A Letter To My Readers
Living in Hell is the true life story of my life and the life of many women like me. It is an absolutely true story with no embellishing fiction.
In 2005, Living in Hell was published in hard copy. I received a barrage of e-mails pointing out typos. Everyone in the publishing industry experiences this dilemma. It may take a village to raise a child but when the writer becomes the face of a book, whatever goes wrong is her or his fault. The original book was 488 pages, 227,426 words and 1.590.591 characters. Seventeen typos eluded our edits and the names of Khamenei and Khomeini were misplaced in one paragraph. Contrary to the accusations, my work did not lack authenticity or research. All my research was done in the Library of Congress as noted under FAQ in the website. I thought this was sufficient to show I did my job but for many people who read a few words or heard remarks on a talk show, I became the villain of the Iranian media; located mostly in Los Angeles.
I wrongly assumed when I wrote this book that openness about facts, not only what happened to me but to others as well, would be appreciated by those who had no one to speak for them. I wanted to help heal people who had suffered similar situations. I thought, even if I was not welcomed, I would not be cast out. I naively hoped for some glimpse of appreciation and never imagined that Iranians and Americans would actively try to discredit such a taboo breaker. I was wrong. During the original tour in 2005, I received much hate e-mail and phone calls; not only from Iranian men inside Iran but also Iranian men and women in the United States; some even from university teachers and students.
I was puzzled by the mockery. One particular accusation, “No one can survive such a life; therefore it can only be fiction.” has stayed with me; as if I had chosen this life. The truth is: I did not have a choice about the life I lived and survived and I certainly did not deserve to be stabbed in the heart and mocked for trying to raise the awareness of Iranians. I soon realized vengeance is unlimited. Some suggested, “She is an attractive woman and made up a story to become popular.” Apparently, some perceive becoming a frequent guest of US media is a big deal but in all honesty, it wasn’t to me.
When I came to the United States from Canada, I realized Iranians inside Iran needed their stories honestly and truthfully told; not as fictional excerpts from a few successful books. My interviews were based on that fact. I started an NGO, Iranfuture.org, to aid Iranian people; all on my own dime and time. I tried to help political prisoners’ families and people who needed my attention; such as the witness I located in the case of Iranian/Canadian photographer Zahra Kazemi. I even helped a few cases of women rights, such as the rape victim in Saudi Arabia.
In peeling back the layers of Iranian opposition and their hate toward me, I made more discoveries. I found that, contrary to a common myth in the US, Iranian opposition is not all about Iran. Some are in the game to afford an opportunity to be part of socially elite clubs of some US politicians, to meet them in person and create the impression they know Iranians inside Iran. Or, to simply take a photo with politicians to upload on social sites; their webpage for Iranians inside Iran and newsletters and e-mails to promote the idea that they have connections and are active expatriates. Or, just to have lunch with them in the Senate or at White House annual party! Virtually all of these so-called ‘opposition’ claim they know what does and doesn’t work for Iran. I became curious and found it pays rather well when a US politician trusts these people. It is a simple and wide ranging symbiotic relationship. Donations to campaigns open doors to grants and opportunities. I didn’t fit into any of these societies so my work was entirely free of charge to those I helped.
In reply to all those who called me a gold digger or opportunist, my appearances on Fox, CNN, MSNBC, NBC and C-SPAN were never about money. I received none. I simply wanted a podium for those who need a voice. One of these so-called opposition activists alleged that I had received three million dollars in grants from the US government. I have applied for and been denied grants for my NGO but I have never received a penny in grants from the United States government.
Among the e-mails, I received four death threats from MEK. In contrast, 17 e-mails touched my heart. They were from those who wrote to me that “Because of your story and your strength, I am not going to take my life.” I can’t describe what that means to me.
In 2008, I was asked by Neil Cavuto from Fox News to appear on his show and say that Iran already has a nuclear bomb and is ready to attack the US. My understanding of the Iranian regime is not based on rumors or fiction but on facts, evidence and contacts inside Iran. Even though I had cordially appeared on Fox many times, my relationship with Fox News ended there. I don’t believe in faking intelligence nor do I want to build a career on the blood of American soldiers and Iranians. My response to his e-mail was, “Not even the President can claim that!”
In this Kindle version, you will read an edited educational story. Part Two will chronicle the events of my last few years of work in the US entitled, “Inside the Beltway”. I hope you understand Iranian people want freedom but not by design.
If you are curious about whom I work for; I don’t work for governments, I work for people.
© 2015 Living in Hell
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