Tuesday, 5 March 2013

A nine-year old boy delivers a proud, touching message of defiance to the Iranian regime

A birthday for a very special dad
My dad was originally the creator of this blog so this post is partly to say that, how much the Iranian government try, they will never stop bloggers like me and my dad, how much they harass, torture, and basically make the fear into normal people… They will never take our freedom. HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAD

I’m pretty sure that post would have made me mist up anyway, but the fact that the special dad in question is a friend of mine and that I know what lies behind it made it particularly poignant.

Sina Motalebi is the Head of Output at BBC Persian, a BBC World Service satellite TV channel broadcast from London. It’s aimed at the Farsi-speaking global diaspora, but its main audience is in Iran, a country currently enjoying the numerous benefits that result from being ruled by fascist theocrats. I recommended Sina for the role of interactive editor at the channel just over four years ago, and then worked with him and his team to launch Nowbat-e-Shoma (Your Turn) – a live daily show which featured phone calls, texts and emails from around the world. To this day, it’s the project/service I’m most proud to have been associated with. (I wrote about it – and Sina - here.)

As I mentioned in that post, Sina was one of the first bloggers in Iran – and is reckoned to be the first person in the world to be arrested (and tortured) for something they wrote on a blog. What I didn’t mention was that Sina fled Iran accompanied by his wife and infant son. His wife, Farnaz, is now a newsreader at BBC Persian and a star back home, and his son, Mani – now 10 - is at school in West London.

On April 21st, 2012, Mani started the Webgard blog, which you can visit here. In fact, he resurrected it, because that was the name of his dad's original blog back in Iran.

Sina must be so proud.

BBC Persian journalists and their relatives back in Iran suffer regular intimidation by that country's disgusting, undemocratic regime, as Word Service editor, Peter Horrocks, revealed in this recent interview on Today. Interesting how all fascist regimes end up attacking the family - it's the institution that scares them the most, because it enables  genuine knowledge to be passed on to the next generation unperverted by frightened,  inadequate, dim-witted, hate-filled thugs.

Our book group discussed Iran Awakening: A Memoir of Revolution and Hope (available here) by the Nobel Peace Prize-winning Iranian human rights lawyer Shirin Ebadi yesterday. Apart from this redoubtable woman's Polly Filla-ish attitude to her poor husband, the bit that annoyed me was her dismissal of people who choose to leave Iran to settle abroad, rather than staying and fighting for their beliefs. Tell that to Hossein Derakhshan, an Iranian-Canadian blogger currently serving nineteen and half years in prison. There, but for the grace of God, goes Sina Motalebi.

“They will never take our freedom.” Indeed, young man.

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