From Prisoner to Patriot

October 15, 2019


The Iranian interrogator held up a ballpoint pen and warned me of its power.

“Can you see the small metal ball on the head of this pen?" he asked. "I can break your neck with this small metal ball. I only have to write two paragraphs and you'll be gone forever.”

After forty-six days of interrogation and torture, I knew that he wasn't lying. He could do whatever he wanted to me. There were no laws stopping him. He put his pen to paper and within a few hours, I found myself in Evin Prison, the scariest prison in the world.

But I was happy.

Yes, happy. I was happy to escape from my detention. Only those that have been detained know how terrible it can be. I assume my interrogator transferred me because he was tired of torturing. I was broken, but I had won.

I stayed in Evin for many months before I was released with bail. But I didn’t wait around for my court date. Instead, I fled the country with my wife and two-year-old daughter.
 
Upon arriving in Malaysia, we applied for asylum seeker status with the United Nations. During our time in the country, I fought against Iran's dictator government with my writing. I fought up until the day I was arrested by Malaysian police at the request of the Iranian government. They tried to deport me, but the United Nations hired an attorney for me, and the attorney stopped the deportation process. I was released from jail after eighteen days.

After many more years of struggle, my family and I were granted refuge in the United States. In 2015, the year of our arrival here, we were referred to World Relief, and ever since, World Relief has been part of our family.
 
The country of my birth tried to imprison me forever, but the United States gave my family and I a chance to live free.

Now it's my turn to help the United States.

I've wanted to join the United States military ever since my family was given refuge here, but for a non-citizen to join the military, a green card is required. After a year of waiting, I obtained my green card, but during my wait, the law governing military service had changed. The new law now required that non-citizens obtain national security clearance before being allowed into military service.

The process would take another fourteen months.

During this time, I'm proud to have opened and managed three different businesses, employing a total of fifteen people.
 
But my time for a different kind of service has finally come. This year, I was allowed to join the United States Army. It's now my great pleasure to serve my new country--the United States of America. I've fought my entire life for freedom and now I'm proud to be on the right side of that battle.

My wife also fights for freedom.
 
She is an animal lover that volunteers her time helping animals. She views her work with animal rescue as repayment for her own freedom. Last year, she was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis at the age of 34, but she has not given up. Her dream is now to own a farm that helps disabled animals.

I believe that we are all citizens of the world. Our continents, countries, and cities are merely part of our postal address. The right to live freely is an inherent right of all living beings on earth.

Helping a refugee resettle is like freeing a bird from a cage.