December 7, 2005

An Iranian Democrat

Excerpts from an interview with Iranian journalist and democracy activist Amir Abbas Fakhravar. I think this is what a freedom fighter looks like.

Iranian Amir Abbas Fakhravar is a hunted man. A former medical student and journalist for the now-banned reform newspapers Moshareka and Khordad, Fakhravar came to prominence with the publication of his book This Place Is Not a Ditch, in which he criticized Iran’s rulers and called on the Iranian people to reject the mullahs’ regime. For doing so, he was sentenced in 2002 to eight years in prison. His status as a political prisoner and his mistreatment while incarcerated — he was reportedly denied medical care, and suffered frequent physical attacks — brought international attention and demands for his release. The mullahs proved less than accommodating, but they did allow Fakhravar occasional prison leaves in order to visit his family and take his university exams. In May of this year, while on such a leave, he decided he had had enough, and ran. He has been a fugitive ever since, and moves about Iran in an effort to escape the authorities.

Fakhravar’s decision to run and his pesky refusal to keep quiet have put his life in danger. An Iranian tribunal informed his sister earlier this year that Iran’s anti-riot police have a standing order to shoot him on sight. But the threat of death appears not to have intimidated him, and he continues to devote his energies to the cause of Iranian democracy.

He does this by communicating with Iranian students, whom he characterizes as deeply hostile to the rulers in Tehran. It is a strange commentary on the extent to which Iranian speech is suppressed — and on the peculiarities of the Internet age — that among the best ways for Fakhravar to reach his audience is by speaking with American journalists whose work finds its way to the Iranian underground...

...Fakhravar believes the theocracy has failed in its efforts to inspire hatred of the United States and Israel: “For two decades, they have been teaching us that the U.S. and Israel are our enemies. But we think the people who live in these countries are our brothers and sisters, and if they try to do anything in Iran in the near future, we know it is solely to help us get rid of this regime.”

It's all good.

Posted by dan at December 7, 2005 10:01 PM