Lila Ghobady 


Why didn’t I vote in the latest elections for the president of the country of my birth, Iran? Because no matter who is the president of Iran, they would stone me!


As a young Iranian woman, I require big changes in order to convince myself that a change in president would mean an improvement of my basic rights as human being inside Iran.


Here are some simple facts that demonstrate that irrespective of who is president, I would be stoned to death in Iran:


  1. As a woman whose husband refused to divorce her when she escaped the country and came to Canada as a refugee, I am considered this man’s wife as long as I am alive. It does not matter if I live separated from him for years, have divorced him in my new country and am in a relationship with a new man. Under Iranian laws and the Iranian constitution, which are based on strict Islamic laws, I am considered his wife and am at risk of being stoned for “adultery” if I ever go back to Iran. In fact as a woman, I have no right to divorce my husband under the country’s law while he has the privilege of marrying three more times without divorcing me. This is the case no matter who is the president of Iran; Ahamdinejad or Mousavi.


  2. As a journalist and film maker, I am called upon by the Islamic Republic of Iran to respect the red lines. These “red lines” include belief and respect for the Supreme Leader and the savagely unjust rules of Islamic law in my country. I am expected not to write or demand equal rights, as this is not permitted under the law. I am not allowed to make the underground films I have made about the plight of sex trade workers and other social diseases rampant within Iran, as I did secretly 12 years ago. In fact I am not allowed to make any film without the permission and without censorship by Iran’s Minister of Culture. Imagine – Iran has a Minister of Culture, who decides what is culturally acceptable, or not! If I did openly do all these things in Iran, I would disappear, I would be tortured, I would be raped, I would be killed as so many women journalist, film makers and activists in Iran have been. Among these are included Zahara Kazemi, the Iranian-Canadian photo journalist, who was brutally tortured and murdered for attempting to photograph and publicize brutalities committed by the Iranian regime.


  3. I would be considered an infidel if I was born into a Muslim family and later converted to another religion or simply decided to consider myself a non-believer who does not follow strict Islamic morality. My branding as an infidel would result in my public murder, probably by stoning. No matter who is the president of Iran.


  4. I would be lashed in public, raped in jail and stoned to death for selling my body in order to bring food to my family, as so many unfortunate Iranian women have been forced to do, as a single mother with no social assistance in a rich but deeply corrupted country like Iran. Even the simple crime of being in love, engaged in a relationship outside of marriage, or worse yet, giving birth to a human being out of Islamic wedlock. The product of such a union would be considered a bastard and would be taken away from me, and I would receive 100 lashes immediately after giving birth to my baby, No matter who is the president of Iran.


  5. No matter who is the president of Iran, I would be denied a university education, a government job and a say in politics and it would be as if I basically did not exist if I was a Baha’i. I would be considered half a Shia Muslim, in all levels of society if I was Christian, Jewish, Zoroastrian or even a Sunni Muslim, no matter who is the president of Iran.


  6. No matter who is the president of Iran, I would disappear and be found dead (if I was lucky) if I were to keep writing and demanding my basic rights as a woman and intellectual who has no say in politics. (There was not even one female minister in the so-called “reformist cabinet” of Mohamad Khatami) If I argue and challenge the authorities that despite the fact that Iran is one of the richest countries in the planet when it comes to resources, still 70% of my people live in poverty because of corruption among the leaders. Huge numbers of children go to sleep on empty stomachs. Little girls are forced to sell their bodies in the streets of Tehran, Dubai and even China, just to survive. I would be jailed or disappeared no matter who is president of Iran.


  7. No matter who is the president of Iran, I would not be able to be a judge or even a witness in court, as a woman. This is because in front of an Islamic Court judge two women equal one man. No matter how educated and aware I might be, I would be considered half of a man who might be at a demonstrably much lower level of education and reliability, No matter who is the president of Iran.


  8. No matter who is the president of Iran, I would be lashed in public if I did not cover my head and body in public in compliance with the mandatory Islamic dress code. If I would be cut at a private family/friend/ wedding taking place in mixed company I would be punished for the crime of not being covered. Much worse would happen if I was caught drinking. It would not matter if I considered myself a non-believer of Islam who simply does not want to follow Islamic rules. I would be punished harshly, lashed, raped while in custody, before going on trial, No matter who is the president of Iran.


  9. No matter who is the president of Iran, I would be killed if I was openly a homosexual. I would be denied all rights as a human being since homosexuality considered one of greatest possible sins under the Iranian Islamic regime. I would be considered a criminal and be killed because “there are no homosexuals in Iran!’ That’s odd, because some of my closest friends in Iran say they are gay, but stayed “in the closet” for fear of execution, No matter who is the president of Iran.


  10. No matter who is the president of Iran, Iranian activists living in exile, including myself and many others who are openly opposed to the regime for its cruel human rights violations, will not be able to enter the country. We would be caught at the airport by the regime’s police forces and forced to apologize and sign an apology letter for our actions against the regime. If we refused, we would be jailed without trial for wanting freedom for our fellow people. I would be denied of my basic rights as an opposition to the regime and would be called “spy”, jailed, tortured, raped and executed, This would happen regardless of who was the president of Iran.


This is Iran. This is what it means to live under Ayotollah Khameini and his goons. No change is possible while Iran is controlled by autocratic, fundamentalist religious despots who determine the laws of the land. There has been no real election. Candidates are all hand-picked and cleared by a central religious committee. It is a farcical imitation of the free nomination/ election process that we have pictured in the free world. There is no possibility that a secular, pluralistic, freedom-loving democratic person who loves his or her country can become a candidate to run for president (or any other office) in Iran.


Let us not forget that Mousavi was Prime Minister of Iran in the 1980s, when more than ten thousand political prisoners were executed after three-minute sham trials. He has been a part of the Iranian dictatorship system for the past 30 years. If he had not been, he would not be allowed to be a candidate in the first place.


For these and many other reasons, I did not choose to vote and instead to boycott the election, along with many other Iranians. But this time, many Iranians who boycotted the vote in the last election voted in this one because of their profound disgust with President Ahamdinejad. I sympathize with them, but I believe that there exists no better option for the people of Iran than to entirely overthrow the Islamic regime that oppresses the country of my birth. I strongly support my people’s movement against the ever-present dictatorship and violence infecting my country. I will scream, along with my compatriots, “Down with dictators!” “Down with murderers!” “Down with the brutal oppression that is the Islamic regime and all of its toxic, self-serving alliances.”


Long live freedom in Iran!


Lila Ghobady is an exiled Iranian writer-journalist and film maker living in Canada since 2002. She has been involved with human rights since working as a journalist in Iran and has continued her work in Canada when she arrived as a refugee. She has worked as a Producer and associate Director of internationally-acclaimed underground films along with fellow exiled film maker Moslem Mansouri before leaving Iran. Her recent film Forbidden Sun Dance has been shown in India, France, Canada and Sweden. As a journalist, she received the BlogHer of the Week award for her Review piece on Slum dog Millionaire in March 2009. Lila has received her master’s degree in Canadian/women studies from Carleton University in Ottawa.


For more information, please read her blog at:


Lila can be contacted by e-mail at: lilacforfreedom@ <> 


(Submitted by Feroz Mehdi) 

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