Mr. Ali Khamenei,
I am a first year law student in a Canadian Law School. I lived in Iran until the age of thirteen. My family and I immigrated to Canada in 1997 because of the lack of freedom of expression in Iran. As immigrants, we were not always treated well and we suffered discrimination and were pushed back to work within our own small Iranian community in Toronto. We loved Iran but actions by some Iranians have embarrassed our people at an international level. In this letter, I will explain to you how I have personally suffered as a result of these actions. If you and I, as Iranians do not treat each other well, how can we expect the international community to truly and genuinely respect our people?
One of the latest actions that bring disrepute to all Iranians all over the world is in regards to Blogger Hossein Derakhshan, 35, a dual Canadian-Iranian national. He has been unfairly tried and sentenced on 28 September 2010 to 19 and a half years’ imprisonment on vaguely worded charges relating to national security. He was detained without charge for about 19 months prior to trial and denied regular access to his family and lawyer. Amnesty International believes he is likely held solely for the peaceful expression of his views, and if so should be immediately and unconditionally released.
I have personally seen that in Europe, the situation is even worse for Iranians. In addition, videos of Iranian refugees in places like Greece and Australia speak to the failure of our 1979 revolution. In my opinion, you and your government are partly responsible for ensuring the well-being of all Iranians. Your actions, though it highlights some of the malfunctions in the Iranian culture, have nevertheless followed innocent Iranians everywhere we have sought refuge. Most Europeans and North Americans today look down on Iranians because we have created a bad image of ourselves. We have been intolerant to women, homosexuals, bloggers, religious minorities, racial minorities and almost every other group that is different than the majority.
I was born in Iran but see myself as belonging to the 6.8 billion people on Earth, and yet, the actions of the Iranian government constantly undermine my attempts personally to make a good living. Mr. Khamenei, this is how your actions at the macro level results in problems for an Iranian like me at a micro level. It is time to address the negative image that Iranians have created for us. Iran was the first country in the world and Iranians are a warm and passionate people who have many beautiful cultures. You as an Iranian and selected leader need to promote the positive aspects of our culture. It is easy to shout and be critical of individual bloggers and exploitative foreigners. Maybe it is time to pick the difficult path of self-reformation. Why divide people based on their differences such as religion, race, and way of thinking when we can bring them together through our similarities? We don’t need enemies in this world; we don’t need to shout “death” at others; what we need is to show that we can respect people who think different, act different, and live different than the majority. The strongest people are the most merciful and the kindest.
Releasing Hossein would be a first micro step that would help all Iranians show how we are a kind people. As the leader you are responsible for reforming a positive image for all Iranians especially in Europe and North America. The world watches how we treat one another as Iranians, and they treat us in the same way that we choose to treat each other. Please act in a way that Iranians will be treated better from now on inside and outside of the land where both you and I opened our eyes to this world.