Spotlight on Iran

October 21, 2013 - Mehr 29, 1392 Editor: Dr. Raz Zimmt

The voices of Iran’s young people: letter from an anonymous young woman to Foreign Minister Zarif on his Facebook page

Since taking office, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has become one of the most active politicians on social networks inside and outside Iran.  His Facebook page and Twitter account have hundreds of thousands of followers.

Last Friday (October 18) a young Iranian woman posted a response to a periodical status posted by Zarif on his Facebook page on the subject of the latest round of talks between Iran and the West, which took place last week in Geneva. Within a short time, the young woman’s response elicited considerable interest in social networks as an expression of the hardships of many young Iranians in the shadow of the economic crisis in Iran.

The young Iranian woman’s letter and Foreign Minister Zarif’s response are presented here in full. 


The young woman’s letter to Foreign Minister Zarif

Dear Mr. Zarif,

I hope your [health] condition has improved.

I am a 26 year-old Iranian girl living in Iran (I apologize for not being able to introduce myself fully). I hope you read my entire response.

I am married. I got engaged three years ago, but due to financial problems we cannot afford a wedding. My husband is a doctoral candidate and cannot find a job.  Without money and without work, our lives are ruined. My father is retired and cannot afford a dowry.

Recently I was accepted to a graduate program at one of the best universities in Tehran, in one of the best departments. I go to Tehran three days a week. You may not believe me, but I can’t afford the bus fare to Tehran. I can’t afford to pay 40,000 tomans a week for food and bus tickets. My husband can’t support me and I can’t take money from my father. Student loans won’t be of much help to me and I still haven’t received them. I have often considered dropping out of school, but I get all choked up when I think about how hard I worked to be accepted.

I don’t know if you have children or not and I don’t know how you and your children studied. So, for just a moment, forget about how all of you studied and imagine what it’s like to study under the most difficult conditions possible. I think about how much money the people who attend international universities have and how I can’t afford to pay 40,000 tomans a week for my studies etc. I’m on the verge of depression. 

I have the same difficulties when it comes to my dowry. For a girl, getting engaged means constant partying, going out, happiness, expenses and trips. I’ve been an engaged girl, too, but the only thing I’ve gotten out of life is frustration.

I don’t want you to say: “I’m sorry.” I didn’t introduce myself in order for people to pity me. I just want my rights.

I am an Iranian. Why is there no welfare in my country, where members of my family have served in the army and have fallen in battle?  Why am I unemployed? Why don’t I enjoy proper nutrition? Why don’t I have money?  Why do people treat me like dirt despite my grades and my CV? This nuclear energy – where is it? What do I get out of it? Will I get a job in the field of nuclear energy? Or will my husband, with his high intelligence? Our debts are growing and multiplying.  In the summertime there are constant power outages, so where is our energy security? Even if it’s good for the future of the country, why should we be the victims? Why does the development of future generations have to be on our ashes?  What sins have we committed? Why does my country easily condone the theft of 3,000 billion tomans [a reference to the huge embezzlement affair in the Iranian banking system] but delays the payment of cash benefits in the paltry sum of two rials for as long as 24 hours? Cash benefits are vital for people like me in order to retain their dignity in the face of the high cost of living.

Sir, what language should I use to tell you that I don’t want nuclear energy at the cost of my youth and my life? I only live once. I want to be happy. I’ve had enough sorrow. I am selling the absolute right [to nuclear energy]. Anyone who wants can have it. In return I want a job, money, a home, a simple dowry and health insurance.

You have no idea what happened to me recently. I don’t know what your back problem is, but I understand your pain very well. The pain starts in the back and runs down to the foot. I can’t go to the doctor but I looked up the symptoms online and figured out what disease I have. I can’t stand, I can’t sit, I can’t sleep.  I surrender to the pain. The pain is unbearable, but I can’t go to the doctor, I can’t have an MRI because I have no insurance, because I have no money. Medical expenses are inconceivable. The cost of health has become the price of human blood.

Good for you that you have a doctor who treats your pain (and, of course, good for you for all you have, and I hope that God blesses your labors and that with God’s help you will feel better). For fear of causing embarrassment to my husband and my father, I don’t tell anyone how much pain I am in. You see the difference between you and me. My life is hanging in the balance and all of you high-ranking officials proceed with your tranquil and beautiful lives without any stress.  So you calmly announce the next round of talks while I sob and turn to God: When will it end [i.e., when will the talks end].  

I am telling you this so you will know that there are people like me who only live but hope to die, time and time again. Do something to put an end to sanctions, so prices will drop, so rents will drop, so food prices will drop, so the labor market will flourish, so people won’t have to pay for drugs and medical care with their lives, so that we will have security and welfare. Do something so that someone like me who loves to learn, who has only struggled throughout her life and has been patient and righteous, will not suffer from nerve diseases at her age and will not constantly think about dropping out of school. Do something so that young people will be able to marry in comfort and do something to reduce corruption. But don’t delay. I’m afraid it won’t happen in our lifetime.

Enough with the sanctions. Someone once said that for people born in the 1960s [the 1980s], you have to dig a deeper grave so there will be enough room for the many wishes that they have to take with them to the grave. I ask you to reply to my comment.  

Foreign Minister Zarif’s reply to the letter

My dear daughter.  I know that my colleagues and I bear a heavy responsibility, and although we were not involved in creating the current conditions, having accepted the responsibility we must work to find a solution.  

I hope that with the president’s assistance and the support of all the citizens, Iran’s many economic problems will gradually be resolved and life will become more relaxed for you and the other citizens. Believe that during every moment of paperwork and negotiations, I consider myself to be indebted to each and every one of you and I hope I can reduce the burden on your shoulders somewhat. With God’s help and with your support, we will get the job done patiently, maintaining the rights of the State. Be confident that the best way to conduct serious talks and remove pressure is by making an effort to reach an understanding through effective cooperation and respect. Have a little patience, the dawn is near.