The Cranes Return, Nowrooz Comes to an End, Racism Challenged

Arseh Sevom — In the US, April 1st is marked with practical jokes. In Iran the first of April is celebrated as Nature’s Day with millions taking to parks all over the country. Iranians around the world mark the end of the celebrations marking the new year with picnics, family, and friends. This year during the new year’s holidays, just 14 prisoners of conscience were given furlough to spend time with family.

In keeping with the theme of nature and sizdah-be-dar, we begin this week’s review with some environmental news. The cranes have returned to one of their habitats in the Salmas plain in Northwestern Iran. According to IRNA’s report they are being well protected by park rangers.

Four park rangers were injured while doing their jobs while another one, Assad Taghizadeh, is on the death row after being charged with manslaughter when he killed a poacher who had fired upon him and his co-workers. This sentence is based on the Islamic princible of Qesas (an eye for an eye). Many environmental activists have demanded Assad Taghizadeh’s release.

This year’s sizdah-be-dar also came with news that the police in Isfahan had banned Afghanis from entering a local park to picnic. The stated reason was to uphold “citizens’ security and welfare.” Afghans and Iranians share the celebration of Nowrooz. The ban led to protests on social media with many changing their facebook status to “I am an Afghan” and photographing themselves with signs stating the same. An Iranian Blogger writes:

“My Afghan brothers and sisters, I am ashamed, ashamed that my homeland Iran where you sought shelter was not a good host. I am embarrassed that you were harassed that much. I am appalled by all this racism. What could I expect from a bunch of shameless statespersons who have done all in their power all throughout these years to humiliate you? For they have been treating my nation as such, too. But I am ashamed that even my own people did not understand your pain. I am ashamed yet hopeful. I hope for better days when you and I will both live in prosperous free lands and understand the true meaning of love better than today. Let that day come true. Happy Nowrooz to you!”

On April 1, United4Iran launched Mad Graffiti Week with an action in over a dozen cities around the world calling for the release of seven Baha’i leaders who have now served a combined total of 10,000 days in prison.

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