An Iranian writer-filmmaker, Mohammad Nourizad, was recently sentenced to three years in prison and 80 lashes. He dared to criticize the country’s leadership. Ouch. Lest I become blasé about the freedoms we enjoy in our relative paradise here in Canada, I take a minute out to feel his pain.
I know a bit about his future in Evin prison, since I spent eight years writing a memoir for an Iranian refugee living in Vancouver. Flight of the Patriot has just been released by Thomas Allen Publishers.
Yadi Sharifirad was a fighter pilot in the Shah’s airforce, and his wartime exploits against Saddam Hussein became legend in Iran. Feted as a hero, then arrested and tortured as a spy, Yadi’s subsequent escape through the mid-winter mountains into Turkey is high adventure. He might well have failed – shot by border patrols or killed by wolves or simply frozen to death – in which case we wouldn’t be reading about him.
Which is why Yadi wrote the story. For all the other freedom-loving Iranians who have died at whim of the ayatollahs, who never succeeded (or who never had the chance) to escape the Islamic Republic.
For Yadi, and for all those who have died attempting to attain basic human freedoms, the meaning of life is simply ‘to live’. To breathe. Life itself.
While we talk about suffering in the name of spiritual growth and ‘no pain, no gain’, it’s easy to forget that there are real Mohammad Nourizad’s out there taking a real beating, even as we sit here blogging.
I think a reading of Flight of the Patriot may help us all to understand what he’s going through.