Posts Tagged ‘abduction’
Posted on September 2nd, 2009 by admin. Filed under Iran.
As the dust has settled i am seeing things more clearly- things that i did not trust myself to make any judgements on a few months ago. Just like anything in life, people’s reactions & criticisms of often say more about them & their hang ups, than anything valid about you. Friends who have divorced have told me this, and i never quite had anything very contraversial to apply that to, until this past summer in Iran. Yes, being forcibly stopped, surrounded & abducted by 10 Basiji men is intimidating but it is *certainly* not the worst thing on earth.. But i was a bit surprised when a few close male friends (seperately) told me that i was making a big deal of nothing. I definitely do not think it was a big deal compared to what others were going through but that does not mean that it still was not scary and did not deeply affect me- as it would others who are not used to living under those circumstances. In talking to more friends about it now (I was pretty isolated after it happened) I see that it was normal to be scared.. & even a tiny bit traumatized. Again- *certainly not* the worst thing that could happen but when you are alone in a foreign land, no one knows where you are, and you are a female with all men, it can be scary- especially given how unpredictable things were at the time & the fact that the Basiji certainly were to be feared.
Five days after the abduction one of my male friends- whose opinion i highly valued- sat me down & gave me a talking to after i had trouble eating, sleeping & producing work in reaction to what happened. In an annoyed manner, he told me that he also had a traumatic experience in Iran once: his car was broken into & his passport was stolen. And that he had to get over it & move on & that i needed to stop sulking, and get over it too. Maybe he just wanted to cheer me up- but the demeanor which he did this in suggested annoyance more than empathy. He said that what happend to me & what happend to him were “the same thing” … hmmmm.. I get the moving on part, but a car break in- losing your things vs. being scared for your life/safety are not the same thing. I could not believe what i was hearing. I really was not trusting myself when he said that to me, so i just kept quiet…
I met up with another male acquaintance from home, about a month after that. Granted i do not really trust this person’s opinion much - he often seems to get great joy from pointing out people’s fauts. Do not quote me on this- but within 15 minutes of seeing him, he went on to say “How on earth could you be so stupid to get your self in that situation?” and “On the one TV interview you had this grin, like ‘yeah i know i’m a bad ass.’” actually this is sort of a noncomment/nonsurprise given the source, rite?! Still, I pressed him about this & after a few beers (& possibly some superego getting him in check) he said that naysyers may just be jealous b/c they secretly wish they were out doing that sort of thing….
Just this weekend a close male friend questioned me- asking me why the thought that the Basij may kill me crossed my mind while that had me captive (uh, b/c they just abducted me- and they had killed others… and i was under allot of stress… errr—)- he went on to say that was foolish & that many people would simply brush the experience off (yes, i know–) and that i am “not a very hearty person” because it scared me so much. I know that too- but….. but… but…. That said, he spent all summer in Ibiza on a news fast….
What is my point? i guess to get some of this off my chest. Most of my friends have been supportive & I am sure that this is these people’s way of showing support.. but i just wonder why a few *male* friends interpret what happened in this way. No females have. I am left thinking perhaps it is a macho thing- is it because i did not spend the summer at the mall putting on makeup? Is it b/c they spent all summer get man-cials while drinking soy lattes when really they wished they were crossing the sahara atop a cargo truck? i don’t know… but no matter, i hope there is some therapeutic benefit of airing my dirty laundry here in cyberspace.
Hi, Have not blogged in a long time for probably obvious reasons- while in Iran i knew that was a no-go. In Lebanon & Syria I did not want anyone there to be able to track me or know where I was- call me paranoid ; ) I feel i have to address a few questions that have been raised following what happened in Iran:
1. What happend to me is NOTHING compared to what the Iranian people live with- especially now.
2. I have been to Iran three times- the past three years my focus has been on fostering understanding between the everyday people of America & the everyday people of Iran (not our governments- i am not a politician). Having everyday people understand eachother when we have few opportunities for real life ineraction is a massive undertaking, that of course i know i am not able to single-handedly tackle-but- as I wrote here long ago- this is just my tiny meagre contribtion to that. Iran is a very different place than what was portrayed in the media the past few decades (since June that is changing).. I wanted to let everyday Americans know the truth about Iranians-since they are truly hospitable kind people- quite different from what we saw in teh media. I have written about this before, been interviewed by journalists in the past, and have also spoken at events such as the Axis Of Friendhsip festival in 2008 regarding my hopes. I did not go to Iran in June as a novice who was ”swept up” in the “trendiness” of the green wave. I have many friends there -some of who are like family- I like to see them- they mean alot to me. I wanted to be with my friends there during what potentially could have been a positive time. No one predicted the situation to deteriorate as quickly as it did. No matter, the real reason i was abudcted by the Basij is because they & the government do not want ANY foreign eyes there to witness the atrocities happening. They were trying to intimidate & scare ousiders to leave. They saw me read CNN- a news site that their government has conveniently deemed ”terrorist trouble maker.” it really had far less to do with teh interaction i had wit the undercover Basiji & more to do with their zero tolerance policy that started the day before (ironic since i was trying to read CNN to find out just what was said at the Ayatollah’s prayer- and what did it mean- for me- a foreign tourist, ie: should i leave?).
3. When you see a brief clip of a much longer interview focusing on the fear I felt when abducted I know it may appear naive & foolish- to trust someone in Iran. Fact is human beings make decisions based on what they have been conditioned and actually experienced in life. Would I let a stanger hail a taxi for me in Moscow? No. Would I agree with negative comments about the government in say China? No. Would I walk home in the dark a half mile from my own apartment in San Francisco? No. However In Iran- by all means yes. In my past experiences in Iran the vast majority of people there verbally bash their government- all the time. In hindsite i see that it was a hyper sensitive time and i could have exercised more caution- but lesson learned. Unfortunately now i think there wil be many more secret police. Don’t feel sorry for the tourist- feel sorry for the everyday ppl who have too live there under such renewed oppression of all divergent thought & idea.
4. I am now in Jordan- I let a young man (stranger) hail a taxi for me yesterday. In this part of the world hospitality is unparalelled- much different than in a western nation. As i have said here on my blog over the years- I find Iran to be THE most hospitable and one of the safest nations I have ever visited. The custom there is “the guest is next to God.” We stand so much to learn from this. I am sorry if it seems naive – because in reality it is not. if you are paranoid- you are the one who misses out. I and many others travel b/c we like to experience something different from our own culture. I do not travel with my guard up in places which have proven that they could be trusted- this was literally the 1st time i have ever been stung by trusting too much in the middle east. Granted, i now have adjusted how I travel and have been far more cautious. I am sure I am missing out on positive experiences with people as as result, but it is just where I am at in my head right now. Fact is most of the world is a very friendly place with good people- a small minority of people are bad eggs. The bastard Basiji who got me was just that- a minority in a nation of good people. The only way to truly know that and trust this though is to get out & experience it.
On 6/20/2009 I was abducted by a militia group, the Basij, in Tehran. They thought I was a spy. Here are some CNN & ABC links:
ABC interview segment & link:
- Some photos from Misrata… stories to follow.
- The Boat to Misrata (Libya): Men’s quarters vs. Women’s quarters
- Why I had to visit Misrata (Libya).
- Greetings from Benghazi, Libya
- Just another day in Cairo…