This is an exclusive interview with Mr. Kaveh Taheri, who is Human Rights activist and a journalist from Iran who went through the Iranian prison system and lived the green movement of 2009.
The interview shows the situation of human rights in Iran from insider view, it sheds a light on the real situation there, from the situation of political activists in prison, to people’s reaction, to the past and present social movement in Iran.
The Early Beginnings:
Mr.Kaveh Taheri, was born in Shiraz province in Iran, after studying law for 2 semesters at Payam Noor University in Shiraz, he moved to Malaysia to study journalism, from those early days Kaveh realized, that the laws in Iran were unjust, he felt that there were no equal rights in Iran, he felt that there were huge amount of human rights violations in Iran, and he couldn’t imagine himself becoming a lawyer to defend the law, when its own existence is built on shaky grounds, he chose journalism instead which was a profession that defends the rights of the Iranian people and stands next to them.
Kaveh started his writings and virtual activities with the beginnings of the 2009 Iranian presidential election, in which protesters demanded the removal of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad from office because of the fraud elections, in those years Kaveh started his own blog publicized the brutal handling of the demonstrations and became a CEO of http://www.keyhanenovin.com.
I asked Kaveh how is the political situation in Iran, and if he sees any improvement in the scene, he responded: “For a long time, the political process in Iran is stagnated and controlled by the Islamic party and by the revolutionary guard, the Islamic party of Iran, controls the constitution and the elections in the country for many years, this makes politics in its democratic sense impossible to implement in that environment”, But later he added: “although the political party who rules Iran now didn’t change much in regards of violations of human rights and pursuing activists and imprisoning them, the people’s mentality has been changed, there is more secularism in the streets of Iran, more people are connected to the virtual world, and the society became more aware of the principles of democracy and the people are actively and openly are pursuing their basic human rights.”
The detention, imprisonment and harassment:
The Life of Mr.Kaveh and many people like him are in great danger in Iran, in a country which is ruled by the Islamic harsh laws, that prohibits almost every kind of freedom of speech and expression, being a journalist is a quite impossible career to pursue many, but he decided to challenge the status quo, because in his mind’s eye he saw a better future for Iranian people, a democratic future where people can live in a country as equals and the voice of the people are heard, not silenced by the brute force of the authorities.
As we started talking about the painful memories of his capture, he started to remember how, in the morning of 23th of September 2012, the governmental intelligent services, came to his work and took him to detention center blindfolded, the officers tried to break his moral and self-worth in every way possible in his whole detention time, he was detained in intelligence detention center for 2 months where he was put in a solitary confinement, and been detained 8 months afterwards in Adel Abad prison, the things that he saw and heard, in those long painful months, was beyond human comprehension.
Kaveh, has been suffered from physical and psychological violence, the official who interrogated Kaveh, insisted that he stays with other detainees who were criminals and weren’t political prisoners, this was very hard for him, especially because Kaveh didn’t commit any crime, except expressing his ideas publicly, in his blogs and websites, he was living in fear and distrust of the other inmates, who were drug addicts and maybe informers themselves, since the Iranian regime, is quite generous when it comes to paying informers.
After the painful two months in solitary confinement, the guards moved Kaveh without any previous trial to another prison called the Adel Abad prison, one of the most promoted prisons by the Iranian authorities, as a role model of comfort and high standards of living for prisoners, what Kaveh has discovered afterwards, that this prison had kept dark secrets, underneath this veil of propaganda, one of this severest, was the Section 10 and the ward named “Neshat” (meaning happiness). The (“Neshat’ section is not as cheerful as its name claims and the majority of prisoners are kept here. In this section, Drug dealing, sodomy and gambling are a common scenery, the guards who supposed to protect the law, witness these and they also have a hand in) says Kaveh.
“Drugs are easily brought into the prison. I have been witness to the guards bringing in drugs into prison….. Drugs easily exchange hands here. Prisoners openly use drugs in their room.” Says Kaveh, explaining the dread situation in this section of the prison, where evil is born and raised, instead of prevention and rehabilitation of the prisoners.
I asked Kaveh if there were hidden torture has been proceeded in the prison, (Yes) he said, (there were a dungeon called “Ershad” (guidance). This is where the place where prisoners of and those who have disturbed the peace and security of other prisoners were being detained, those prisoners have been kept there they are constantly beaten, tortured and harassed.) , some prisoners told Kaveh, they won’t be able to continue their normal life like before from the beating and torture, even some of them told him “we will be disabled for our whole life”.
The release, the after fears and flying out of the country:
After all those long months of struggle and uncertainty, Kaveh got released from prison after he was signed an agreement with the intelligence officials to stop writing speaking and protesting, in any subject that come close to the government of Iran, they asked him to abandon politics, and announce his surrender, this was something impossible to ask from a journalist but Kaveh agreed to comply, in order to get released from prison.
The intelligence services didn’t stop pursuing Kaveh after his release, they pursued his family, tried to take his family into detention, this was the time, where Kaveh, decided to flee the country and find asylum in Turkey.
Kaveh lives now in Turkey and asking for asylum and pursuing a way out for his critical situation, he needs financial support, and asks all human rights organizations around the world to hear his shocking story, a story of struggle against all odds.
Persecution of minorities in Iran:
I asked Kaveh about the treatment of minorities in the Abdel abad prison, he responded, the treatment of Sunni and Arab Ahwazi minorities in the prison were severe, even he mentioned in a relief that he wasn’t a minority, if he was, he wouldn’t be able to withstand the torture which inflicted on them, despite that he witnessed the tortures, and felt their pain the same way they did.
Later we discussed about the persecution of the people who practice the Baha’i faith, Kaveh told me, that not only the Baha’i minority has been suffered persecution in Iran but also has been in a fight for an existence for almost two hundred years right from the beginnings of its establishment, their temples has been destroyed, their leaders vanished from society, and the people who practice this belief has been jailed and excluded from social and political life, although Baha’i people are Persian nationals, until this day they don’t even have a seat in the Iranian parliament, Kaveh is one of the few Persian intellectuals who publicly talked and condemned the non-just persecution of the Baha’i faith in Iran.
The Iranian prison system has to be revised, some of the prisons has to be closed completely, Democracy in Iran has to be reintroduced, separation of religion and state has to be materialized sound elections should take place, democratic government should be created which represent the rights of all people in Iran, finally I asked Kaveh for his vision for the future middle east he said: “I believe that the countries in the Middle East could be overcome their internal crisis by their own mass power as social awareness, foreign intervention won’t solve the situation neither West no anyone else can give them democracy, democracy can be earned not given.”