Gunter Grass — What must be said

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What must be said

Why did I remain silent, silent so long,
about something so clear we used
in war games, where, as survivors,
we are just the footnotes?

That is the claimed right to the formal preventive aggression
which could erase the Iranian people
dominated by a bouncer and moved to an organized jubilation,
because in the area of his competence there is
the construction of the atomic bomb.

And then why do I avoid myself
to call the other country with its name,
where since years – even if secretly covered -
there is an increasing nuclear power,
without control, because unreachable
by every inspection?

I feel the everybody silence on this state of affairs,
which my silence is slave to,
as an oppressive lie and an inhibition that presents punishment
we don’t pay attention to;
the verdict “anti-Semitism” is common.

Now, since my country,
from time to time touched by unique and exclusive crimes,
obliged to justify itself,
again for pure business aims – even if
with fast tongue we call it “reparation” -
should deliver another submarine to Israel,
with the specialty of addressing
annihilating warheads where the
existence of one atomic bomb is not proved
but it wants evidence as a scarecrow,
I say what must be said.

Why did I stay silent until now?
Because the thought about my origin,
burdened by an unclearing stain,
had avoiding to wait this fact
like a truth declared by the State of Israel
that I want to be connected to.

Why did I say it only now,
old and with the last ink:
the nuclear power of Israel
threat the world peace?
Because it must be said
what tomorrow will be too late;
Because – as Germans and with
enough faults on the back -
we might also become deliverers of a predictable
crime, and no excuse would erase our complicity.

And I admit: I won’t be silent
because I had enough of the Western hypocrisy;
Because I wish that many will want
to get rid of the silence,
exhorting the cause of a recognizable
risk to the abdication, asking that a free and permanent control
of the Israel atomic power
and the Iran nuclear bases
will be made by both the governments
with an international supervision.

Only in this way, Israelis, Palestinians, and everybody,
all people living hostile face to face in that
country occupied by the craziness,
will have a way out,
so us too.

Translation by Alessandro Ghebreigziabiher

Was gesagt werden muss

Warum schweige ich, verschweige zu lange,
was offensichtlich ist und in Planspielen
geübt wurde, an deren Ende als Überlebende
wir allenfalls Fußnoten sind.

Es ist das behauptete Recht auf den Erstschlag,
der das von einem Maulhelden unterjochte
und zum organisierten Jubel gelenkte
iranische Volk auslöschen könnte,
weil in dessen Machtbereich der Bau
einer Atombombe vermutet wird.

Doch warum untersage ich mir,
jenes andere Land beim Namen zu nennen,
in dem seit Jahren – wenn auch geheimgehalten -
ein wachsend nukleares Potential verfügbar
aber außer Kontrolle, weil keiner Prüfung
zugänglich ist?

Das allgemeine Verschweigen dieses Tatbestandes,
dem sich mein Schweigen untergeordnet hat,
empfinde ich als belastende Lüge
und Zwang, der Strafe in Aussicht stellt,
sobald er mißachtet wird;
das Verdikt “Antisemitismus” ist geläufig.

Jetzt aber, weil aus meinem Land,
das von ureigenen Verbrechen,
die ohne Vergleich sind,
Mal um Mal eingeholt und zur Rede gestellt wird,
wiederum und rein geschäftsmäßig, wenn auch
mit flinker Lippe als Wiedergutmachung deklariert,
ein weiteres U-Boot nach Israel
geliefert werden soll, dessen Spezialität
darin besteht, allesvernichtende Sprengköpfe
dorthin lenken zu können, wo die Existenz
einer einzigen Atombombe unbewiesen ist,
doch als Befürchtung von Beweiskraft sein will,
sage ich, was gesagt werden muß.

Warum aber schwieg ich bislang?
Weil ich meinte, meine Herkunft,
die von nie zu tilgendem Makel behaftet ist,
verbiete, diese Tatsache als ausgesprochene Wahrheit
dem Land Israel, dem ich verbunden bin
und bleiben will, zuzumuten.

Warum sage ich jetzt erst,
gealtert und mit letzter Tinte:
Die Atommacht Israel gefährdet
den ohnehin brüchigen Weltfrieden?
Weil gesagt werden muß,
was schon morgen zu spät sein könnte;
auch weil wir – als Deutsche belastet genug -
Zulieferer eines Verbrechens werden könnten,
das voraussehbar ist, weshalb unsere Mitschuld
durch keine der üblichen Ausreden
zu tilgen wäre.

Und zugegeben: ich schweige nicht mehr,
weil ich der Heuchelei des Westens
überdrüssig bin; zudem ist zu hoffen,
es mögen sich viele vom Schweigen befreien,
den Verursacher der erkennbaren Gefahr
zum Verzicht auf Gewalt auffordern und
gleichfalls darauf bestehen,
daß eine unbehinderte und permanente Kontrolle
des israelischen atomaren Potentials
und der iranischen Atomanlagen
durch eine internationale Instanz
von den Regierungen beider Länder zugelassen wird.

Nur so ist allen, den Israelis und Palästinensern,
mehr noch, allen Menschen, die in dieser
vom Wahn okkupierten Region
dicht bei dicht verfeindet leben
und letztlich auch uns zu helfen.

‘We Will Never Bomb Your Country’: The Israeli-Iranian Peace Web

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by NERI ZILBER

Netroots effort launched by Tel Aviv couple inspires thousands.

RonnyAndDaughter.jpg Meet Ronny Edry: an Israeli graphic designer, husband, father of two, and as of a few days ago, friend of the Iranian people. Edry, 41, and his wife, Michal Tamir, 35, are the Israelis responsible for the recent online initiative titled simply, “Iranians, We Love You.”Late last week, Ronny created a digital poster with this message, and added this line: “We will never bomb your country.” The backdrop includes a photo of Ronny holding his five-year-old daughter, Ella, who herself holds a small Israeli flag. He posted the image on the Facebook page of the design preparatory school, Pushpin Mehina, that he runs with his wife in Tel Aviv.

With “loose talk” of war between Israel and Iran gaining momentum, the poster struck a nerve among Israelis. Many began sending in their own pictures, creating more posters that they then shared on Facebook. Messages of support poured in. And then Iranians themselves began responding, first in private messages to Ronny and Michal, and then with their own posters, with their own words of peace and love for Israelis.

It’s impossible to count the hundreds of posters that have been shared on Facebook and the thousands of messages that have been exchanged between Israelis and Iranians in just the last few days. This past weekend, as I sat with the couple, messages and friend requests from all over the world streamed in to their inbox, dozens every half hour.

“This is a message by the people to the people,” Ronny explained to me. “We don’t want war. No matter what the governments are saying, on both sides, we are against it, since we will be the ones fighting it…. I think it is important that we raise our voices.”

Raising your voice is easier these days, especially via social media. “We can undercut the middle man, the politicians,” Ronny said. “I’m not addressing Ahmadinejad. Today we can reach Iran and they can reach us.”

Nevertheless, both Michal and Ronny are still amazed that their message got to “the other side” so quickly. Michal is calling it the fall of the second Berlin Wall. “We’re breaking borders and states of mind, breaking out of this cage called ‘Israel.’”

“We physically can’t go” to Iran, she added, “but our message of love is there, faster than any ambassador.”

LovePeaceFromIran.jpg“I have hundreds of Iranian [Facebook] friends now,” Ronny interjected with a smile. “I’m probably the Israeli with the most Iranian friends.”Some of the comments from Israelis, especially in the first day, were skeptical and more than a few were scathing. Some called them bleeding-heart leftists, out-of-touch Tel Avivites, friends of the enemy, Israel haters. Others criticized their choice of words.

“They asked us, Why did you choose to say, ‘We will never bomb you’? Why not ‘We don’t want to bomb you’? Because the logical response would be ‘We don’t want to bomb you, but we have to,’” Ronny explained. “I didn’t want to come out with half-measures. I’m not the prime minister. I’m not a politician. As a citizen, I will never bomb Iranians.”

The direct message of love at the bottom of the posters, moreover, was meant to be pointed. Ronny and Michal are mindful that the first step to war is the demonization and dehumanization of the other side. “The message is human beings loving each other, as human beings,” Michal explained to me. “Iranians see all these Israeli faces and say, ‘Hey, that’s what an Israeli looks like!’”

“Everyone’s against war, and for peace,” Ronny and Michal said, feeding off each other’s energy, often finishing each other’s sentences. “It’s much harder to say ‘I love you.’ Think about it — it’s the hardest thing for a human being to say…it’s the fear of rejection, of looking like a fool. But they really do love us back.”

The letter Ronny attached to his original online poster spelled out this simple, powerful idea: “For there to be a war between us, first we must be afraid of each other, we must hate. I’m not afraid of you, I don’t hate you. I don’t even know you. No Iranian ever did me no harm. I never even met an Iranian…. Just one in Paris in a museum. Nice dude.”

MichalAndSon.jpgDeep into the first night, after the initial posters began circulating around Facebook, Ronny received the first message from an Iranian. He said he got goosebumps all over his body and almost started crying. “I went immediately to wake up Michal, to show her,” Ronny recounts. “I thought it was so amazing. I had no idea that others would follow.”To say that other Iranians followed is an understatement. The messages being received in Israel, which Ronny and Michal repost via the Pushpin Mehina page, are remarkable for the simple humanity they convey. You can pick any at random, from Toronto, New York, Sydney, Tehran, and beyond — every one, without exception, is heartfelt and touching:

I am an Iranian lady. I just saw your warm and beautiful message to my country mates. Reading your message brought tears to my eyes and warmness to my heart. Just wanted to ensure you, we all Iranians feel the same, we just want peace and beauty on the earth, we hate war and slaughter, we all are the parts of one body…

And this:

A friend of mine shared your message on her wall and I assure you, it made my day! As an Iranian, a very dark and evil picture of Israel has been portrayed for me ever since I was a child & I think it has been the same for your people…. We both are the victims of our governments, we both are human beings seeking a better life, trying to make a better world.

And this:

I wanted to let you know that your message of love and peace has come through. Looking at all the photos on your wall brought tears to my eyes. Let us not allow our governments hold us back from knowing each other. I dream of a day that you and I will be able to meet in Tel Aviv or Tehran and catch up on all that has been kept back for so long. I sincerely believe, that day will come. TO PEOPLE OF ISRAEL: WE LOVE YOU, TOO!

WelcomeToShiraz.jpgRonny and Michal are acutely aware of the risks taken by their new Iranian friends. The couple has received messages explaining the political and security dangers of communicating with Israelis, especially for those living in Iran. While the majority of communications have come from Iranians in exile, which is hardly free of danger, others are emanating from inside the country. The fact that many Iranians are reaching out at grave personal risk gives Michal, Ronny, and the Israelis on the other side added motivation — to continue speaking out, to continue spreading the message.As of this writing, the viral campaign has exploded on Facebook and elsewhere across the Internet. The next step for the couple is to raise money and buy up advertising space in prominent international newspapers and locales (think New York’s Times Square) to display the posters.

It’s impossible to know whether the campaign will actually make a difference, whether it will succeed in preventing a disastrous war. For Ronny and Michal and the thousands of regular Israelis and Iranians who have spread this message of mutual love and common humanity, at least they will know they tried.

Neri Zilber is an Institute of Current World Affairs writing fellow based in Israel. Second poster, featuring Iranian Green Movement protester, from the Love and Peace Facebook page found here.

 

Copyright © 2012Tehran Bureau

Seyyed Hassan, Who Lives under the Stars

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by ABI MEHREGAN

One man’s life on the streets of Tehran.

Last April, the newspaper Iran, which is run by allies of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, published a series of shocking photos of homeless people being beaten and manhandled by private guards reportedly hired by Tehran Mayor Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf. Iran followed up with interviews and investigative reports aimed at exposing rampant mendacity in the mayoral office. While this was widely interpreted as another iteration of the long-standing Ghalibaf-Ahmadinejad rivalry in the run-up to next year’s presidential race, the publicity that it generated helped focus attention on a social phenomenon unfamiliar to many: the homeless worker. Here is the story of one such person.

***

multimedia-pics-1390-5-photo-1599.jpgAdjacent to Chamrun Parkway, there is a small square known as Street Sweeper Park. A bronze statue of a street sweeper, holding a broom, overlooks a filthy ornamental pool. On the pool’s far side is a metal basket, holding metal flowers. To the right of the statue there are some benches on stone legs. On one of them a homeless man in lying down. Even though the weather is cold, he is in a deep sleep under the weak winter sun. Around him, you can see his meager belongings; his hat has fallen to the ground. The fountain in the middle of the pool is, as always, not in operation. A municipal park worker in his green uniform leans over the pool, scraping the scum away with a small brush. The homeless man wakes up, looks around, picks up his hat, puts it back on his head, rubs his face, and sits upright on the bench.

This is Seyyed Hassan, who lives under the ceiling of the sky. He is 63 years old, of medium height, broad shouldered, with yellow upper teeth and no lower teeth at all. When he speaks, you can see his tongue through the space where his teeth used to be. His face is covered with a white beard. He rarely looks at you while speaking. He has a kind face, but there is no smile on it. His hands are big and dirty, and there is a silver ring with a glass bead on one finger. Look at his neck and you can see that, underneath his black coat, he is wearing five or six shirts, one on top of the other. His dusty coat is buttoned all the way up. He’s wearing a dirty white pair of pants. There are two bags, one small, and one large, with two pieces of tarp around him. These are all of Seyyed Hassan’s possessions.

As one can hear in his accent, he was born in the Galoobandak neighborhood of Tehran. A street vendor by day, he sleeps in the city’s parks at night. He does not have a real home. He says he comes to Street Sweeper Park two or three times a week. He talks about his homelessness: “The first time I left my house I was 14 years old. I was a shy teenager, but I left our home because my parents were fighting all the time, and I could not take it anymore. That day I spent walking around the streets till nightfall. I did not have a penny in my pocket, and I was hungry and the weather was really cold. My pride did not allow me to return home. Tired and hungry, I huddled in a street corner, but I could hardly fall asleep because of hunger and the cold.

“In the morning I started walking again, cold and hungry. Around noon, I came upon a street vendor selling sandwiches near a school. I stood by a tree on the other side of him, dreaming about having one of his sandwiches. A lady was passing by, looking at me she asked why I don’t have enough clothes on in that cold weather. I did not answer. She asked if I was hungry. I lowered my head and did not answer again. She asked if she could get me one of those sandwiches, and I said, ‘No, thank you!’ She went and got me a sandwich anyway. I was too embarrassed to accept the sandwich. She insisted, and also gave me two tomans and told me to go back home. I could not accept the money, but she put it in my hand anyway. I waited until she left, and then started eating the sandwich. I was so eager to eat the sandwich that I realized I had eaten the two-toman bill with it too! I remember that day as one of my best memories.

“My parents’ fighting continued. Eventually, I found some friends, but they could not fill my parents’ place. Knowing my situation, some of these friends really abused me. I ended up going to jail because of some of them. I was really disappointed. I trusted everyone, and everyone misused my trust. To be a good friend, I did everything I could for them. The worst of them was my best friend who gave me a package to deliver, which I found out contained illegal drugs. I could not understand why they were doing these things. Because of them I was arrested, but they all said they didn’t even know me. Once, with a bunch of them, we went to Shiraz. But in the middle of the night, they stole my money and my belongings and left me alone there. I had to walk to Yazd, because I didn’t know what else to do. I realized that I was just a pawn in their hands. I was so proud and shy that I decided I would walk all the way to Tehran. On the road, I helped a man who had a flat tire, and he agreed to take me back to my home in Tehran. All this happened before I was even 30.

“At the age of 30, there was a transformation in me. I became a different person. It was as if I was born again. The world had a different meaning for me. I realized that if I got close and friendly with anyone I would end up being hurt again. I realized the world is full of people who should be kind to each, but they are not. They don’t know how. They hurt each other as if it is part of their nature. That is when I realized I don’t even know this world of ours. I didn’t want to wall myself away from the world, but at the same time I was not willing to get into any friendships either. That’s how I chose to live among people, but without friends. I can’t really complain.”

Seyyed Hassan is not willing to mingle a lot. It is hard for anyone to know where he is on a given day, and where he will be tomorrow, on this or that street. He says, “If someone wants to get close to me, I ask them to keep their distance. It is not that I don’t want to be friendly, but the meaning of friendship has changed for me. I don’t have very many friends. I do not confide in anyone. Whenever I get too lonely, I think of my twin girls. I talk to them in my solitude, as if they are sitting next to me, sometimes for hours and days.”

In 1985, amid Iran’s eight-year war with Iraq, he married a girl from the north. Because of the missile attacks on the capital, she went back to her home province to live with her parents. Seyyed Hassan brought her belongings north himself, returned to Tehran, gave up their rental house, and became homeless. He used to visit his mother, who lived on her pension after years as a textile industry laborer, twice a week. Eventually, his brother insisted she move to a retirement home in Kahrizak. She died in 1995. This was Seyyed Hassan’s bitterest memory. He cut off contact with his brother and refuses to accept his share of the inheritance from the sale of his mother’s house.

Seyyed Hassan talks of walking the streets as one of his sweet pleasures. Even though he went to school for only two years, his command of the language is phenomenal. He says he practiced his reading skills on street signs and his speaking skills by listening carefully to people. He is very polite and always says hello to passersby.

“They don’t really bother me, and I am happy about this. A lot of them avoid me because of my clothing. They think they might get dirty. But I see them, listen to their conversations, hear their fights and disagreements. I find out about their troubles and difficulties without even asking them. Alas, I can’t do anything for them. Who will ever listen to me? I wish I could take some of their burdens away. Although I am sure they would be very surprised if they heard me say that.”

He sells toys as a street vendor. He earns around 15,000 tomans a day ($7 to $10, depending on the exchange rate). He uses about five thousand for his food, and saves ten. At the end of the month, he sends this meager amount to his family in the north. He realizes that it is not much, but it’s still of some help to them. When he talks about his family, he stares into the distance and speaks very calmly.

“Every few months, I go to visit my family. I saw them on the 16th of last month, and I won’t go again until after the Nowruz celebration. That will be another three months. I know there are a lot of people visiting during Nowruz. I am not saying I don’t like guests and family visiting. You know they say guests are God’s gift. But their house will be very busy and crowded. I’d like to go there when it is quieter, so that I can see my twins in peace. They are nine years old and they go to the same school that their mother teaches in. She is a first-grade teacher, and my twins are in third grade.

“I also have two boys. My eldest is a lot like me, very quiet, and does not talk much. He is doing his military service. From early on, he earned his own living. He uses scrap metal and makes weird sculptures out of it and sells them. My wife is a real hard worker. During spring, between March and June, she works as a laborer planting rice in other people’s rice paddies. She has to stand in water and mud up to her knees, battling leaches and other parasites in the water, bending to plant rice. As her wages, they give her rice once it is harvested. That is how she has enough rice for the rest of the year. She is a hard worker, who single-handedly raised the children, and was a father to them as well.”

When he goes home, he stays just four or five days. He likes it there. He likes to see his twins, but he loves living on the streets of Tehran more. Seyyed Hassan’s wife knows that her husband does not have a home in Tehran, but she can’t do anything but accept this fact. Now that he is old, there is no work for him in the north. Seyyed Hassan says he does not have a problem with his plight. Though his life is truly hard, he is thankful that he is not begging on the streets. He can take the difficulties, like today’s cold weather, in stride and sees this as God’s special attention toward him. He says that as he bears more burdens, he thanks God even more.

Ever since he was robbed, he collects his belongings every day and carries them with him. The theft occurred some time ago. As had happened before, some municipal workers told him not to return to a certain park. They also forbade him from using a nearby locker. When he didn’t pay that any attention, his belongings were stolen and no one accepted any responsibility for it. With the loss of his inventory, he had to go to the bazaar and procure toys from his regular supplier on installment, so that he’d have something to sell and live on. Now he walks around the streets of Tehran with his bag in hand and spends the night on whichever street corner he comes upon. He hates to be disturbed, and that’s the reason why he does not speak to anyone about his life. He moves constantly. So far, the police and municipal workers have mostly left him alone. They don’t inquire where he’s coming from or where he’s going. He is on his feet all day and does not ask for help from anyone.

Seyyed Hassan follows the news of the day. He hates wars. He likes to see everyone happy and content. He wishes injustice all over the world could be eradicated. He says if he could be born again, he would ask God to bring him back as a guide, someone in a position to solve people’s problems and give them back their lost hopes and happiness. Although he knows there is no such thing as reincarnation.

Abi Mehregan is a pen name. A labor activist, the author is on the staff of Iran Labor Report. File photos.

Copyright © 2012 Tehran Bureau

Homeless Skeletons in the Mayor’s Closet

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As the beast of the stagflation is rearing its head in Iran, some poor and working class families find themselves no longer able to afford the high cost of living.
While these people still work and contribute to society they are forced to live homeless on the streets of Tehran. Add to this, the deluge of migrant workers to Tehran and other big cities in search of work and you get “the homeless worker” phenomenon.
For a long time, there had been disturbing stories circulating among local NGO’s and social advocacy groups that the municipality of Tehran was engaged in what it termed “combating homelessness”. More specifically, it was suspected that the mayor of Tehran, Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf (whose presidential ambitions are no secret to anyone) had sanctioned abusive behavior by his lieutenants to beautify his city by keeping this new class of “homeless workers” out of the voters’ sight.
When Mr. Ghalibaf ran for president in 2005, he did so as the standard-bearer of the moderate wing of the militocracy. This was in opposition to Ahmadinejad–who at the time was representing the far Right–and the pragmatists whose leader was Hashemi Rafsanjani.
In the 2005 election, Ghalibaf’s posters made him look like an American politician. He stood in front of a private jet, which reminded people of his service in the Revolutionary Guards (RGCI) Air Force. In the poster Ghalibaf sported stylish sunglasses, which was presumably meant to set him apart from the rest of the RGCI set. Despite his new modern hip image, Ghalibaf’s bid to become Iranian president at the age of 44 came to an abrupt end in 2005.
A few years later as things went from bad to worse during Ahmadinejad’s first term, people were willing to ignore Ghalibaf’s checkered past (he had been one of the 24 RGCI commanders who had threatened Khatami with a military coup back in 1999) and support him in a covert political war with Ahmadinejad.
In fairness, since Ghalibaf was elected mayor of Tehran in 2005 (which he won after losing the presidential election) he has done some work to enhance Tehran’s reputation as the capital of a flourishing oil-based economy. New parks have been built and garbage has been collected regularly, even in poor neighborhoods. Ghalibaf also has started to gain the support of the new middle class, the so-called YUMMYs (Young Upwardly Mobile Muslim Youth).
Ghalibaf’s high water mark came in the 2009 election when Tehran Emrouz (one of Ghalibaf’s several media outlets) reported that millions had marched peacefully in the Green Movement’s historic June 15, 2009 march. At the time, everyone on the Right was trying to belittle the Greens as a handful of saboteurs with no real mass support.
Albeit piecemeal and symbolic, Ghalibaf’s apparent support for the Green Movement helped many people overlook his questionable victory in 2005’s mayoral race. Ghalibaf had won the 2005 Tehran mayoral election through some backroom dealings.
For a spell during the nationwide protests, it had seemed there may be hope that Ghalibaf’s YUMMYs and the Green forces could join hands to pose a challenge to Khamenei-Ahmadinejad juggernaut. However, the Green Movement was crushed by the forces of the President Ahmedinejad and the Supreme Leader of Iran Ali Khamenei.
Now in the years following the protest movement, there has emerged a deepening rift between the Supreme Leader and the president. And suddenly, Ghalibaf has became the Right’s new golden boy. Ghalibaf’s visits to the Supreme Leader’s office have become more frequent, rightist vigilantes have stopped picketing his public appearances, and many hardliners have begun attacking Ahmadinejad as Ghalibaf’s position seems to have improved considerably.
At this point, Ghalibaf’s past achievements have come under closer scrutiny. Chief among investigative tools used by the Iranian media has been the newspaper IRAN– controlled by Ahmadinejad– which had been a pillar of the Far “maniacal” Right but now has undergone something of a small transformation of late.
When the pictures reproduced in this article were printed on the IRAN newspaper website, they caused a small firestorm. It was revealed that the beatings and violent roundups of homeless people were routine operations and that this less-than-honorable job was assigned to private security firms whose owners were former RGCI officers many whom had past connections with the current mayor. Also the newspaper IRAN explained that many of the homeless had regular daytime jobs.
Dr. Mostafa Eghlimi, the head of the Association of Social Workers of Iran complained that his organization had repeatedly protested to no avail against the rough treatment meted out to the homeless by the municipality. Says Dr. Eghlimi, “There has to be a social worker present during their roundup operations but no social worker is willing to work with them because of their unconscionable and violent ways.”
Eghlimi added that this sort of violent coercion against the homeless working poor of Tehran has been going on for years by the Ghalibaf administration.
Eghlimi said that each private security group “rounding up homeless” gets paid per head. Each person or head pushed out of the public’s vision receives payment, explained Dr. Eghlimi. In this way the private security firms have an incentive to go after more and more homeless. After being taken by the security firms, the homeless are held in jail for one month before being released back on to the same streets to be preyed on once again by the private security firms.
Asked about the nature of the “warmhouses” (a name used by the municipality for “public shelters”) Eghlimi disputed that these shelters were suitable for keeping people. “These centers are putrid and infected. That’s why homeless people prefer sleeping on the street in the cold to contracting diseases (in the warm houses),” said Eghlimi.
Eghlimi believed that the municipality’s aim was to hide the homeless so that no one could see them stating that the Ghalibaf’s propaganda message was more important than what was really happening to the working homeless in Tehran.
Eghlimi concluded that the municipality and the private firms routinely demand a penalty from those they capture, thereby taking away the money of the homeless as a penalty.
Since these reports have been brought to light, new questions have been raised about Ghalobaf’s qualities as a leader. Is Ghalibaf the man to change Iran? Is he the right man to take Ahmadinejad’s place? And if so how would such a man who authorizes the beating of defenseless people on the streets of Tehran lead Iran?