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Iranian authorities pursue dissidents
Ottowa Citizen ^ | 5/28/04 | Michael Petrou

Posted on 05/28/2004 5:16:06 PM PDT by freedom44

LONDON - Late last night, Behrouz Javid Tehrani, an Iranian democratic activist who was tortured and jailed by Iran's religious dictatorship for four years prior to his release last year, was tipped off that the secret police were coming for him again.

He slipped out of his house and tried to disappear in the streets of Tehran. He found an open Internet cafe, or perhaps a friend with network access, and composed an e-mail message that reached me through an intermediary.

"I'm fine for now, but they have arrested some of our friends and the homes of our colleagues are under surveillance," he wrote. "Probably I will be arrested tonight. Farewell ... With hope and freedom."

Mr. Tehrani is one of several Iranian students and democratic activists who risked their safety and possibly their lives to secretly meet with me in Iran last month and talk about the country's illegal democratic opposition. Like all the activists I met, he said he fully expected to be arrested again and accepted this as the necessary price for a future free and democratic Iran.

But now the beatings he received in prison and the months he spent in solitary confinement must be weighing heavily on his memory as he contemplates returning to prison.

Iranian democrats, when they fear they are being watched or hunted by police, communicate with each other and with the outside world by e-mail, using frequently changing addresses.

Cellphones are too easy to trace and are not used in moments of crisis. Mr. Tehrani's last e-mail was sent late yesterday evening. He was safe, but on the run. It is impossible to know where he is this morning.

In the last two weeks at least 15 students and activists have been arrested, in Tehran and across Iran.

Iranian dissidents are often jailed during the summer, when thousands of Iranians take to the streets to mark the anniversary of mass demonstrations broken up by police in 1999.

Canadian photojournalist Zahra Kazemi was covering these events in Tehran last summer when she was arrested and killed.

The Canadian government, headed by then prime minister Jean Chretien, promised to pressure the Iranian government to bring Ms. Kazemi's killers to justice and to return her body, which was quickly buried before it could be properly examined for evidence.

Mr. Chretien, now a private citizen, will travel to Iran next month to meet top Iranian government officials.

But Mr. Chretien isn't there to seek justice for Ms. Kazemi. Nor will he speak for the dozens of Iranians rotting in jails for the crime of believing Iran should have the same democracy Canadians enjoy.

Instead, Mr. Chretien is going to Iran as a "special adviser" to the Calgary oil company PetroKazakhstan, which wants to ship Kazakh oil to China and Iran. His job is to convince the Iranians that this is a good idea.

Stephan Hachemi, Ms. Kazemi's son, is disgusted.

Iranian democrats also warn that Mr. Chretien's visit, even as a private citizen, will give Iran's regime a veneer of undeserved respectability.

"This will be considered a message that if you can do business with us, you can continue to kill your own citizens, and the citizens of countries that should be protected, like Canada," said Iranian exile Aryo Pirouznia.

Mr. Pirouznia is the co-ordinator of the Student Movement Co-ordination Committee for Democracy in Iran, an organization of Iranian students and activists working for a democratic and secular Iran.

Mr. Pirouznia added that one day Iran will be free, and its citizens will not forget western leaders who refused to take a stand against oppression.

TOPICS: Foreign Affairs; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: dissidents; iran; mrstumov

1 posted on 05/28/2004 5:16:06 PM PDT by freedom44
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To: freedom44

I hate reading these stories.
But thanks for posting.

"Chretien, promised to pressure the Iranian government to bring Ms. Kazemi's killers to justice and to return her body,..." "Mr. Chretien is going to Iran as a "special adviser" to the Calgary oil company PetroKazakhstan"

What slime.

2 posted on 05/28/2004 5:38:40 PM PDT by nuconvert ("America will never be intimidated by thugs and assassins." ( Azadi baraye Iran)
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