Mr. President Obama: It’s the Persian Gulf. Please don’t step on a nation’s dreams – an open letter to President Obama

October 11, 2009

Your Excellency,

President Obama,

First of all, I would like to seize this opportunity to congratulate you for your Noble Peace Prize. I really hope this prize can get your message through to the hearts and minds that are sealed with hatred and lust for power.

I am Arash Hejazi. You might have heard my name before, as I am the doctor who tried to save Neda Agha-Soltan, the young woman who was shot during the peaceful demonstration against the frauds in the Iranian elections, the same woman you have mentioned twice in your speeches in the last four months.

I am the one who left his country to bear witness to the absolute cruelty and injustice that ended up in the death of that innocent girl who was shot in the chest by an Iranian pro-government militiaman and bled to death under my eyes.

Mr. President,

I was there when Neda died. I made sure that the world saw the look in her eyes just before she died. I testified about the circumstances of her death, so that every tyrant in the world would know that there is always someone watching.

She died for a reason there; she died for a dream at a time when all dreams were shattered. She died to bring back dignity to a country that was becoming one of the most hated states in the world. She tried to show the world that Iran was not about nuclear activities, terrorism and fundamentalism, but about believing in dreams, courage, dignity, unconditional love, and paying any price necessary to get one step closer to freedom.  Her death introduced anew the purity of a three thousand year old nation to the world.

I have lost everything since I bore witness to this crime, I have lost my career, my decent life in Iran, my family security, my safety, my country, and now I am on my own in this large world, without money, without a job, and with a family to support.

But I don’t regret what I have done and I would have done it again if the clock turned back; although the world watched that innocent look in Neda’s eyes and did nothing. Millions of people shed tears, but no one did anything. As usual, everybody watched, they cursed the tyrant, they blessed the martyr, but no one took a step to support a nation that has been the homeland to the first declaration of human rights.

Nevertheless, I am not writing this letter because I want you to do something. No, the people of Iran will fight and gain their freedom without asking for the help of any authority in the world. What makes me compelled to write to you is that although we don’t need anyone’s support, we appreciate if the world does not try to distort the truth.

Neda did not die for a country, but for a dream called Iran. One of the major symbols of Iran in the hearts of the Iranians is the Persian Gulf, a beautiful gulf in the Middle East that in your speech, you have referred to as ‘The Gulf’.

Mr. President, the Persian Gulf has been called the Persian Gulf BC by Daryus the Great and Herodotus in the fifth century; by Claudius Ptolemaues in the second century BC and by Quintus Curticus Rufus in the first century AD, and its official name is still the ‘Persian Gulf’. The United Nations has issued two editorial directives in which the states have been asked to only use “Persian Gulf” as the official and standard geographical designation for the body of water.

The implication of Neda in your speech was heart-warming for the Iranian Nation; however, when you omit the word ‘Persian’ from the Persian Gulf, you are stepping on the dreams of Neda and a nation that have nothing left but their dignity and their dreams. I am sure that you have no intention of stripping a nation from what is rightfully theirs.

I have lost everything for a dream, and I believe that you Mr. President are one of the few politicians left in the world who still believe in dreams.

I salute you and I wish you the very best in the long journey ahead of you. I hope you too wish the best for a nation that is struggling towards its dream for freedom and prosperity amidst the blood of its loved ones.

Sincerely yours,

Arash Hejazi

60 Responses

  1. Faryad Rahayi says:

    Dear Dr. Hejazi,

    Though I appreciate your letter to Obama as an Iranian who is proud of my heritage, I’m questioning the timing of such a letter. To emphasize the “Persian” Gulf when there are so many more pressing concerns like the ongoing human rights abuses, murders, torture and rape in Iran, seems untimely. Don’t you think? Isn’t this the same objection that the Iranian regime would raise while telling Obama not to meddle in Iran’s affairs? Why haven’t you addressed Obama’s silence on human rights violations in Iran and asked him to take a stand? The Iranian people do need every support they can get, and are disappointed with Obama for his strategic silence on this issue. We can’t go it alone, as we haven’t been able to make a difference without international support in the last 30 years.

    Just curious…

  2. maryam says:

    پسرم افتخار می کنم که نسل جوان کشور من از دانش و بینشی این چنین برخوردارند.
    آرش عزیز گرچه شما قربانی اشتباه ما در انقلاب شدید وما نیز پس از حبس و شکنجه و تبعید به گوشه ای متروک فرو افتادیم؛ اما قهرمانانی چون تو پرچم پیروزی را به دوش دارند و خون ندا و نداها و آرش های دیگر ضامن این پیروزی است. به امید آن روز که همه باهم نابودی جهل وجور و فساد را در ایران جشن بگیریم.
    پایدار باشی

  3. sara says:

    امیدوارم یاد بگیریم به خاطر برچسب زدن دیگران پا پس نکشیم … با هیچ برچسبی چه شوونیستی و غیر آن نام خلیج فارس عوض نخواهد شد… من خوزستانی هستم و به نام پر شکوه پارس می بالم بی ترس از ته لهجه عربی و نیک می دانم حاکمان مستبد نیاکان مرا به سخن گفتن غیر پارسی مجبور کرده بودند … من پارسم با اینکه گویشم با اجبار و در طی قرنها عوض شده است.. زنده باد ایران و ایرانی با هر زبان و گویش و پر آوازه و همیشگی خلیج تا ابد پارس بی واهمه از هر برچسبی …

  4. Hamed Rad says:

    اراجیف این شخص هامون نام، ارزش وقت و انرژی گذاشتن نداره
    مثلی در آذری هست که این جور مواقع می گن:
    سگ پارس می کنه
    کاروان هم به راهش ادامه می ده
    حالا این آقا بگذارید بگه
    سپاس از شما برای نگارش این نامه
    پاینده باشید

  5. Farzaneh says:

    The comments of someone who posted under the name of “The Great Green Movement” doesn’t make sense to me. It’s like saying most people who live in a particular city in North America are Chinese; therefore it is right to change the city’s name to Beijing or another Chinese town.
    Solely because some or even the majority of people living in Southern Iran are of Arab decent, does not make Persian Gulf Arabian. This is not a matter of racisim but defending one’s country against the intruders.

    Some people such as “Faryade Rahaei” questioned Dr. Arash Hejazi as to why he is sending Obama a letter educating him about history and the origins of the Persian Gulf instead of asking him to meddle in our people’s green movement.
    Well, people have their own different views. I personally do not think that the U.S. or any other country should meddle in our yearn for freedom. One cannot dictate to others regarding how they think/what to ask the U.S. President.
    Also, Neda’s story or the green movement of Iran AND the issue over Persian gulf are two seperate matters. We cannot let other nations conquer our land just because we have other issues to fight for such as the elections or human rights.
    I strongly agree with Dr. Hejazi. Thanks for the letter. As many comments say, you represent 70million Iranians. Keep going.

    • hejazi says:

      Thanks a lot for your comments, Farzaneh. I believe all pieces of the puzzle have to be put together. We cannot ignore all other pieces and just stick to one.

  6. Mahdi Alrostami says:

    آرش عزیز سلام
    نامه شما رو به رئیس جمهور ایالات متحده آمریکا خواندم. من به عنوان یک عراقی این اقدام شما رو تحسین میکنم. این حق مسلم هر انسان آزادیه که از داشته های با ارزش و میراث نیاکانش در برابر دست درازی های بیگانه دفاع کنه.
    شما بهترین و زیباترین کاری رو که میتونستید انجام دادید.
    به امید روزی که دنیا پر از عدل و داد میشود.

  7. Mike Neill says:

    Very good letter, but like other replies I think there are far more important issues going on in Iran right now to be worried about the politically correct naming of the ‘Persian Gulf’.

  8. khosi says:

    DR arash hejazi for presidency of a free iran.

  9. lintangcahya says:

    I deeply admire what you did for neda and for your country. I admire you as a person who would stand up and sacrifice yourself in order to create justice. I admire you as yourself, your bravery, your dedications to this world.
    I believe you can change this world and bring your country to the peace they had longed for years.
    And yet, I got the point from your letter, when you’re there sacrificing all you have, giving it all your best, just to bring out a tiny ember of hope, with a quite disrespectful statement a person can broke down all of your efforts.
    I believe when you fight for others justice so many times in your life, justice will come to you. And so, it will.
    All of your sacrifice will not be forgotten and left behind. We will all fight for it. For the sake of a nation, for the sake of a world.