One of the speakers at the United National Antiwar Coalition (UNAC) conference in Stamford, Ct., was Leila Zand, Program Director, Middle East & Civilian Diplomacy, Fellowship Of Reconciliation. She said that rather than sharing her own views on the dangers of a war on Iran, she had asked friends in Iran what they would say. She read the following message that they sent her:
To all the wonderful peacemakers in national peace conference
To all of our brothers and sisters in the beautiful world
We are sending you the message of peace and friendship from Iran, the land of love and poetry, friendship and roses. Iran, a country that has not initiated any violence on another nation in the past 200 years, but unfortunately has been the subject of such violations many times in her recent history.
In the past 30 years the loving people of Iran have experienced all kinds of difficulties; revolution, sanctions, war and terrorism. Iran has also taken sweet, strong beginning steps towards democracy. We Iranians have had the experience of revolution. We know that real change will not occur through a sudden move, with violence. We know that real change will come from within, from each one of us, Iranians. We have learned this lesson and paid a very high price for it. That is why we are strongly opposed to any violence, or pressure for change, including regime change, through the direct or indirect intervention of foreign powers. We are proudly and persistently working hard to reach the level of democracy we deserve and desire. Any attack on our beloved Iran will destroy all our work; any violence imposed on our mother land will eclipse our efforts, efforts of a 100 years, a 100 years of the hard work of generations. A war on Iran is a war on a nation’s desire for democracy. A war on Iran is a war on human history, a war on a culture of peace and a war on a people who have never appreciated violence.
Dear fellow American peace lovers, please deliver our message to your politicians. We are not just a piece of land. We are not oil. We are not nuclear sites. We are not evil. We are women, men, children. We are people with dreams, jobs, families, with a baggage of 5000 years of experience. When we talk about war we know what we are talking about. We have heard the shrieks of missiles. We have smelled the gunpowder. We have run for shelters. We have seen pieces of a human body in top of our trees and on our roof tops. We have lost loved ones. We know what war means. War was behind our windows. We experienced war in our back yard. For my generation, killing, bombs, missiles, chemical weapons and terrorism is not just in Hollywood; is not a computer game; it is real. And that is why we don’t want evil to knock on our door again. We don’t want war.
Iranians has experienced 30 years of sanctions that were imposed on them in the harshest way. Discussing and deciding on “crippling sanctions” is one thing. Living with them is another. Your government thinks they can bring our governments to its knees with these kinds of pressure. They are dead wrong. Your government is sanctioning Iranian children, workers, women, students, activists, but not the government. Your government is targeting Iranian people, who are disconnected from the circles of power. Those who live in the bountiful land of Iran pay the price; they suffer the most from these sanctions.
My American sisters and brothers let me say one last word on “crippling sanctions”. The People of one of the wealthiest countries in the world can hear the breaking sounds of their backs under the economic pressure. How long we can we continue to tell to our children that we don’t have bread to eat? Please help us to find a way to explain sanctions, nuclear, 5+1, IAEA and NPT to our little children who want and deserve to live like your children.
Don’t let the history repeat itself. Don’t allow the scenario that caused Iraq to lose more than half a million children because of punitive sanctions repeat here in our beautiful Iran. Sanctions will not stop the government from following their planned policy. Sanctions destroy people’s lives. Today, as I am writing to you, there is a strong need for medicine, food, clean water and even toys for little children. Today we are talking about precious human lives. Today is the day to rethink, rebuild and get back to the most important role of our life, that of a loving human being.
David Swanson's books include War Is A Lie. He blogs at David Swanson and War is a Crime and works for the online activist organization roots Action. He hosts Talk Nation Radio.