Sunday, May 18, 2003

Last Thursday I went to Darabad with a professor and a student visiting from the Netherlands. Because we went the wrong way at first, the way became difficult and my companions became fearful of walking across a sheer dirt slope. I was wearing bad shoes, with smooth soles, but I got to the other side and took amusing pictures of them with my new digital camera! On the way back I talked to the professor about a conference he and I are going to in the UK next month. The professor said recently he was talking to a woman who said getting a visa was easy! He said, "What time did you arrive at the British embassy?" and she said 5am! This seems perfectly normal in Iran, some people had stayed overnight!

Complaining is quite usual of course, this post was inspired by recent stories on Face It about how humiliating it is to obtain a visa, and the sort of humiliation Tehran airport officials put Iranians through. OK. So, I said to the professor, "Let me tell you what it is like to be in the British Embassy. Many diplomats live inside the compound. One day, after Friday prayers, the ansar-e-hizbollah (thugs who Mr Janati pays) turn up and throw bricks at your house, breaking all the windows. Then, they start throwing Molotov cocktails, eggs, tomatos etcetera. This happens very often for a period of several weeks. Another day, someone drives a pick-up truck full of gas cylinders into the wall of your house, killing himself, and then people start handing out leaflets saying he was a shahid/suicide bomber. Remember, it is a diplomatic compound, this is like an attack on the UK itself. And now you are asking why they treat Iranians so badly???" And he said, "but what if you are a head of department at a famous university (like he was) and have been to this same conference four times before? I will ring them to get an appointment and if they don't give me a reasonable time for an appointment then I won't go!" He has obviously developed ways of dealing with the stress in Iran under IRI (and he doesn't have economic problems), but the people like the ones on the Face It blog are desperate to get out, what can they do?

In passing: Mr Zarif doesn't realise that attacks on embassies are attacks on the territory of that country either. (from smccdi).

``M. Javad Zarif, Iran's United Nations ambassador, says Iran "has not invaded any neighboring country" for two centuries.

Since it is international law that a foreign embassy is the sovereign soil of the country represented, the Iranian invasion and hostage-taking of American diplomats from November 1979 to January 1981 stands in stark contrast to Mr. Zarif's assertion.''

The real saving private Lynch (from Face It) it's old but really interesting, I had to link to it.

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