We Stand With You: Open Letter to Iran's Youth

To the Young People of Iran,

When I first saw the images of Moussavi rallies, I couldn't help but feel nostalgic. The marches, the green clothes and rhetoric--they were all very reminiscent of what we did here when we too found a Presidential candidate that inspired more of us. I saw in you what I felt in us, an unquantifiable, indescribable, hopeful act of defiance that begged to differ with the irrelevancy ascribed to young people. I thought we had taken on the impossible in rallying to elect Barack Hussein Obama as our President. We were told that the World was with us, hoping for an Obama victory, urging on the sudden enthusiasm of a new generation. Strangers, in the most unlikely of places, confided that they were counting on us, convinced that we could make the difference.

I found new hope in your election, eager for the moment where you too would emerge triumphant. For I hoped, that in that moment, you would realize that the election was about more than your candidate. Realize that simply be engaging in the process, and winning within it, you might find affirmation in your own capabilities. You might find that after all that, nothing stood outside of the realm of possibility.

You would think that what's transpired might result in a more cynical conclusion, giving way to silent defeat. Your victory was taken and your votes dismissed. Yet, the World has watched in awe as you've reacted with graciousness, persistence and a collective courage that confirms that no, nothing stands outside of the realm of possibility.

The 5 reported dead and the 15 injured at Tehran University, the footage that speaks of unthinkable violence descending on students who dared to act like adults, who simply demanded that their government follow through on reassurances of a free and fair election, attests to this. The 119 members of the University who resigned, the countless individuals reported missing, the crowds who shouted, "Don't be scared we're all together" as gun fire sounded nearby, attests to this. The young who came to the defense of the opposition, shielding their oppressors when retaliation stood as an option, attests to this.

Your decency in the face of what's been done confirms that despite what's occurred, what made you participate has enabled you to endure. The belief that nothing, absolutely nothing, can stand in the way of freedom as a possibility.

These reports indicate what is wrong with humanity -- but in between the acts of recklessness and cruelty, emerges a story of triumph. Regardless of what happens, your stories are our stories. We find ourselves connected across oceans and continents all vying for the same thing, the agency to speak freely and to be treated as respected and relevant members of our societies.

Today, in light of the potential ramifications of the perception of US involvement, my President offered what support he could, stating:

"And particularly to the youth of Iran, I want them to know that we in the United States do not want to make any decisions for the Iranians, but we do believe that the Iranian people and their voices should be heard and respected."

Well, since I'm just a young person -- my words are my own, and this sentiment shared by my generation -- I might add, we unequivocally support and admire what you are doing. I might add that though I'm a stranger, I believe that each of you can make all the difference. I might add, that today, and for everyday going forward, we stand with you. And for those who have been made voiceless by a brutal club or a stray bullet or a rouge motorcycle, we stand for you.

It is you who are taking on the impossible -- and yet what you seek is within the realm of possibility. Be safe, be strong...our thoughts and prayers are with you.

With absolute hope,

Sara Haile-Mariam