Gohar Jawanmardi

As Interviewed by Declan K., March 9, 2018

Gohar Jawanmardi: In Her Own Words

Gohar Jawanmardi: In Her Own Words
As Interviewed by Declan Kim

When the Shah was there, we were very westernized, and everybody had mini-dresses and mini-skirts. We didn’t have the hijab. Tehran was the Paris of the East; it was beautiful. But when the Shah left, that’s when the Hostage Crisis took over. Khomeini came into power, and it was a disaster. People were miserable, unhappy; everybody wanted to run away. My own boss was Christian Armenian, and I lived with a lot of Jews and Christians and Muslims. Everybody was getting along very well, but when the Revolution took place and Khomeini came into power, that’s when things got out of control, and we were afraid.

It was scary. Thank God my kids were in a boarding school. I had sent them to England, so they didn’t have to see what I saw, because when I’d get out of my house, in the streets I would see all blood, all scattered everywhere, and I was so afraid. I didn’t drive over there. I would take a taxi. I was afraid to even take a cab, all because I didn’t know what was going on.

I was afraid to even go to work. Since I was in change of everybody’s personal files, I had to check and see what I had written out there, so that they won’t know that I was a Baha’i, because I was afraid.

My boss told me, he said, “You need to go, run for your life.” And that’s when, thank God, Zia (her son) was not there. Both my boys were in a boarding school, and I had to send my mother to England. So, I was alone over there with my brother. We managed to get out. It wasn’t easy, but we did leave. But the questions that we were asked at the airport. I had to lie. I had no choice, because my life was in danger, and when they told me, “What are you going there (America) for?” I had to lie and say, “I’m going for a wedding.” And they said, “Are you gonna come back?” I said, “Of course I’m coming back.” I had to lie because there was no way I was gonna come back; they would kill me.

Well, when I was trying to get out, I saw that a lot of people were taken. I lost my best friend. They came to ask her... some questions, and then they… (pauses to wipe away tears) They took her away… And I think they killed her… I never heard from her again, and I lost a lot of my friends, and I don’t know what happened, because they were executing everyone, and that’s why I had to run for my life. And if you’re a single woman out there, they force you to get married to anybody they can find. So, it was very scary. I had to run for my life, and I had to leave. And I saw a lot of people that were so desperate, and they were telling, “Please can you help us? Please can you help us?” It was scary.

Even when I left the airport, and when they were questioning me, I was so afraid, so afraid that one wrong move, and they may not let me get on that plane. But I just left it in God’s hands, and I prayed and I said, “Please, I’ve got to get out of here.” And I said, “I have to go to a wedding. My friend is getting married.” I knew I was lying, but I had no choice, because my life was in danger. We were afraid because if you say one word, you utter one word, you’re shot. You’re executed. And there, there is nothing like having an attorney or having a lawyer tell you this or that in court. No, if you’re in their way, they just kill you.

So when I came over there, that’s the first thing I did. I asked for asylum, so I got religious asylum, because of my religion, Baha’i. And they gave me a green card. I didn’t have any problems. I got me an attorney, and he helped me to get both my kids to where I am, and my mother came too.

I wouldn’t want my worst enemy to be in that situation that I was. And when the Revolution took place and getting out of the house, and seeing all the blood on the streets. They were killing and shooting. It was horrible, horrible. Towards the end it was like… run for your life, or die.