One million first graders start public school in Iran a week ahead of the rest of the students. The first week of their educational careers is spent playing, singing, dancing and remembering those who gave their lives so that they may live in peace and safety.
Like any other people, Iranians crave self-rule, self-expression and a secure life in their country. For more than a hundred years, Iranians have been struggling to establish a system of governance to protect their human rights and secure their control over their natural resources.
It has been a bumpy ride.
The first democratically elected Iranian government was overthrown by a CIA coup in 1953.
What would the Middle East look like today had it not been for U.S. interference? Need I remind anyone of the destruction that the U.S. and Israel have caused throughout the Middle East?
After the CIA coup against Iran, the U.S.-friendly Shah was installed and ruled with an iron fist over the nation. The Israeli government oversaw the Shah’s secret police — SAVAK. Many Iranian students and freethinkers were arrested, imprisoned, tortured and assassinated by SAVAK. This nightmare continued for a quarter of a century, during which the most valued thinkers of the nation were systematically removed from civil society. Many disappeared into the Shah’s jails and were never seen again.
This U.S./Israeli-backed dictatorship was only overturned when a popular uprising in 1979 removed the Shah. However, the young revolution was then militarily attacked by Saddam Hussein, an Iraqi dictator who was supported by the United States and its allies. Eight years of deadly war between Iran and Iraq followed. This war left more than 1 million dead and nearly destroyed Iran and Iraq, and shattered the development of the two countries in every sphere of life. On top of that destruction was an additional 30 years of economic sanctions against Iran.
Despite all of that, the Iranian civil societies — women’s organizations, student organizations, unions and workers and teachers’ organizations — resumed their struggle after the war to build the country according to their visions for what Iran should look like. To this day — against all odds — Iranians continue to organize for their human rights, women’s rights and a better life for their children and the elderly.
Any attack on Iran will destroy the delicate fabric of a society that has tried again and again to reach a representative governance to benefit a nation of mostly children — 18 million Iranians are under 14 years of age.
If you value humanity and human rights, say no to any attack on Iran.
Mozhgan Savabieasfahani is a Ph.D. Visiting Scholar in the School of Public Health.