Monday, October 26, 2009

Postcards addressed to the United Nations: An Interview byPantea Bahrami

Postcards addressed to the United Nations

Pantea Bahrami

Translated from a posting in Radio Zamaaneh.

It is a 9’ X 9’painting, a tapestry whose texture consists of human beings, falling and rising yet again, with women whose bodies testify to decades of toil, suffering, struggle, humiliation, and strength, and finally, relief and freedom.

There are circles in swirling motion. These are the cycles of life, with no gap between them, in continual, ceaseless motion.

There are tens of colorful pencils, the symbols of the age-old history of human struggle for freedom, with the dazzling rainbow of their diversity, beyond their ethnicity, religion and gender; and there are ropes which have bound humanity for ages, and on-going efforts by men and women, day and night, to untie and free themselves from them.

Truly, human being must have been very tolerant to have survived so long against such hardships. Moreover, they must have had a love for and faith in something well beyond tolerance that made them continue their struggle, a belief and faith in protest and a hope for change. It is this desire and hope for change of the unacceptable and undesirable that made them to survive so far.

This is the description of the painting by Alireza Darvish, the painter and the filmmaker who lives in Koln, Germany. He says:

This painting does not refer to any specific geographical location, but has a universal and general objective. We live in a global village; we can neither isolate ourselves artificially from others nor avoid responding to events happening in it, regardless of our immediate location or interests.

At a cursory glance, the painting may appear to be a mere reflection of current events in Iran, but this is certainly not its point.

There are two different aspects to this painting, the inner circle and outward motion. The outer view regards human involvement and reaction to the events, and the crises of life, and inner view regards the artist’s inner personal reflections as well as reactions to these events and crises.

But this work does not have any specific emphasis on Iran today. Indeed, it has a much broader issue in its content.

This painting is published on post cards in the United States to echo the voice of millions of people and to make an ocean of protests from them.

“In condemnation of Coup Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s crimes against humanity,” is written on the back of the cards.

Mina Siegel, the cards’ producer, explains:

The main impetus was, of course, the events which arose after the elections and the crimes which were revealed—the murders, rapes, tortures and forced confessions. They were all terrifying events, but what I have in mind when I say “crime against humanity” is way beyond those events. By “crime,” I mean the kind of crime which happened and victimized a vast majority of the people, something that we have got used to and thought of as not so important since it is so common that it has become a matter of fact, ordinary.

These last thirty years, I have come across Iranians, many of them my teachers, writers, playwrights, scholars, and artists, whose lives have been devoted to Iranian art and culture, whose identities were profoundly intertwined with the Persian language and culture. They had no existence beyond that and now they have no options.

These were the most frightening things I have ever faced in my life. I thought we should do something, we should raise our voices.

In fact, those she has in mind are greater in number than those experts who, after leaving the country, were not able to function without their mother tongue and become creative and survive. What she refers to are those who are stripped of their identity an therefore their dignity, those who have to step down just in order to make living, namely a vast majority of Iranian in exile.

Mina Siegel continues:

Our pressure on the UN to condemn the Islamic Republic for all the crimes against humanity is quite symbolic. This is crime against humanity that is happening all over the world and not only in Iran. Our country is just a small spot in the world; we won’t live in peace if the world is not in peace, and the world is not going to be a better place if each of its small members won’t live in humane condition. We do not get any better if we keep silent. We are the only ones who can possibly solve our problems.

These cards are addressed to the Secretary General of the United Nations. Mina Siegel talks about the quantity of these cards and the way she expect to become global:

Under these circumstances I unfortunately had to publish these cards with my private funds. Due to my limitations, I have published only ten thousand and another ten thousand are in the process of being printed. Hopefully we can increase their volume as we go along.

I have no intention of limiting these to Iran or Iranians. I hope this will become a global movement. In the United States I have counted on university students, young people and all those who are concerned about the future of the world we live in.

The stamps or the post cards that are published so far in Europe and elsewhere about the green movement have been very straightforward and the viewer will notice the message at the first glance. This is exactly what distinguishes these cards from others. In this regard, Alireza Darvish believes:

We should not expect to impress our audience with simple polemics alone. A work of art can sometimes be more impressive by its implications.

I have used the colors very consciously. I have filled the gray colors that surrounded the atmosphere with sharp and vivid colors, and by so doing I have expressed my own hope in that particular moment.

I think the events unfolding in Iran involve everyone in the world. Though the people in Iran have experienced them in their flesh and bones, we all, wherever we are in the world, have experienced its pain, their pain, as well. We all carry it in our minds and hearts wherever we are.

I asked Mina Siegel what would be achieved if 30,000 or even 50,000 of these cards would be sent to the UN? To that she responds:

Our main goal is to take the Islamic Republic to an International Court and put it in trial. This is a petition for the Secretary General to deliver the Iranian case to the Security Council in order for it to deliver it to the International Court of Hague. This is in accordance with existing protocols; the Iranian case cannot be filed directly with Hague.

Truly, the green movement, with its bold and sound actions of the last few months, gave me the encouragement to embark on this project, to raise our voices in support of this legal suit.

How could one obtain these cards? Mina Siegel explained,

We can send these cards to Europe with no difficulty, and those in Iran could ask their friends in Europe, Canada or US to fill some up on their behalf and mail them to the UN.

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