The Toronto-based Iranian Queer Organization has issued an urgent appeal by the “Homosexual Students of Universities in Iran.” Xtra.ca was not able to confirm that the letter was written by this group, but we’re passing it on for your interest.
Open letter by the Network of Homosexual University Students of Iran to the international community
The painful incidents of the past few days reached their peak today. On Jun 20, the Islamic regime carried its violations of human rights of the past 30 years further. The people’s desire to choose their government peacefully in a fair election was frustrated by the regime and the Supreme Leader with deception and imposition of force. This led to a silent protest after the election results shocked the whole country. In the streets of Tehran, miles and miles of tolerant, calm, and resolved masses, about three million strong, confronted the rigged election. This peaceful yet determined protest was met with brutal force by the regime’s strongmen, shooting from rooftops and windows.
What the people of Iran want is democracy and free elections even if these are secured within the framework of an Islamic Republic. But apparently, an Islamic Republic is unlikely to give way to democracy. Reports of the dead and wounded in last week’s attacks on civilians vary, but facts are available through eyewitness accounts, images captured on cell phones and cameras, and messages typed online. Most significant is not our numbers, but the fact that we are being shot down in the streets in front of everyone, or being cut open in the detention centers where the protesters are being taken. Video clips and photos displaying killing and wounding, slitting of throats or tearing of bodies require no captions.
Strongmen and military forces are attacking civilians, using all sorts of weapons from boiling water to bullets. The basij, plain-clothes cultural police recruited to enforce religious morality, are now attacking people in their homes at night.
The people are still calm and determined. They have vowed to take back their stolen votes and to stop the government’s fraud with their bodies. Since the Supreme Leader announced the election results as a definitive victory this Friday and ordered the people off the streets, the demonstrations have been perceived as open war on the legitimacy of the regime itself. Tehran was a bloodbath today. Other large cities report assaults and military attacks on civilians; there are many fatalities.
In the hands of the government today, people’s lives are as subjected to horrible violence, as is their hope for democracy and a just society. Following the Islamic regime’s crackdown on university dormitories on the first three nights, five student activists — Mobian Ehterami, Kasra Sharafi, Kambiz Sho’a’ee, Fatemeh Baratee, and Mohsen Eemani — were killed. The rest of the students murdered and wounded have not yet been named. By now, all outside Iran have had a chance to see images of the people’s silent screams and the torn and bleeding bodies of the same protestors. Those who were arrested or kidnapped and released wrote accounts of the horrors they experienced. Still we fear the grave reality is not yet understood by outsiders. We know that our realities can sound like passages from an Eastern tale. For this reason, queer students in Iran feel compelled to tell of these tragic measures to the world and to stand witness. As we mourn the loss of innocent protesters and worry about the fate and whereabouts of those who have been arrested and not yet released, we are proud of the patient, determined long lines of people displaying the most amazing face of a society which remains refined in the presence of utterly brutal circumstances. We are united in this and we are one voice demanding democracy. Those of us who are alive today live by chance. This calm and refined crowed is devastated and distressed today. We live in fear and we anticipate the worst.
If Ahmadinejad backed by the Supreme Leader managed a coup against the elected president of Iran Mir Hosein Musavi, and seeks to divert the course of democracy, our hope and our goal is to not allow this to happen. Now that the Assembly of Guardians has turned down the people’s demand for new elections, the fear is that if the protests are crushed, the regime will oppress individual freedoms and civil rights much more harshly than before. The Islamic regime of Iran, with its history of human rights violations, suppression of minorities and targeting of homosexuality by threat of execution, has chosen to repress democratic aspirations and demolish civil institutions in order to further its control of people’s lives in a widespread, veiled brutality. This will culminate in the wounding of Iranian society as whole and from there it will compromise human rights symbols around the world.
The homosexual community of Iran has been living under harsh conditions of harassment and fear. We identify with the pain the people endured this last week; those who fought back tears and kept calm under attacks and assaults in which silence was the most effective or only shield. These days, the government is dismissing demands for justice, opening fire on people, and calling them “less then dust,” “dirt,” “dirty” and “fags,” eliciting years of dual oppression in the mind of homosexual community. Iranian queers have been struggling with the merciless oppressive regime for years; we know very well what it means to endure cruelty. In recent days, the Islamic regime has been treating people in the same way it has treated the queer community over the past three decades. It is with this understanding in mind and with a hope for a fair and free future based on equality that we fight side by side, hand in hand against the dictator. We urge the international LGBT community to hear our voice and hear the people of Iran in their demand for new elections. We ask the international LGBT community to assist us in alerting the world of the cruelties and the killings taking place in Iran during these days. We fear that in the days to come, if the dictator wins, a generation — our generation — will simply be eliminated.
These days, the queer movement of Iran is alongside the people’s movement. We are certain that the death of democracy in Iran will sooner or later mean the death of all humanity. We are certain that in the denial of civil and individual rights — as Ahamdinejad did in his first speech after his second round of his appointment to power, calling all protesters “thieves,” “ruffians”, and “fags” — all hopes for a civil society will be wiped out. Yet we live with the hope of rescuing Iran from the spread of fascism. On the fourth day of the silent resistance, one protester held a placard pronouncing: I’m not afraid of death, my fear is of life … three days has passed already. Equality, social justice, respect for different ethnicities, religions, languages, and sexual minorities are indeed possible, if people are not denied their rights within the framework of democracy.
We ask the international community, the international LGBT community, and human rights organizations or the world to be watchful of the atrocities in the streets of Iran today, to respect the Iranian people’s vote and their wish to live in a democratic society, and to refuse to recognize Ahmadinejad as Iran’s elected president until a new election is held in the presence of UN monitors. We ask the international community to support people of Iran through diplomatic pressure and UN intervention.
We ask the international community to stand by us and to urge governments to respect the Iranian people and their vote, to refuse to recognize Ahmadinejad as Iran’s president until we have the opportunity to elect our president with our own votes. What we want is a new election. The people are resolved to take back their vote. For the people of Iran, particularly for the queer community and all other minorities, this is the only possible way forward.
Today the Iranian people are relying on their own capacity to resist and assert their quest for justice. This will not happen without the support of the international community.
Praised be the day when Iran is responsive and responsible for all its children and citizens.
In the name of freedom and social justice,
Homosexual Students of Universities in Iran
June 20, 2009