October 7, 2020, Amsterdam
Contact: Kamran Ashtary, email@example.com
Arseh Sevom announces Project Bani Adam, for equality and opposing hate and discrimination.
For the past several years, we’ve been following a worrying increase in hate speech in the Persian-speaking community. There has been an uptick in Holocaust denial and racist and dehumanizing communication, some of it sponsored by the Islamic Republic of Iran. This project addresses the hate and discrimination spreading in Persian-speaking communities.
The Arseh Sevom team is dedicating itself to changing that discourse. We have taken the words of the poet Saadi to heart:
Adam’s children are limbs of one body
That in creation are cut from one gem.
When life and time hurt a limb,
Other limbs will not be at ease.
You who are not sad for the suffering of others,
Do not deserve to be called human.
بنیآدم اعضای یک پیکرند
که در آفرينش ز یک گوهرند
چو عضوى بهدرد آورَد روزگار
دگر عضوها را نمانَد قرار
تو کز محنت دیگران بیغمی
نشاید که نامت نهند آدمی
Bani Adam is the Persian term for human beings. Literally, it means “children of Adam.” Arseh Sevom named this project for the poem by Saadi which reminds us that we share our humanity with each other. We are not alone. Our destiny is entwined and love and shared responsibility are absolutely necessary for us to ensure the future. Saadi tells us that discrimination and hate hurt the whole of society.
We encourage people to speak out against hate speech and take more responsibility for ensuring that the rights of systematically oppressed communities are guaranteed. Arseh Sevom’s Executive Director Kamran Ashtary says:
“If we’ve learned anything the past few decades it’s this: our fates and our lives are interconnected. Those of us living outside of Iran have had to find ways to live in new societies and new cultures. Many of us have faced discrimination and hate because we are outsiders. At the same time, we have contributed to hate and discrimination through our own language and actions. We are not only victims. We are not only perpetrators. There are many ways we interact in society.
For me, personally, seeing the growth in Holocaust denial being spread in the Persian community and the casual ways we express racism has been especially eye-opening and painful. I really believe we can change. I believe that we can be better in our language and our actions. But we won’t unless we work at it. That’s why Arseh Sevom is founding this new project.”
We know that looking at the ways we ourselves contribute to discrimination and hate can be hard. We are determined to become comfortable with discomfort.
The team at Arseh Sevom understands that building a fair and just society means starting with those made most vulnerable in the current system. If we advocate for the rights of the most vulnerable, everyone wins. That’s just the way it works.
For years, we have been seeing how hateful and dehumanizing messages have been spreading in our community. We’ve noted how those messages are used to persecute and oppress. And we’ve seen how groups of people are dehumanized.
Project Bani Adam is going to be a challenge. We won’t always get things right, and we are prepared for that. We promise to keep learning, to keep sharing, and to keep holding ourselves accountable for our own mistakes and misjudgments.
This is a volunteer effort. Our arms are open to organizations and individuals who want to help. Donations are welcome.