Friday, August 26, 2011
Ali has passed...
by Amir Taheri
I was reminded how valuable life is and how difficult it can be for some of us. There is a group of people that often times gets forgotten. Between the the political wars, economic hardships, and well just history, there exists individuals who took up arms when life as we knew it was in peril. These individuals put their own lives at the time on hold and risked their futures for the protection of their families, neighbors and people like myself who were born in Iran and lived through the long war years in the 80's. My focus for this week is to shine a light on these individuals and in particular one person who I will call Ali.
This Monday Ali, finally give in to his injuries sustained over 20 years ago in the war against Iraq. Ali was part of about 80,000 Iranians who was hit with chemical weapons such as mustard gas but survived the initial hit. 20,000 soldiers died on the spot, but Ali was part of the some 80,000 who luckily/unluckily survived. Surviving for him meant spending each of his remaining 20 years in hospitals. He underwent yearly surgeries removing parts of different organs that would give up over time. Apart from having every thinkable problem and ailment from breathing, to stomach, to liver, Ali also had mental and psychotic episodes. When better he would spent his days crying about the things he had done while his brain had shut down on him. He would hit his children, scream non-stop and once threw out his conservative chador wearing wife onto the street naked.
Ali comes from a lower income conservative family who like so many others at that time, went to the front lines because he felt that his country needed him. After being hit, he was quickly sent home, retired by the army, and spent his initial months as a permanent resident in the ICU of the hospital. Being retired in his teens was not what one would hope for at that age. So young and a body that was slowly giving up on him. He managed though to marry, and have 2 children. Not much of a father, not because he didn't want to be one or choose the option, but because it was taken away from him.
He spent his final days in Tehran away from his family and friends in a hospital for cancer patients. He had finally had a problem that the doctors could no longer hack at or remove. His body was flown to his hometown and Ali was buried in the war martyrs section of the cemetery with his colleagues in arms both old and newly passed. His wife will continue to receive his retirement check as long as she lives and will serves as a reminder of the hardships she and her husband underwent. If their daughter also stays unwed then she will also continue to be reminded of her fathers sacrifice with his retirement check. Much comfort for having never had a real father. Ali's funeral was today, even though he was already buried on arrival from the airport, his family gathered to remember him.
I do not want to start a discussion of blame, but it is important to note that many of the countries that accuse Iran today of all imaginable crimes, were the suppliers of these weapons; the United States, France, West Germany, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands. When the same United Nations Security Council that has passed resolution after resolution against Iran and its "supposed potential" nuclear program failed to even issue a report blaming Iraq's use of chemical weapons against Iranians like Ali, forget sanctioning Iraq or the selling countries. These same countries who have added sanctions on Iran and call for human rights abuses to be investigated have never once looked into their own actions or firms that sold these weapons. Europe who calls for efforts to remove the death penalty in Iran, yet not once has apologized for its own actions that brought so many deaths either by chemical weapons or conventional ones sold to Iraq.
Ali was not the first and will not be the last in a long line of courageous Iranians who still endure hardships daily and will be passing away almost daily. I don't know the others out there, I only know Ali and his hardships. But as an Iranian, and a human being, my heart goes out to all other Ali's out there or anyone else who with one simple quick decision to defend those he loves has his future taken away from him. I ask you to remember Ali and others like him. When in the future headline are blazing, don't forget people like Ali who were more than a headline to their families and friends. In years prior, people like Ali were for me just another name of a sad life until he become the Ali I knew.
Editor’s Note: Amir Taheri is one of the authors of Uskowi on Iran. His weekly columns appear here on Fridays.