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(en) Workers Solidarity #79 - An interview with Farzad, an Iranian Dissident in Exile in Ireland - The final victory will be the people's

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Sun, 1 Feb 2004 13:03:41 +0100 (CET)

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Farzad Safavisaleh, 22 years old fled with his brother from Iran
after they were arrested and tortured for demonstrating for basic
civil liberties. He spent months hiding in Azerbaijan, Georgia, and
Turkey before he made it to Ireland where he was granted refugee
status within 5 months. I met Farzad in his flat in Dublin and asked
him about his experiences in Iran and Ireland.
Why did you leave Iran?
Because after my brother and me were arrested and tortured my
family decided it was safer to leave.

Why were you arrested? Were you acting violently, throwing
rocks at the police or anything like that?

It started with demonstrations at the university in Tehran. There
were big student protests for freedom of speech, freedom of the
press, the freedom to meet. They lasted for days. We would be at
the gates of the university shouting and chanting. We didn't use any
violence, we just had rolled up newspapers to symbolise our desire
for freedom of speech. Then the special police, the religious police
came and dispersed the crowd. They had shields and weapons like
sticks and chains and knives which they used to attack the crowd.
My brother and me were arrested.

What was it like in jail?

You [anarchists] in Ireland think your police are bad, but they are
nothing like the police in Iran. First you are put in a room this size
(15' x 15') with 30 other men and left for days. Then they bring you
to another room and torture you. I have cigarette burns on my back,
and look at my wrist (It's twisted out of shape). This comes from
when they hanged me from the ceiling while is was handcuffed. The
worst part was when they would bring in my brother and torture him
in front of me.

How long were you in jail?

We were in jail for six weeks, then we were released but would
have to come back for trial later. We decided it was better to leave
and my father gave us money and we went to Azerbaijan. The
Iranian government tried to bring my father to trial over us leaving
the country and in the end all the family had to leave the country.

Have you heard from your family recently?

Last spring I heard that they are ok. My brother is in prison in
Azerbaijan because he has no travel documents.

Did you come to Ireland after going to Azerbaijan?

No after that I went to Georgia and then illegally by boat to Turkey.
Then to Ireland by plane.

Why did you pick Ireland?

I didn't know I was coming to Ireland. I just wanted to get to
Europe. Germany or England or any country. When you leave your
home like I did your thoughts are to save your life not on where
exactly you're going. The trafficker put me on the plane with a fake
passport and told me to claim for refuge when I arrived.

So you claimed asylum at the airport?

No, the trafficker told me to tear up my documents when I landed or
I would be sent back to Turkey. But I couldn't find the toilets before
the gate. But the officials just waved me through no problem. After
that I got a bus to the city-centre and walked around for hours. I
asked a policeman that I wanted to claim asylum and he said
"That's your business, not ours"

What did you do then?

In the end I got a taxi and said to the man. "I have ¤10 and I am a
refugee" (my English was very poor at this time). He brought me to
the Irish Refugee Council and they found me somewhere to stay for
three weeks. Then I was sent to Cork where I stayed for a year.
Now I am in Dublin.

What is your attitude towards Islam now? Do you go the mosque

No, we've suffered so much at the hands of people in the name of
Islam that it's difficult to go back to it so soon. After a religious
dictatorship you have a hatred of religion. We would not trust the
Shia centre here, they are spied upon by the regime. Not all Iranians
who live in Ireland are against the regime. Some who have Irish
citizenship from the 1980s travel back to Iran to their families and
have an interest in not opposing the regime. After torture we are
careful about who we talk to, because if you don't know them well,
they might be reporting to the regime. For me this doesn't matter as
much as for others because my family is now outside of Iran and
the government can no longer hurt them as revenge for my actions.

There were major anti-government protests last summer in Iran.
Have they finished do you think?

There are protests and there will be more in the future. It is not
easy to go on a demonstration in Iran. If you go on one, you don't
know whether that night you will sleep in your bed or a police
station. Or maybe even death. The people don't win against the
government on the first day. You need big numbers and this takes

What role, if any do you think the western countries could play in
helping the people get rid of the regime? Would you support an
Ameri-can invasion?

No, never to invade the country. Genuine help is ok, but we don't
want any other country inside Iran after the fall of the regime or any
exploitation of the oil by the west again. It must be sold for a fair
price. We don't want Iran to be like Iraq is now. The first thing
Western countries can do to help the people is to stop supporting
the government.

The West trades arms with Iran and supports their economy. This
is a green light to the government to repress the opposition. France
should not arrest members of the opposition living there just
because the Iranian government wants it. It was very bad for
opposition morale to see the foreign ministers of the EU (Straw of
England, Villipein of France and Fischer of Germany) joking with
the rulers of Iran. It makes them seem just people when in fact they
are torturers. If the countries of the world stopped supporting the
government the people could deal with them ourselves.

What is your opinion of reformers like Khatami within the

We don't support reformists in the government. They are former
revolutionary guards and they have come back to save the
government not to change it. Khatami is no different. It's just a play
to save them. The number of jailings and stonings has increased
since Khatami came to power. The government has taken some of
the money given by Europe for the earthquake. The people don't
have enough blankets yet millions was given. That is robbery.

Do you think the Religious Dictators can be overthrown soon?

The strongest dictatorships don't last forever. The final victory will
be the people's. I can't predict whether it will fall soon. But we
believe we must be active and do something rather than be silent.

interview by James O Brien
See also

* Anarchism and the fight against Imperialism
* Refugees & Asylum seekers in Ireland
* Anarchism and Religion
This page is from the print version of the Irish Anarchist paper
'Workers Solidarity'. http://struggle.ws/wsm/paper.html
We also provide PDF files of all our publications
for you to print out and distribute locally
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