I am an Iranian-American, born and raised in the US. I have spent most of my youth in the Appalachian Region of the United States of America, where I learned the simple and honest values of the mountains and the south. In my heart I have no doubt that the United States of America is probably the greatest nation on the face of this earth. I believe that what makes America great as a country and a nation is our ability to determine our own destiny; and that even in the worst of times, we have the ability to freely elect a man or a woman that will lead us back into the promised times (this is the light of hope that has emanated from our nation ever since our Independence, a freedom and independence that I have always wished for Iran). I spent my youth wondering about whom I really am, an American, an Iranian, an Iranian-American, and as a result I spent the first thirty-five years of my life in a dilemma of not knowing who I am.
As I grew older I realized that I am the culmination of my southern upbringing, my Persian (Iranian) heritage, the writings of my great, great, great uncle Jaffer Shirazi On Iran and Patriotism, courage of my mother, the wisdom of my grandmother, and the sadness in the eyes of my grandfather who died in exile in the US.
Here is a brief of how it all started… I have a background in the energy, environmental (sustainability, and remediation), and demining industries; I worked in the energy, environmental, and detection (landmines/unexploded ordinance) sectors. Prior to establishing E&I Technologies Inc. (E&I Group) in 1996 (E&I was established as an offshoot of Ogden Environmental and Energy Services Inc.), I was involved with the environmental programs of US Department of Energy in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. By the time I had established E&I, I had spent years talking to those Iranian-Americans that would listen, discussing the need to change Iran’s behavior through dialog. I believed the Iranian-American community needed to become proactive and that instead of slogans against the government of Iran, we needed to utilize the synergies of our community to implement evolutionary programs that would eventually bring change from within Iran. I believed that Iran could not face another revolution/bloodshed, and that the only way for Iran to be accepted back into the global community was through dialog.
With the election of Mr. Khatami as the president of Iran in 1997, his visit to New York in 1998 and his invitation of Iranian-American businesses to come to Iran and help with the countries advancement (Mr. Khatami’s invitation seemed a lot more sincere than those from his predecessor, former President Rafsanjani), etc… I made a decision to take the Presidents offer and in November of 1998 traveled to Iran with one of my American colleagues to present papers at the first Caspian Energy Conference held in Teheran. This trip would also allow me to evaluate the situation on the ground and see if I should start an operation in Iran.
I still remember my feeling as the plane touched down at Mehrabad Airport; I was overwhelmed and could not stop the tears... the tears that would not leave me until today. The reception was mostly great, Ministers to MP’s promised us the world, except for one MP (he said that we didn’t belong there, and that he would cherish the day that I left the country with my tail between my legs…).
During the month I spent in Iran, I travelled to see some of the country side; however, I spent most of my time walking the streets of Tehran to see how people lived and were treated by the government. I needed to know what to expect if I made the decision to live in Iran!
While sitting on a park bench in northern Tehran one cold afternoon, I had an epiphany that would change my life; I was approached by a well dressed and well spoken girl that could not be more then sixteen years of age, she offered herself to me in exchange for money. I was shocked by what I heard; I sat there that nippy December afternoon talking and trying to understand the reasons why a young girl would turn to prostitution. What I heard in that northern Tehran park made me shudder at the core and led to my decision to start an environmental and demining organization in the Islamic Republic of Iran. I still can hear her words that she was prostituting herself for money to go on a weekend skiing trip. It was then and there, that I realized the impact of this regime on Iran and Iranians; the Islamic Republic has done to Iran in thirty years what the Mongols and Arabs jointly could not accomplish during their occupations of Persia. They had taken away the “nejabat” (closes translation of the term would be “purity of soul”) of the Iranian nation. Over the next seven years I saw how these hypocritical theocrats actually feed on the youth of Iran (prostitution made legal with a few words; I don’t know if those words are to soothe there conscious, or appease God and/or ridicule God).
What I also realized was that the oppression and lack of freedom served on a silver platter to the Iranian nation over the past thirty years has (by design) indoctrinated the people of Iran in the art of deception and lies… this has become a function of survival in the Islamic Republic, the norm has become “JUST DO IT” and then “DENY IT” (drink and deny, don’t fast and say that you do, ask for a bribe and then say you didn’t, promise something and don’t deliver, etc…).
With this in mind, I made a decision to help Iran evolve and maybe to do my part to change what these theocrats had inflicted on my homeland. I told myself that I had come to Iran to make a difference and here was my chance to make a difference, and do my part to make Iran a stronger and better place for Iranians. What I did during the next seven years included but not limited to the proper training of Iranians to perform commercial and humanitarian demining; updating/upgrading of landmine detection and neutralization technologies; and the introduction of innovative risk assessment and stochastic methods that allowed my organization Mine Action Iran (MAI) to successfully clear over 60,000,000 square meters (60 square kilometers) of land in some of the worst mine infested areas of Iran (contaminated with landmines and unexploded ordinance (UXO’)) without a single injury or death.
Concurrently, I established an environmental organization E&I-MKD Corp (Mashal Khazar Darya) that was heavily involved in the implementation of environmental programs, that included but not limited to the implementation of environmental training at a cultural level in rural and urban communities in Iran; as well as implementation of massive environmental projects for the onshore and offshore oil and gas, steel, cement, copper, and pulp & paper sectors of Iran (I also successfully represented Islamic Republic of Iran’s environmental claim against Iraq for impacts associated with the Persian Gulf War at the United Nations).
The précis of this was an effort to help my homeland move towards a free society, a society free for all Iranians, similar to what I have as an American. I tried to accomplish this task by creating jobs (created over 300 jobs paying an average monthly salary of $1,300 USD in a country where the average monthly pay is less than $ 400 USD) in a country where unemployment and even worst, underemployment is rampant; and where this problem has led many towards drugs and prostitution. Today I can say that these efforts have established Mine Action Iran and E&I-MKD Corp the respective vicars of modern demining and environmental/sustainability initiatives in Iran; and a thorn in the sides of many in the Iranian government.
The job was not easy, I spent over seven years in the most deprived regions of Iran dealing with natural and manmade calamities; in Iranian minefields clearing the silent killer of innocents; and an eleven (11) month period being interrogated over 60 times by the security apparatus of the Revolutionary Guard, and Ministries of Petroleum, Defense, and Intelligence on accusations ranging from bribery, being Jewish, working for the Pentagon, CIA, the US State Department, etc…
What people need to realize is that the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran is afraid of freewill. Freewill is the disease that these theocrats’ believe is carried by Iranian-Americans with an interest in Iran. The Islamic Republic believes that freewill can serve as a vector for democracy. If the Islamic Republic thinks that you are a patriot with freewill then they will try to take you out. They will try many means; first they will use economic force, then threats and scare tactics, then they will try to kill you (the Army of the Islamic Republic of Iran tried to kill me by replanting a stolen landmine in the path of a bulldozer that I was driving through a minefield), and if you’re lucky enough not to die then they try to arrest you on false charges of espionage (I left Iran at the behest and with the assistance of some friends within the government prior to the issuance of my arrest warrant in April 2007). Yes it sounds like novel material; however, sadly enough it is true.
The Islamic Republic of Iran (a theocracy which I call a Theatrical Democracy) has no interest in having Iranian-Americans returning to Iran; there only interest in the group is to take what they need from them and then spitting them out. This Theatrical Democracy fears us; because, we can see beyond their theatrics. People outside of Iran need to understand that the policies of the Islamic Republic are set by the Supreme Leader, Mr. Ali Khamenei; the Presidents of Iran serve as the rotating window dressing for the deception of the Iranian people and world community.
I always wondered how one becomes a revolutionary, over the past three years I have found out that most revolutionaries are made by accident. I have spent the past two years via my contacts, lawyers, etc… trying to find out the reason the Islamic Republic wanted me out; to accomplish this task my people finally ended up at the highest level of the Iranian government (the Supreme Leader); the final answer from the office of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s office was that, we don’t want him (Esmail Sohrab Shahmir) here! They also told my people “no more follow up”.
|Recently by Sohrab Rob Shahmir||Comments||Date|
|only if the rulers of Iran loved the Iranian People half as much as they love Hezbollah and the Palestinian cause!!!|
|May 19, 2009|
|نسرین ستوده: زندانی روز||Dec 04|
|Saeed Malekpour: Prisoner of the day||Lawyer says death sentence suspended||Dec 03|
|Majid Tavakoli: Prisoner of the day||Iterview with mother||Dec 02|
|احسان نراقی: جامعه شناس و نویسنده ۱۳۰۵-۱۳۹۱||Dec 02|
|Nasrin Sotoudeh: Prisoner of the day||46 days on hunger strike||Dec 01|
|Nasrin Sotoudeh: Graffiti||In Barcelona||Nov 30|
|گوهر عشقی: مادر ستار بهشتی||Nov 30|
|Abdollah Momeni: Prisoner of the day||Activist denied leave and family visits for 1.5 years||Nov 30|
|محمد کلالی: یکی از حمله کنندگان به سفارت ایران در برلین||Nov 29|
|Habibollah Golparipour: Prisoner of the day||Kurdish Activist on Death Row||Nov 28|