Thursday, November 28, 2013

Life can be so sad sometimes

Good day,

I just talked to the son of another friend of mine whom I could not reach for several weeks.Her phone had been disconnected.

It turns out that his Mom is in emergency care waiting for a spot at the Baycrest Hospital residence. She has Alzheimers.  I did notice a marked deterioration in her manner of speaking in the last few months but thought it might just be due to older age.  I don't know her age but I think she may be only in her 80's.  My other friend is 96 and she is now in a Retirement Residence.

At least I know where she is now.

I have had tests at Baycrest many years ago and have found the staff there very nice. It is a good Jewish hospital, very clean and seems to be well run just from my observances at that time. That was at least 20 years ago since I was there but I would imagine that it is still a well run place.

While I was there, I saw something that stuck with me all these years and I wrote a poem about this experience which you will find below.

The Cry

“Mama, Mama, where are you?”
 voice of desperation  
reaches me, brings tears.

Startled, I glance up
distracted from my task
eyes focus on old man
restrained in wheelchair.

Body diminished by disease
stuck in the grip of dementia
calling out for Mama

Little boy in old man’s body
longing for a long ago time
where he was loved and cherished
by his Mama, long deceased..

It  won’t be long and he shall go
to meet his Mama once again  
whose love will enfold him
as it did, upon this earth.

Copyright©WilmaSeville 2013

I still feel the pain in his voice as my memory takes me back to this old man looking for his Mom. I wanted just to hold this man so he would not feel so adrift and lost.  It still brings tears to my eyes when I replay this scene in my mind's eyes.

 Women have been given such an important role in life, that of nurturer and sustainer.  It does not matter if they give birth to a child or if they see a need in another human being and take on the role of "mother".  I have a friend in Toronto who never had children.  She nurtured other people's children and filled an empty spot in these children's lives.

I have seen that quality mostly in women but there are also some wonderful men who become "Big Brothers" to a boy without a father, or mentor younger men in the business world, or on a sports team.
Kudos to them!

Each of us have been given unique talents which we can chose to use or like parable about the servants in the Bible who were given a certain amount of money, two used it well according to what they were given and were suitably rewarded., while another it in the ground and did nothing, and thus lost his golden opportunity.

What talents are you, yourself, using to make this hurting world a little better?

If you are using your talents, congratulations, if not, why not?  It is never too late to start again and use what we have been given.

On that note, have a wonderful day and keep warm on this chilly day!

Thanks for dropping by.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Break-in sours gourmet hot sauce business launch

Break-in sours gourmet hot sauce business launch

What a disgraceful thing to happen to an enterprising young couple who worked hard to make a go of things. I am pleased to see that they will carry on in spite of what happened.

Friday, November 22, 2013

My Photo
Jafar Bahkish

Mothers of Khavaran; a Strong Voice for Truth and Justice in Iran

Kaveh Shahroz’s article in Ottawa Citizen on May 28, 2013, “How Canada Can Lead On Iran” explains very well the pain that has been inflected by the Islamic Republic of Iran (the IRI) on the victims and victims’ families in last thirty five years, prevalence of “The culture of impunity” and a long overdue proper reaction/action by international community on systematic and widespread human rights violations by the IRI.
However, I would like to look at the 80s atrocities and their consequences from a different aspect, which has not been elaborated in Kaveh’s article.
Kaveh wrote about his young uncle, Mehrdad, 20 at the time of arrest in 1980. Mehrdad was sentenced to ten years imprisonment in the early 80s. After seven years of hardship and torture inside prison, Mehrdad was hanged along with four thousands political prisoners, in the 1988 prison massacre, under the direct order of ayatollah Khomeini, the then supreme leader.
It is heart breaking when Kaveh wrote: “We still don’t know exactly when he was executed or where his body is buried. My family has never truly recovered from that loss. My grandmother and mother have both passed away since then, both with the unfulfilled wish of seeing justice in Mehrdad’s case. “ This is a pain shared by many similar families in Iran.
In transitional justice literature, it is claimed that although, dictatorial regimes suppress political and social activists, ironically, the suppressions lead to other types of resistance. Victims’ families and many others become active in order to save the life of their loved ones and ask for truth and justice. Is Iran an exception?
It has been 33 years since the mass executions of political activists in the early 80s, and 25 years since the 1988 prison massacre, yet victims’ families still do not know the truth and have not seen justice. It is important to ask, with about 20,000 thousands victims, and hundreds of thousands of political prisoners and exiles; why has a strong movement for truth and justice not been established in Iran? Is it only because Canada and other countries did not act properly? Then, why is it that such a strong movement for truth and justice in Latin America and other parts of the world is evident, despite the fact that in many cases, United State, Russia (Former Soviet Union) and China and their allies supported the dictators?
In the 80s, the IRI put enormous pressure on the victims’ families to stay silent in the face of the atrocities that were happening inside prisons all around Iran. Although a majority of victims’ families were forced to comply with this brutal policy, few hundreds of victims’ families, known as Mothers of Khavaran, became a voice for justice and truth inside Iran.
Before 1988 prison massacre, these families, tried to save their loved ones or improve the prison condition. They knew that the prisoners did not have any right to defend themselves. So it was up to family to do that. I remember in the 80s, my mother along with other mothers, sisters and wives of political prisoners, gathered in front of governmental buildings to submit their requests for fair trial and improvement of prison conditions.
In the 80s, each Friday, and despite all the harassment, they went to Khavaran cemetery, a piece of land where non-believer victims were buried in single or mass graves. The authorities named it “doomed land”, to show their disrespect.
In the 80s, family arrest was very common. In 1984, when I released from prison, after they kept me inside for 15 months, without any accusation, two of my siblings were killed and were buried in unknown grave in Khavaran and three others were in notorious Evin prison. Families like mine acted as a connecting point between families of political prisoners and executed.
In summer of 1988, when the authorities canceled all prison visits and isolated prisoners, again this group of families went to the officials to find out what was happening inside of the prisons. They felt that something terrible was happening. It was autumn of 1988, after about four months of being in the dark, we received the horrible news. My brothers, Mohammad-Ali and Mahmoud, and my brother in law, Mehrdad Panahi, were among four thousands victims of the massacre.
In 1989, the first anniversary of the 1988 prison massacre, Mothers of Khavaran decided to hold a public commemoration in Khavaran cemetery. Each year on September first or the closest Friday to it, the only semi formal commemoration inside Iran has been held In Khavaran cemetery by Mothers of Khavaran, despite of all the harassment by the IRI. In the last thirty three years, many of them have been arrested or summoned by the authorities.
Mothers of Khavaran also hold commemorations in their residence. Many times the authorities have attacked the ceremonies and summoned the participants. They have collectively gone to officials, sent collective and personal letters, filed complaints, given interviews to media outside of Iran and written numerous articles about the atrocities and harassment that the families have faced.
My mother and my sister are among them. In the 80s and 90s, my mother was summoned several times to the ministry of intelligence to prevent her pursuit of justice and truth. My sister has also been arrested and summoned many times. I was part of this group of courageous families before I immigrated to Canada in 2002.
Shirin Ebadi, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, in her book, “Golden Cage”, explains her experience when she went to Khavaran cemetery:
I recognized the woman they called Mother, the spokes-woman of their grief… She was about seventy years old. Mother slowly raised her arm and began to speak. The buzzing stopped, “Today we’re here to remember. We know that blood can’t wash away blood. We are women, not guerrilla fighters. Wives and mothers and daughters and sisters who have already seen more than enough violence. Killing the murderers will not bring back the victims…” “silence, infidel! They weren’t victims—they were traitors, and they deserved to die!” We’d been surrounded by women and men of the goruh-e feshar. The forces that attacked and broke up public demonstrations were once again ready to act."
With the persistence of Mothers of Khavaran, Khavaran cemetery became a prominent symbol of systematic and widespread human rights violation in Iran and Mothers of Khavaran became a strong voice for truth and justice in Iran.
I agree with Kaveh Shahrooz that it is very important that the international community recognize the massacre of 1988 as a “crime against humanity”, it is long overdue.
But it is more important to emphasise that without active and effective dialogue with the younger generations, without an attempt to involve civil society in this discourse; it will not possible to pursue truth and justice.
Facing past atrocities and asking for truth and justice is a social process. Mothers of Khavaran are a nucleus for such social movement. But both opposition political parties that want to overthrow the IRI by any means and reformist faction of the IRI, who have direct and indirect responsibility for the 80s massacres are ignoring them.
After 33 years of systematic suppression in Iran, and after 33 years resistance by some victims’ families, there is no recognition for Mothers of Khavaran and other groups of families, such as families of the victims of political killing in 1998. May be because, Mothers of Khavaran, distanced themselves from political parties. May be because the families did not discriminate against each other because of political affiliation of the victims? Or maybe because their goal was to neither forget, nor overthrow the government.
They simply ask for their basic rights; why, where, when, by whom and under whose orders were the victims executed? Where are their bodies? Why aren’t the families allowed to hold commemorations in public and private spaces? Why do the authorities harass the families when they ask for their basic rights? .
This year is the 25th anniversary of the 1988 prison massacre. I urge and ask the human rights community in Canada to recognize and acknowledge the efforts that have been made by Mothers of Khavaran for truth and justice and to ask the IRI to stop their harassment.

Jafar Behkish
June 2nd, 2013

Editor's Note:  I have received permission from Mr. Behkish to post this article on my personal blog. This all came about because of a poem I wrote about a young 17 years old girl who was deported back to Iran even though she had been a baby when she came.  A fellow poet heard my poem and sent me the link to Mr. Behkish's article.  I read his article which touched me very much and wanted to share it with my readers.

It is very interesting to see how things work - I don't believe in coincidences.  If I had not taken my poem for critiquing to that particular group, this article for the blog would never happen.  I have never met this gentleman but my fellow poet knows him.

I also learned from another source that 5,000 people were exterminated in Evin Prison in a very short period of time  during the reign of the Shah.  According to what I have learned, Evin prison held mostly political prisoners.  To this day, I believe it is mostly political prisoners there also.

My own participation with the Iranian family who was deported back to Iran was for many years.  Some readers may know that I worked with refugees from Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan as well as Central American countries many years ago.  A few became personal friends.


Fifteen years of waiting, living in suspense  
my freedom about to be dashed
the day has arrived – the day I dread
Forced to leave the only home I know

Pounding at the front door vibrates in my head
echoes in my ears, jerks me awake – afraid!
In her sleep, Maadar cries out in Farsi

The banging continues, it will not stop
I cling to my pillow as  a life raft
I am in the sea, surrounded by sharks.

I force my legs to move - to answer the door
Immigration barges in, Maadar awakes,
shrieks and cowers -  terrified –  memories vivid
of Evin Prison in Tehran - torture

Stern faces gaze at us, show no mercy
here to escort us to the plane
shipped back to a country I don’t know
my education in English – not equipped for life
in a country with foreign ways and  tongue.

I hope by posting this article and this poem, those who read it will give a thought to people who suffer under oppression, perhaps they may consider joining organizations such as Amnesty International to help prisoners of conscience. In my poem, I have tried to put a human face to people fleeing their own country and trying for refugee status in Canada.

This is the world a 17 year old girl, along with her Mother was sent back to.  A child who was raised with Canadian/Iranian values, taught in Canadian schools and who was totally a Canadian in her outlook and approach to life.  Put yourself in this child's shoes, sent back to a country and ways that she did not know.

Thank you for dropping by to read this and I hope you will have a good day.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Visit from Peter and LeeAnne

They arrived here in Hamilton at approximately 10:30 after leaving at 7 a.m.  They live around Wiarton which is their nearest town.

We had a short visit at home and then I took them to the club.  I had never met LeeAnne before but we were "friends" on Facebook because of Peter originally.

I took them to the club for lunch and we had a lovely time.  After that, we did a tour of the art work as Peter is an artist.

Also LeeAnne is learning how to become an Art Therapist so I think it was of interest for her too.

I am really glad that LeeAnne and I have finally met.  I liked her very much and think they seem happy together.  They met each other 25 years ago and then renewed the friendship over the internet I think a couple of years ago.  They are now together.

They had to leave by 1:30 so we could only do a short tour of the art work.

LeeAnne had her course to do in Toronto.

LeeAnne and Peter Nov. 21,2013

Peter at my place

LeeAnne and Peter

The three of us in the Club's dining room


the famous Club butter tart!

A short but lovely visit.  I had not seen my nephew for about 15 years.

Thanks for dropping by.

Monday, November 18, 2013


Yesterday, Sunday, November 17th early in the morning I received a call from Banu, Hayati's niece to tell me that he had died that morning in the nursing home where he lived. He was 85 years of age.

She had been in Turkey for the last six months but returned to Canada  five days ago.  Happily she was able to visit her uncle twice in that time. She has been a wonderful niece to him and a fantastic and loving daughter to her mother Fevizye.

I have so many good memories of Hayati.  His sense of humour, his gentlemanly behaviour, his love for my children and his affection for me.  Even when we split up, we remained good friends for 36 years more and were in communication by phone when I moved to Hamilton.  On one of my trips to Toronto, I visited him for a short while.  Although the outer shell which is the body had changed into an old man, the inner person which I cared for, never changed.  He asked me if I remembered the "good old times" and, of course, I did.

I was invited to visit his family in Turkey in 1977 and I stayed with them for a month, staying at Robert College in Istanbul.  His mother and sister Fevziye welcomed me with open arms and treated me as a member of the family.  I met his brother and his sister-in-law in Bursa and his nieces and we did some travelling through Turkey.  I saw the real Turkey, not just the tourist attractions.

I have taken out my photo book to look at pictures of that trip.  I will try and take some photos of the photos I took so many years ago.  Hopefully you will be able to see them a little bit.

I will never forget how kind and good his family was to me.  His mother reminded me so much of my Irish grandmother in her looks.  I remember doing some ironing in their kitchen and Mrs.Kurtulan spreading out her prayer mat and praying.  I loved that.

Hayati, Mrs. Kurtulan and myself in Turkey at Robert College

The Blue Mosque in the background - note the many people just in this snapshot.

The first picture was taken on the balcony of their apartment overlooking the Bosphorus Sea.

Turkish airline ticket to travel within Turkey

The ever inquisitive resident cat, looking at the picture book from long ago
This is a statue of Mary, the Mother of Jesus in her last home which is believed to be in Ephesus in Turkey.  In Islam, Mary and Jesus are highly regarded.

Inside the Blue Mosque

Robert College where the family had an apartment

The ship we took to go to Yalova

The young me on the ship
The trip was a wonderful highlight in our relationship but the most important part was our companionship and our respect for each other.  Hayati was very special in my life and I will miss him.

May Almighty God forgive him of any sin which he has not repented before dying and grant him Paradise.

May God grant peace and comfort to his niece and her husband and son.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Writing and Publishing blog: DONNA DESMARTEAUX-GIRARD

Writing and Publishing blog: DONNA DESMARTEAUX-GIRARD:

  Crossroads I stumble along, unsteady and unsure, weaving from side to side. Looking back, my footprints mimic the map of some crazy n...

Click on the link above and you will see her short story.

Here is a picture of her.


Sunday, November 3, 2013

A lovely event at Carnegie Gallery today

Today was a special day with bright sunshiny weather to match the event.  Jennifer picked me up at my back door and Jennifer T and Jennifer F and myself proceeded to go out to Dundas in Jennifer's car.

In September, Tower poets were invited to go out to Dundas to pick a picture to write a poem about.  I participated and picked out a lovely picture and wrote a poem.

We got there early enough to go on the art walk which began at 1 p.m.  Jeff and Fran were the leaders on this walk and at each store that had exhibited the work, they stopped and read the poetry aloud.  It was very nice indeed to have it read so well.

My own poem was exhibited but unfortunately it had fallen down so nobody could read it.  Jennifer mentioned it to Jeff that they had not read my poem, so he was very kind and read it out loud from his typed pages.

It was lovely to hear the poems read out loud especially on such a gorgeous fall day.

After the art walk, we all went into the Carnegie Gallery.  I was very happy to see that the new elevator was now in operation so I used that.

Our eyes fell on pottery, jewellery, felt work and art on the walls as we entered this lovely spot.  There was a tea table set up  with several types of tea provided by a local tea shop.   The lady was very gracious as she served this elegant beverage in delicate English tea cups.  The name of the company which provided the tea is Coco Tea, and it is on 63 Main Street in Dundas, Ontario.  Their telephone number is 905-627-7322.

People were encouraged to partake of the light refreshments provided by the Gallery - different types of cheeses, a fruit platter and different types of sweets including shortbread cookies.

The readings started shortly after 2 p.m.

Jeff reading a poet's work on King Street.   Photo credit  Ed Woods
Fran Figge - co-leader of walk    Photo credit Ed Woods

Carnegie Gallery - across the street.   Photo Credit Ed Woods
Art Walk - Jeff reading.  Photo credit Ed Woods

Gaiyle Connelly
Valerie Nielsen - past President of Tower

Wilma Seville - past secretary of Tower

Jennifer Tan 

Soraya Erian

Marianne Vespry

Ellen Ryan

Fran Figge

Jeff Seffinga

Jim Tomkins

Ed Woods
The refreshment table - observe the wonderful flowers