Iranian You

Are you watching? Are you listening? How do YOU feel?


Iranian You
by Leila Radan

I am part Iranian, part Danish. Mention of my Iranian blood stops people in their tracks these days. It used to be something that most outside our San Francisco bubble avoided. "Iranian". Not anymore.

The world is watching, not enough, but the world is finally watching.

So people want to know how I feel. What is this conflict about? How am I impacted as an Iranian woman?

Yes, they hear the catch word of the day, "Iranian", and they want to know how I feel.


I was on Facebook the moment the video of the now-well-known-then-unknown-and-nameless-woman Neda's death was released. I watched her die.

I saw footage of Basijis on rooftops shooting at the crowd beneath... with real bullets... casually walking from one side to the other to shoot some more... and kill some more.

I witnessed a man receive a savage beating by Basijis as he screamed at the top of his lungs... not for mercy... not for help... just screams, shrieks of pain, as he lay bloodied on the floor, vulnerable, desperate, only to be stuffed into the trunk of a police car as an officer screamed at him to put his leg in so that he could shut the trunk.

Elsewhere a woman... maybe it was a man?... knelt by a puddle of blood on the sidewalk, crying, her... or his... hands soaked in that blood.

In the middle of the street, in broad daylight for all to see, a shirtless and bloodied man was dragged like an animal by several riot officers who'd beat him mercilessly along the way. At the end of the footage they stood him up against a car but he could barely stand, his head fell back and I caught a glimpse of his face.

A group of women huddled around a child I could not see but whom I know was beaten by a Basiji, a 7-year-old, as his mother shrieked.

In other footage shot some days later a 10-year-old was killed and, mixed in with primal screams of anger, pain and shock, were chants of "Mikosham, mikosham, an ke baradaram kosht." I will kill, I will kill he who killed my brother.

Sometimes I couldn't see anything. It was dark but I heard the chants of "Allah-o Akbar" on Tehran's rooftops.

Once I also heard shrieks of terror as Basijis invaded a home in the dark, terrorizing its innocent inhabitants.

Later I learned that this became a new nightime norm accompanied by the practice of ground based militia men shooting blindly up into the night sky... at those chanting on the rooftops.

Demonstrators were arrested and hauled off to the feared Evin prison.

Testimonials and articles of the now expected torture leaked out as we received news that our cousin's son was taken... to Evin.

I read vivid descriptions of beatings that left a college student unrecognizable. Every tooth in his mouth, save four, was smashed. His body bruised and broken beyond description. His anus ruptured from the repeated rape he was subjected to. His spirit broken.

I barely made it through accounts of a brother being made to watch his sister undergo repeated gang rapes.

I learned that one of our passionate and charismatic organizers of protests here in San Francisco was a survivor of the student uprising of '99 and lived through imprisonment and terrifying torture himself. I tried to read his accounts. I couldn’t.

I received word from a friend, a recent arrival from Tehran, that her cousin's friend was detained and raped by so many of these savages that she lost count.

There are more examples I can cite but I think you get the picture.

So how do I feel? What are my views?

Here. Come in. Take a look and see because I am adrift in an endless sea of images that haphazardly come and go and rock me up and down as I flail about, drowning in the tears I shed for Neda as I watch the blood pour out of her chest and every cavity of her frozen face but then shots ring about from up above and whizz sharply past my ears and in an attempt to erase all I see and hear I empty my mind only to watch that space fill immediately with the shrieks, the bloodcurdling shrieks, of the tortured man that disappeared into the trunk of a car and I put my hands up to my face but they are soaked in blood and my heart races and I can barely breathe and as I gasp for air I see the dragged man's face as he gasped for life whilst being held up against that car in Tehran's streets, streets that resonated and carried the bloodcurdling shrieks of the wronged 7 year-old's broken mother towards the crowd that held the dead 10 year-old as blood dripped on their every scream and ALLAH-O AKBAR rang through the night sky in spite of the bullets that still whizzed by as my people were taken away in the dark, in the light of day, it didn't matter because they were taken away to Evin, to torture and rape and beatings and an endless nightmare that was not my reality and in its very distance made my heart ache even more.

I ache.

I ache so much that I sometimes forget I do.

Some days I cry. I cry so much I cannot function and I can barely care for my children and yet I do but I don't remember and I wonder if I kissed them enough, if I held them enough, if I love them enough through my tears...

And then I laugh and I cannot connect to the pain and my mind is empty and the break is needed and welcomed, especially by my children, but then guilt sets in because Michael Jackson died and the world got distracted and the world is silent and forgetting and I want to scream and with my shrieks the visions return and the pain and the reality that my safety is not theirs to hold, yet, in Iran take hold of me once more and...

So now I ask, do you really want a history lesson from me? Do you want me to analyze and compare the Green Revolution of '09 to the Revolution of '79 and theorize that Iran lies in a limbo that shall lead it to a North Korea-like state or, at best, a Chinese way of governance? To coldly analyze the people and their "blind" courage? Do you want me to regurgitate numerous reports that have me hopeful one second and crying in despair the next?

Well, let me tell you what I want. Me... Iranian... wife... lover... friend... mother... daughter... human... flesh that bleeds... heart that beats... tears that burn... soul that aches... you.


... and straight from Iran an unnamed sister said it best. "I see freedom as freedom of choice, as having the opportunity to choose and being aware that choice does exist. I see freedom as being a free thinker, free to take action and free to bring those thoughts and actions together under the condition that they do not take away the rights of others."

So now please tell me this. Are you watching? Are you listening? How do YOU feel?

** San Francisco, see you @ the Mega Rally, July 25th, Civic Center Plaza, 12-4 pm. Iranians & non-Iranians unite! For more Mega Rally listings around the world go to **


Leila Radan

One more thank you...

by Leila Radan on

Rebecca-  Thank you... and yes, we WILL overcome!


Sinibaldi- Lovely...


Rosie/Roxy/Roshan- Thank you very much for your kind words.... with this post I have been fortunate to get many lovely comments so I am grateful... just trying my bit to spread the word though I wish I could do more.


Gol-dust-  I am jumping in to comment because of you.  Forgive me my not having written earlier but I was unable to due to some shoulder pain affecting my arm's mobility.


I read your entire and original comment and am SO sorry for your brother's loss.  I have lost a brother too, not to murder, but I understand that there are some wounds that time simply does not heal and for that and so much more my heart goes out to you and your family.  I was touched that you shared what you did. Hopefully we can reclaim our country, our freedom, and it will be in the name of all those that gave their lives so that we could be free... humbled by your brother's actions and by what you have all lived I am....


Very touching!

by gol-dust on

I truly enjoyed your article.

rosie is roxy is roshan

Dear Leila /ps Sinibaldi

by rosie is roxy is roshan on

Leila, I'm not Iranian so I won't tell you how I feel about the situation. Just about the piece. This was one of the most magnificent pieces of writing I've ever seen here. I don't know why people here are so stingy with their praise. And their responses in general. They used to be more forthcoming, long ago. I think the blogging community has become too big, and this has made people shy.

Or selfish.


ps Sinibaldi, at last the mysterious Sinibaldi lover has finally been forced to reveal him/herself as Sinabldi himself. I should've known.

You avatar all his own.


In the reason that care....

by Sinibaldi on

I try to discover a whole day and so, when a cloud disappears, a secret appears in my mind recalling the young soul and the world of your dreams... Francesco Sinibaldi


Very moving

by Rebecca on

Thank you! Your article brought tears to my eyes. I feel the same...

We shall overcome the injustice...

 See you in Mega Rally in SF!

Leila Radan

Thank You...

by Leila Radan on

Well, I normally don't jump into the fray anymore as I had been advised not to seeing how my very first post here was quite the chaotic one down in the comment section but, alas, Nader Jan I cannot see you here and not respond!


As always I thank you for your kind, kind words and underserving (by me) kind and sweet way in which you view me!  I have done nothing, just FBing it, but I feel that all of us as a collective doing what little we can amounts to something enormous and beautiful in its unity and solidarity and I too am proud to have you as a friend and to stand side by side with you as Freedom Fighters!  FO SHO!  ;-)  See you on FB as we all keep on keeping on!


Hamsade Ghadimi, thank you for your kind words and yes, we will show them and we WILL be free... sooner than the world thinks of this I am sure!

hamsade ghadimi


by hamsade ghadimi on

thanks for the article. that's the same way i feel. we'll show these thugs tomorrow how the world feels about their callous and obscene behavior.


Oh Leila...

by Nader on

You made me cry!

Thank you so much for a wonderful article.

I am genuinely proud to call you a friend. Time and time again, you prove your patriotism to me and I can't thank you enough for all you have done so far.