Unofficial translation of the first direct public communication sent by an Iranian president to an American president since ties between the nations were severed after the American Embassy in Tehran was seized in 1979. While an Iranian government spokesman claimed that "Ahmadinejad, in his letter, spoke of the current tense situation in the world and suggested ways of solving problems and of easing tensions", American Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice countered: "This letter isn't it. This letter is not the place that one would find an opening to engage on the nuclear issue or anything of the sort. ,It isn't addressing the issues that we're dealing with in a concrete way."
May 8, 2006
In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful,
Mr George Bush,
President of the United States of America,
For sometime now I have been thinking, how one can justify the undeniable contradictions that exist in the international arena -- which are being constantly debated, especially in political forums and amongst university students. Many questions remain unanswered. These have prompted me to discuss some of the contradictions and questions, in the hope that it might bring about an opportunity to redress them.
Can one be a follower of Jesus Christ (PBUH), the great Messenger of God, feel obliged to respect human rights, present liberalism as a civilization model, announce one’s opposition to the proliferation of nuclear weapons and WMDs, make "War on Terror" his slogan, and finally, work towards the establishment of a unified international community – a community which Christ and the virtuous of the Earth will one day govern, but at the same time, have countries attacked. The lives, reputations and possessions of people destroyed and on the slight chance of the presence of a few criminals in a village, city, or convoy for example, the entire village, city or convoy (are) set ablaze.
Or because of the possibility of the existence of WMDs in one country, it is occupied, around one hundred thousand people killed, its water sources, agriculture and industry destroyed, close to 180,000 foreign troops put on the ground, sanctity of private homes of citizens broken, and the country pushed back perhaps fifty years. At what price? Hundreds of billions of dollars spent from the treasury of one country and certain other countries and tens of thousands of young men and women – as occupation troops – put in harms way, taken away from family and loved ones, their hands stained with the blood of others, subjected to so much psychological pressure that everyday some commit suicide and those returning home suffer depression, become sickly and grapple with all sorts of ailments; while some are killed and their bodies handed to their families.
On the pretext of the existence of WMDs, this great tragedy came to engulf both the peoples of the occupied and the occupying country. Later it was revealed that no WMDs existed to begin with.
Of course Saddam was a murderous dictator. But the war was not waged to topple him, the announced goal of the war was to find and destroy weapons of mass destruction. He was toppled along the way towards another goal; nevertheless the people of the region are happy about it. I point out that throughout the many years of the imposed war on Iran Saddam was supported by the West.
You might know that I am a teacher. My students ask me how can these actions be reconciled with the values outlined at the beginning of this letter and duty to the tradition of Jesus Christ (PBUH), the Messenger of peace and forgiveness?
There are prisoners in Guantanamo Bay that have not been tried, have no legal representation, their families cannot see them and are obviously kept in a strange land outside their own country. There is no international monitoring of their conditions and fate. No one knows whether they are prisoners, POWs, accused or criminals.
European investigators have confirmed the existence of secret prisons in Europe too. I could not correlate the abduction of a person, and him or her being kept in secret prisons, with the provisions of any judicial system. For that matter, I fail to understand how such actions correspond to the values outlined in the beginning of this letter, i.e. the teachings of Jesus Christ (PBUH), human rights and liberal values.
Young people, university students, and ordinary people have many questions about the phenomenon of Israel. I am sure you are familiar with some of them.
Throughout history many countries have been occupied, but I think the establishment of a new country with a new people, is a new phenomenon that is exclusive to our times.
Students are saying that sixty years ago such a country did not exist. They show old documents and globes and say try as we have, we have not been able to find a country named Israel.
I tell them to study the history of WWI and II. One of my students told me that during WWII, which more than tens of millions of people perished in, news about the war, was quickly disseminated by the warring parties. Each touted their victories and the most recent battlefront defeat of the other party. After the war they claimed that six million Jews had been killed. Six million people that were surely related to at least two million families.
Again let us assume that these events are true. Does that logically translate into the establishment of the state of Israel in the Middle East or support for such a state? How can this phenomenon be rationalized or explained?
I am sure you know how – and at what cost – Israel was established:
- Many thousands were killed in the process.
- Millions of indigenous people were made refugees.
- Hundreds of thousands of hectares of farmland, olive plantations, towns and villages were destroyed.
This tragedy is not exclusive to the time of establishment; unfortunately it has been ongoing for sixty years now.
A regime has been established which does not show mercy even to kids, destroys houses while the occupants are still in them, announces beforehand its list and plans to assassinate Palestinian figures, and keeps thousands of Palestinians in prison. Such a phenomenon is unique – or at the very least extremely rare – in recent memory.
Another big question asked by the people is "why is this regime being supported?"
Is support for this regime in line with the teachings of Jesus Christ (PBUH) or Moses (PBUH) or liberal values?
Or are we to understand that allowing the original inhabitants of these lands – inside and outside Palestine -- whether they are Christian, Moslem or Jew, to determine their fate, runs contrary to principles of democracy, human rights and the teachings of prophets? If not, why is there so much opposition to a referendum?
The newly elected Palestinian administration recently took office. All independent observers have confirmed that this government represents the electorate. Unbelievingly, they have put the elected government under pressure and have advised it to recognize the Israeli regime, abandon the struggle and follow the programs of the previous government.
If the current Palestinian government had run on the above platform, would the Palestinian people have voted for it? Again, can such position taken in opposition to the Palestinian government be reconciled with the values outlined earlier? The people are also asking "Why are all UNSC resolutions in condemnation of Israel vetoed?"
As you are well aware, I live amongst the people and am in constant contact with them -- many people from around the Middle East manage to contact me as well. They do not have faith in these dubious policies either. There is evidence that the people of the region are becoming increasingly angry with such policies.
It is not my intention to pose too many questions, but I need to refer to other points as well.
Why is it that any technological and scientific achievement reached in the Middle East region is translated into and portrayed as a threat to the Zionist regime? Is not scientific R&D [Research & Development] one of the basic rights of nations?
You are familiar with history. Aside from the Middle Ages, in what other point in history has scientific and technical progress been a crime? Can the possibility of scientific achievements being utilized for military purposes be reason enough to oppose science and technology altogether? If such a supposition is true, then all scientific disciplines, including physics, chemistry, mathematics, medicine, engineering, etc. must be opposed.
Lies were told in the Iraqi matter. What was the result? I have no doubt that telling lies is reprehensible in any culture, and you do not like to be lied to.
Don’t Latin Americans have the right to ask why their elected governments are being opposed and coup leaders supported? Or, Why must they constantly be threatened and live in fear?
The people of Africa are hardworking, creative and talented. They can play an important and valuable role in providing for the needs of humanity and contribute to its material and spiritual progress. Poverty and hardship in large parts of Africa are preventing this from happening. Don’t they have the right to ask why their enormous wealth – including minerals – is being looted, despite the fact that they need it more than others?
Again, do such actions correspond to the teachings of Christ and the tenets of human rights?
The brave and faithful people of Iran too have many questions and grievances, including: the coup d’etat of 1953 and the subsequent toppling of the legal government of the day, opposition to the Islamic revolution, transformation of an Embassy into a headquarters supporting the activities of those opposing the Islamic Republic (many thousands of pages of documents corroborate this claim), support for Saddam in the war waged against Iran, the shooting down of the Iranian passenger plane, freezing the assets of the Iranian nation, increasing threats, anger and displeasure vis-à-vis the scientific and nuclear progress of the Iranian nation (just when all Iranians are jubilant and celebrating their country’s progress), and many other grievances that I will not refer to in this letter.
September Eleven was a horrendous incident. The killing of innocents is deplorable and appalling in any part of the world. Our government immediately declared its disgust with the perpetrators and offered its condolences to the bereaved and expressed its sympathies.
All governments have a duty to protect the lives, property and good standing of their citizens. Reportedly your government employs extensive security, protection and intelligence systems – and even hunts its opponents abroad. September eleven was not a simple operation. Could it be planned and executed without coordination with intelligence and security services – or their extensive infiltration? Of course this is just an educated guess. Why have the various aspects of the attacks been kept secret? Why are we not told who botched their responsibilities? And, why aren’t those responsible and the guilty parties identified and put on trial?
All governments have a duty to provide security and peace of mind for their citizens. For some years now, the people of your country and neighbors of world trouble spots do not have peace of mind. After 9.11, instead of healing and tending to the emotional wounds of the survivors and the American people -- who had been immensely traumatized by the attacks -- some Western media only intensified the climate of fear and insecurity – some constantly talked about the possibility of new terror attacks and kept the people in fear. Is that service to the American people? Is it possible to calculate the damages incurred from fear and panic?
American citizens lived in constant fear of fresh attacks that could come at any moment and in any place. They felt insecure in the streets, in their place of work and at home. Who would be happy with this situation? Why was the media, instead of conveying a feeling of security and providing peace of mind, giving rise to a feeling of insecurity?
Some believe that the hype paved the way -- and was the justification --for an attack on Afghanistan. Again I need to refer to the role of media.
In media charters, correct dissemination of information and honest reporting of a story are established tenets. I express my deep regret about the disregard shown by certain Western media for these principles. The main pretext for an attack on Iraq was the existence of WMDs. This was repeated incessantly -- for the public to finally believe -- and the ground set for an attack on Iraq.
Will the truth not be lost in a contrived and deceptive climate?
Again, if the truth is allowed to be lost, how can that be reconciled with the earlier mentioned values? Is the truth known to the Almighty lost as well?
In countries around the world, citizens provide for the expenses of governments so that their governments in turn are able to serve them.
The question here is "what has the hundreds of billions of dollars, spent every year to pay for the Iraqi campaign, produced for the citizens?"
As Your Excellency is aware, in some states of your country, people are living in poverty. Many thousands are homeless and unemployment is a huge problem. Of course these problems exist – to a larger or lesser extent -- in other countries as well. With these conditions in mind, can the gargantuan expenses of the campaign – paid from the public treasury – be explained and be consistent with the aforementioned principles?
What has been said, are some of the grievances of the people around the world, in our region and in your country. But my main contention – which I am hoping you will agree to some of it – is:
Those in power have a specific time in office and do not rule indefinitely, but their names will be recorded in history and will be constantly judged in the immediate and distant futures. The people will scrutinize our presidencies.
Did we mange to bring peace, security and prosperity for the people or insecurity and unemployment?
Did we intend to establish justice or just supported especial interest groups, and by forcing many people to live in poverty and hardship, made a few people rich and powerful -- thus trading the approval of the people and the Almighty with theirs’?
Did we defend the rights of the underprivileged or ignore them?
Did we defend the rights of all people around the world or imposed wars on them, interfered illegally in their affairs, established hellish prisons and incarcerated some of them?
Did we bring the world peace and security or raised the specter of intimidation and threats?
Did we tell the truth to our nation and others around the world or presented an inverted version of it?
Were we on the side of people or the occupiers and oppressors?
Did our administrations set out to promote rational behavior, logic, ethics, peace, fulfilling obligations, justice, service to the people, prosperity, progress and respect for human dignity or the force of guns, intimidation, insecurity, disregard for the people, delaying the progress and excellence of other nations, and trample on people’s rights?
And finally, they will judge us on whether we remained true to our oath of office – to serve the people, which is our main task, and the traditions of the prophets -- or not?
How much longer can the world tolerate this situation?
Where will this trend lead the world to?
How long must the people of the world pay for the incorrect decisions of some rulers?
How much longer will the specter of insecurity – raised from the stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction -- hunt the people of the world?
How much longer will the blood of the innocent men, women and children be spilled on the streets, and people’s houses destroyed over their heads?
Are you pleased with the current condition of the world?
Do you think present policies can continue?
If billions of dollars spent on security, military campaigns and troop movement were instead spent on investment and assistance for poor countries, promotion of health, combating different diseases, education and improvement of mental and physical fitness, assistance to the victims of natural disasters, creation of employment opportunities and production, development projects and poverty alleviation, establishment of peace, mediation between disputing states, and extinguishing the flames of racial, ethnic and other conflicts, were would the world be today? Would not your government and people be justifiably proud?
Would not your administration’s political and economic standing have been stronger?
And I am most sorry to say, would there have been an ever increasing global hatred of the American government?
Mr. President, it is not my intention to distress anyone.
If Prophet Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Ishmael, Joseph, or Jesus Christ (PBUH) were with us today, how would they have judged such behavior? Will we be given a role to play in the promised world, where justice will become universal and Jesus Christ (PBUH) will be present? Will they even accept us?
My basic question is this: Is there no better way to interact with the rest of the world? Today there are hundreds of millions of Christians, hundreds of millions of Muslims and millions of people who follow the teachings of Moses (PBUH).
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