My name is Saeed. I was born in Tehran, the capital city.
My father was a very, very intelligent person. About eighty years ago, or seventy years ago, he studied Law at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland. He was qualified to be a Lawyer ... a Solicitor or Barrister in Switzerland ... and France … because he studied the French language.
He came back to Tehran, and he had a very, very top position in the Army … he was razor sharp … my father’s name was Buick, like the car from General Motors. His job was not just in the Army but also in the Government … he was a Personal Assistant of the Prime Minister ... but that was seventy years ago. He was a millionaire at that time. We had a big house. At that time, nobody had a swimming pool and we had a swimming pool because he liked so much the swimming pool in Switzerland ... and he would swim in the Lake at Geneva and Montreal. Life was very, very good.
My family were all important people. My Auntie was a student in Geneva and my uncles were studying in Belgium. My Mother’s brother was the Iranian Ambassador in Petrograd ... we had contacts in Moscow. In India and New Delhi, my family were the Ambassadors ... and at Kabul and Afghanistan at that time ... and Egypt. We had near relatives ... cousins and my Father’s cousins in the Government ... they were Government ministers ... the Minister of Education. It was very important.
The Iranians are so friendly ... it really is not like you see on the television. They are a very simple people ... they don’t have a trick. Iran was beautiful ... I miss it very much ... a beautiful country but still a feudal country ... it was all belonging to big families ... all the streets belonging to different families ... a General or a Colonel or the Head of a Ministry... the Under Secretary of State or something like that.
My Grandparents … I remember them both. Granddad ... Mohamed was his name ... at that time, he was a Colonel in the Army ... he was my hero ... and he was very generous with us. We were so happy when he was coming to us because he would give us presents and give us all his money for us to go and buy the ball to play football ... and sweets and bicycles and chocolate ... he was very generous ... paying us five shillings ... very good money ... we were happy. If I saved the money he gave from two or three visits, I could buy a bicycle. He was not an Army Dictator ... and he took us out to the villages with horses and rifles for hunting ... my Grandfather was a country-man. At that time, the officers were all from the countryside, they were engaged with gardens and farms and so on ... agriculture.
My Grandmother ... she was another very strong personality ... even my grandfather was really afraid of her. Every time my Grandfather did something funny, we would say, ‘Grandpa. we are going to tell Granny’, and he would say, ‘No! No! No!’, and he would give us some money to stay quiet ... bribery it was ... but she was a nice person as well. Two or three things I still remember from before I went to school ... one of them was when the my Mother wanted to go window-shopping ... women are not allowed to go out alone ... we had gone to the shopping centre in West Tehran, and then I lost them. I was very naughty. I was going to another shop by myself, and I lost them, and I was crying ... I was three or four years old. A big crowd gathered. I called to them and I saw that they were gone. The milkman of the area recognized me and took me home. My Mother and the rest of the families were really desperate ... they thought I was gone ... they had gone to the Police ... I was crying badly. Oh dear! To remember this … it’s funny! People were rushing and saying, ‘Don’t worry, don’t worry. We will take you home’.
I remember the day they sent me to school ... my very first day ... I didn’t want to go ... my Mother took me to along the lane to take me to the school and I dropped my new notebooks and my bag into the river and I said, ‘I’m not going!’ At that time, Tehran did not have the water pipes ... there were rivers that took the water from the top of the road to the other houses ... we would share the river with the other houses in the street. I was a very naughty child. They said, ‘Saeed, how will you become like your father or your uncle ... and the others? They have studied ... they have their carriages and they have everything ... and servants. You must go to school. How will you learn?’ I remember always, from that day, how hard I tried. When I was at school, the teachers admired me because I was very clever in comparison with the other children. But I was not only clever, I was a very, very naughty boy ... I was always writing a hundred lines ... ‘I must not be naughty’. My handwriting, in Persian, is now very good ... like art.
It’s funny, I remember all this so well and I really can’t tell you anything about yesterday! Even the newspapers my Father was reading, in the evening, about what was happening ... every old day is like a new photograph. That time there was going to be the War, the beginning of the difficulties. I was eight years old ... my Father would sometimes explain for us what was happening ... the War is coming and it is not good ... that is why from that time I learned that War is not good, peace is better.
I wanted to be a Pilot in the Air Force. I went to the Military Academy and they didn’t let me in. They said that I was too small. I was very small but I used to play volleyball and basketball and football in the evenings, after school, at five o’clock. I played for the school. I always wanted to be strong and to fight, so I started to box ... boxing was my sport. I wanted to be the big man in the class. I wanted to make my parents proud of me.
When I was still very young, the War started. I remember it was very, very bad. We went from being very rich to having rations ... with coupons. We are a very rich country in agriculture and in the mines and the oil ... we had everything but then Russia came in and they took the grain and the oil. The Germans invaded for energy, and then the Russians talked to Churchill and Roosevelt and they made their arrangements to invade Iran ... Iran was the bridge ... the bridge of the War. They all wanted to come in and get the oil. It is always about energy.
In Stalingrad, there was a very, very big fight ... the most important fight in the Second World War … and Stalingrad is very close to Northern Iran ... about five hundred miles away from the Iranian border. There was not so much fighting in Iran but fighting close by in Russia ... we could see the aircraft coming and going. Iraq was helping Germany.
For my Father, it was very bad ... he was in alliance with England and France and Russia ... he was a Democrat and he was against the Fascists. He didn’t like Hitler and Mussolini ... even Stalin he didn’t like. He said it was a disaster for us. Iran was going to be a very rich industrial country and then everything stopped ... civilization stopped … and we started to go backwards. All that is happening now in Iran began with the War. It never finished. Russia wanted help from the Americans, and Iran was the nearest road to the Persian Gulf.
I remember the soldiers in Iran ... the Americans and the English ... and the Russians. I saw three of them ... unfortunately, not a good memory of them ... they were refugees like you see on television. The Russians made an agreement with the Germans and they split Poland into two portions ... east for Russia and west for Germany. Russia brought three thousand refugees from Poland to Iran because they couldn’t pay them and keep them in their own country ... they were hungry and the Russians could not help them ... and the refugees came from Poland to Russia and the Russians moved them to Iran. There was typhoid and malaria ... all at that time ... in the War. I saw them coming in the lorries ... they made two or three camps, and people from their hearts helped them. The people of Iran wanted to help them. It was a very, very bad time.
I remember the end of the War ... two conferences, in Iran, between Roosevelt and Stalin and Churchill ... they sent their representatives to talk to the Germans in Leipzig ... I remember everything. It was June. We celebrated all across the country ... very, very nice. We put flags all around the house, and fires in the garden, and we invited people from the street to eat with us. I was fourteen years old.
I had been to England in the 1950s ... 1958 up until 1961. I came here to study English Language ... I went to classes to learn the language and about the culture. I remember how I was made to feel welcome.
I never married ... lots of girlfriends ... too many to count ... I came close ... I lived with some of them for years ... nearly ten years ... in Common Law, a marriage is five years, so we were married. I have no children ... fortunately not ... fortunately for them because I am very, very naïve ... too naïve to have responsibility for children.
I left Iran in 1979 ... a big decision but the right decision. When I applied for a visa to remain in this country, I referred to my uncles who were Diplomats. They had a very good record that my family had been a good friend to Great Britain. I got a job with a firm who were so anxious that I work for them as an Iranian International Lawyer ... it was very good for them … I had a lot of clients ... they made a lot of money.
Two things were really hidden in the 1979 Revolution for hard-line religion ... jealousy and personal dispute. Everyone had a gun and thought that he can do all the things that he had a complex about ... and they thought that they could use the Revolution to sort out all the disputes with the other people ... with the family, with the neighbours ... it became personal ... everything personal ... not about religion at all. The society became like a jungle, everybody was armed and aggressive towards others … there was killing in the streets like you can’t imagine. You had to defend yourself, in a hundred ways, every day ... it was very, very dangerous ... the atmosphere was the atmosphere of chaos ... very, very bloody. The institution was abnormal. The people fighting had no character, no morality, no conscience, they were servants for the Mullahs, for anyone in power ... very low people ... they were hard to answer to ... you couldn’t fight with them. It was non-stop, twenty four hours day and night, aggression.
You should fight for life, for honour, for your belief, and for everything that is right but they were different and that is when I thought I cannot stay. My family, my Mother and Father were dead before … I had no one to depend on me, so I could go. I left everything. All that the family had worked for I left behind.
In 1979, the Revolution ... the Islamic Revolution ... in February 1979, 1980 ... they destroyed the family life ... for all families ... everyone in the country ... they don’t like the family life ... because they don’t believe in the family ... divide them and rule them. The Revolution spoiled everything ... they thought religion would make everything better ... but this religion is very hard-line ... a bitter religion. Everything they want is exaggerated ... in money and in life ... they have a complex about before and that’s why they want to retaliate ... it is terrible ... this is why there are about four million refugees have emigrated. They said the brutality was God’s Law ... they said it is Koran Law ... because people accepted everything from the God ... they believe that God does not cheat them or do things that are bad ... so they wear the mask of the God and they do everything under the name of the God. This is dangerous because they don’t think they are doing by them, they have no conscience they have no humanity ... they are very, very selfish … aggressive people.
I cannot regret the decision that I left ... well, at least I can breathe freedom... I would have liked all of my family to have come with me ... one by one ... they are suffering ... and the regime makes the whole country like an iron cage. My sister was so sorry for the people she saw from the window when they were shooting the girls and the pregnant women after the election ... she saw that and she said to me, you cannot imagine. You cannot see their faces ... all blood ... very, very bad.
I miss my family and friends ... relatives ... because my friends were also like relatives ... I love them too much. I was very close to a friend in the school and in the University ... they are all still over there. I am so worried for them because the situation in Iran is very, very dangerous. Sometimes, I cannot sleep in the night because I am so worried. On the television, I see places I recognize ... all around the University buildings in Tehran ... because they are against education ... classic education ... against science because they think it is against religion. They think that religion is above all things ... that everything must come from their God ... teaching must only be spiritual ... it is very dangerous because there is no logic ... I am worried about all my friends in the region ... very dangerous ... the situation worries everybody, even Amnesty International and other people in the Human Rights Commission.
I think there will be another revolution ... no doubt. Iran has a very good historical background ... the people cannot tolerate this regime ... this kind of life ... for sure there will be another revolution ... a new permanent revolution ... even the Mullahs say so ... that the next revolution will last for ever ... it will be soon. They are angry and brave. Angry is not enough. Even the Revolutionary Guard will not support the President.
I have one brother and two sisters ... I was very close to my younger sister. She is very intelligent and she was always good in the school ... in the High School ... she has a very good position now in the Ministry of Education. She is still in Iran, her job is very important ... she cannot leave it ... because the people in the schools need the teachers ... she is the Head of Teacher Training in Iran. She was here two months ago ... I would love to be able to go back and visit.
My sister is an intelligent girl ... her son is a member of NASA in America ... he studied physics at University ... he is scientific, academic ... a great person ... her son. My brother is living in Florida. I wish my sister would leave now she has retired ... I told her she has no reason to stay.