2009

I am part Iranian, part Danish. Mention of my Iranian blood stops people in their tracks these days. It used to be something that most outside our San Francisco bubble avoided. “Iranian”. Not anymore.

The world is watching, not enough, but the world is finally watching.

So people want to know how I feel. What is this conflict about? How am I impacted as an Iranian woman?

Yes, they hear the catch word of the day, “Iranian”, and they want to know how I feel.


I was on Facebook the moment the video of the now-well-known-then-unknown-and-nameless-woman Neda’s death was released. I watched her die.

I saw footage of Basijis on rooftops shooting at the crowd beneath… with real bullets… casually walking from one side to the other to shoot some more… and kill some more.

I witnessed a man receive a savage beating by Basijis as he screamed at the top of his lungs… not for mercy… not for help… just screams, shrieks of pain, as he lay bloodied on the floor, vulnerable, desperate, only to be stuffed into the trunk of a police car as an officer screamed at him to put his leg in so that he could shut the trunk.

Elsewhere a woman… maybe it was a man?… knelt by a puddle of blood on the sidewalk, crying, her… or his… hands soaked in that blood.

In the middle of the street, in broad daylight for all to see, a shirtless and bloodied man was dragged like an animal by several riot officers who’d beat him mercilessly along the way. At the end of the footage they stood him up against a car but he could barely stand, his head fell back and I caught a glimpse of his face.

A group of women huddled around a child I could not see but whom I know was beaten by a Basiji, a 7-year-old, as his mother shrieked.

In other footage shot some days later a 10-year-old was killed and, mixed in with primal screams of anger, pain and shock, were chants of “Mikosham, mikosham, an ke baradaram kosht.” I will kill, I will kill he who killed my brother.

Sometimes I couldn’t see anything. It was dark but I heard the chants of “Allah-o Akbar” on Tehran’s rooftops.

Once I also heard shrieks of terror as Basijis invaded a home in the dark, terrorizing its innocent inhabitants.

Later I learned that this became a new nightime norm accompanied by the practice of ground based militia men shooting blindly up into the night sky… at those chanting on the rooftops.

Demonstrators were arrested and hauled off to the feared Evin prison.

Testimonials and articles of the now expected torture leaked out as we received news that our cousin’s son was taken… to Evin.

I read vivid descriptions of beatings that left a college student unrecognizable. Every tooth in his mouth, save four, was smashed. His body bruised and broken beyond description. His anus ruptured from the repeated rape he was subjected to. His spirit broken.

I barely made it through accounts of a brother being made to watch his sister undergo repeated gang rapes.

I learned that one of our passionate and charismatic organizers of protests here in San Francisco was a survivor of the student uprising of ’99 and lived through imprisonment and terrifying torture himself. I tried to read his accounts. I couldn’t.

I received word from a friend, a recent arrival from Tehran, that her cousin’s friend was detained and raped by so many of these savages that she lost count.

There are more examples I can cite but I think you get the picture.

So how do I feel? What are my views?

Here. Come in. Take a look and see because I am adrift in an endless sea of images that haphazardly come and go and rock me up and down as I flail about, drowning in the tears I shed for Neda as I watch the blood pour out of her chest and every cavity of her frozen face but then shots ring about from up above and whizz sharply past my ears and in an attempt to erase all I see and hear I empty my mind only to watch that space fill immediately with the shrieks, the bloodcurdling shrieks, of the tortured man that disappeared into the trunk of a car and I put my hands up to my face but they are soaked in blood and my heart races and I can barely breathe and as I gasp for air I see the dragged man’s face as he gasped for life whilst being held up against that car in Tehran’s streets, streets that resonated and carried the bloodcurdling shrieks of the wronged 7 year-old’s broken mother towards the crowd that held the dead 10 year-old as blood dripped on their every scream and ALLAH-O AKBAR rang through the night sky in spite of the bullets that still whizzed by as my people were taken away in the dark, in the light of day, it didn’t matter because they were taken away to Evin, to torture and rape and beatings and an endless nightmare that was not my reality and in its very distance made my heart ache even more.

I ache.

I ache so much that I sometimes forget I do.

Some days I cry. I cry so much I cannot function and I can barely care for my children and yet I do but I don’t remember and I wonder if I kissed them enough, if I held them enough, if I love them enough through my tears…

And then I laugh and I cannot connect to the pain and my mind is empty and the break is needed and welcomed, especially by my children, but then guilt sets in because Michael Jackson died and the world got distracted and the world is silent and forgetting and I want to scream and with my shrieks the visions return and the pain and the reality that my safety is not theirs to hold, yet, in Iran take hold of me once more and…

So now I ask, do you really want a history lesson from me? Do you want me to analyze and compare the Green Revolution of ’09 to the Revolution of ’79 and theorize that Iran lies in a limbo that shall lead it to a North Korea-like state or, at best, a Chinese way of governance? To coldly analyze the people and their “blind” courage? Do you want me to regurgitate numerous reports that have me hopeful one second and crying in despair the next?

Well, let me tell you what I want. Me… Iranian… wife… lover… friend… mother… daughter… human… flesh that bleeds… heart that beats… tears that burn… soul that aches… you.


… and straight from Iran an unnamed sister said it best. “I see freedom as freedom of choice, as having the opportunity to choose and being aware that choice does exist. I see freedom as being a free thinker, free to take action and free to bring those thoughts and actions together under the condition that they do not take away the rights of others.”

So now please tell me this. Are you watching? Are you listening? How do YOU feel?

Leila Radan is a blogger for over four years, a writer, actress, model and yoga teacher. As an Iranian-American, she is eager to do what little she can to help her people’s cause. She is working on her first book and currently resides in San Francisco.

**Iranian and non-Iranian citizenry of San Francisco, the greater Bay Area & Northern California PLEASE attend our Mega Rally, July 25th, Civic Center Plaza from 12-4 pm.  For a list of all the worldwide rallies please go to**

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