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Persian Letters

The Accused: "A.A."

The mass trials of government critics accused of crimes against the state continued in Tehran on September 14.
Blogger Saze Mokhalef (Opposed Musical Instrument) writes about a friend who was arrested in the wake of the election and seemingly forced into a confession in the ongoing trial of reformists, intellectuals, and others over postelection unrest.

All those who studied electrical engineering at Elm-o Sanaat University between 1995 and 2000 or lived in the dormitories during the same period remember Amir Aslani, a young guy with a distinct Isfahani accent. He had received his bachelor's as well as his master's degree from Elm-o Sanaat University and set up his own company. He had become successful. He had earned the franchises for the sale and servicing of some kind of software for the electrical engineering sector, in Iran and then in the Middle East. Since the expansion of his business to the entire Middle East, he's been a traveler for the past two years.

This man could work! You'd be amazed. He used to get no more than five hours' sleep each night, and would pursue his work with great interest and willpower the rest of the time. He is among the hardest-working and most brilliant of youngsters, an example for the rest of us. He hadn't received any financial help [from his parents] nor did he have any connections. He's a self-made, hardworking young man who pursued his studies with great interest and later set up a company and expanded it gradually.

Amir and his wife are close friends of mine and Nastaran's. One of our typical arguments concerned his interminable advice to me about letting go of politics. And now, such a man has been dragged into the courtroom for most likely making a forced confession about his involvement in the so-called 'velvet revolution.' There are those who ran away from politics but politics wouldn't let them go.

About a month and a half ago, [security forces] raided his office, taking with them -- along with Amir and his wife and coworkers -- numerous documents, computers, company files, personal documents, and cash; they placed Amir under arrest. We didn't hear from him for a few days, aware only that he was in the custody of the special department of Internet crimes within Tehran's prosecutors' office. In recent weeks, he called home a few times and spoke to his wife and mother. Interestingly, from behind prison walls, he was concerned about his work, his company, and the paychecks of his team. He told them that they were going to record his confessions and that he had been practicing.

These people didn't have the slightest interest in politics, and neither did they get involved in the election. Let's assume he sent a couple of e-mails to people telling them to plug their irons. (Editor's note: Vote critics urged people to use appliances like irons at a specified time to try to create a blackout.) Is that a crime?

Aren't you ashamed of yourself and your pathetic judiciary?!!
Students sit for their university entrance exam in Tehran in June.
Blogger Yari Yol says she has been banned from studies by Iran’s government. (Since coming to power in 2005, Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad has banned a number of student activists from attending classes. -- Eds)

I am experiencing a bizarre feeling these days. I don't feel like doing anything at all, just like someone made of stone. Vacant of any possible feeling. Perhaps this is a defensive system within me that activates on its own in such times.

I am fully familiar with this phase within me. I have been through it many times, each time ending in a different manner. It shall end this time as well, and knowing my habit of being cheeky, I shall look forward to the days to come. Although the bitter memory of it shall add to all the other wishes that I have left behind.

Since my childhood, I have had a special interest in education, in learning, and in discovering the mysterious world within the pages of my books. This feeling is much like a thirst that has not yet let go of me. During primary school, I was among the best students, without knowing the value of being a top student. While the teacher would punish students for not doing their homework, it was I who tried to study more out of fear of incurring the teacher's temper.

My mother knew enough to be able to read and write; my dad was illiterate. They absolutely didn't interfere in the business of my studies. I cried like a baby when they didn't provide me with a notebook when the old one was filled.

My father spent all his days to earn money to feed us, while my mother, like all other women, stayed busy doing housework and taking care of her children. They didn't have any space left to pay attention to the wishes of a little girl like me. After the completion of each academic year, my biggest concern was to get enrolled in school the next year. I could hear the whispers of my relatives, with my mother saying that it was more than enough that I was able to read and write. What difference would my qualifications make if I was to become a mere housewife immersed in housework?

Perhaps it was because of such a mentality that one day my mother pulled me out of my physics lesson, in my high school, to attend my suiting ceremony. The suitor possessed all the qualities my mother had expected. As for me, I didn't have any, as I had never thought of marriage until then. My biggest concern at that moment was departing from my school and studies. ...

After marriage, I wasn't able to fulfill the plans I had regarding my studies. The gapless birth of two children didn't leave me with much time to pursue my own goals in the academic world. Even then, my sweetest dreams were of a classroom until, after eight years, I decided to continue my education, despite the opposition and bitter quarrels that I had to go through because of this decision.

My husband's conservative family was against me as well, but due to my persistence I became a top-class student once again. I was able to earn my diploma and prepare myself for the university entrance exam.

Due to my position in the family and my responsibilities toward my family, I was aware that the continuation of my education in the university was restricted to the city of my residence. That is why I preferred to continue my education at Payam e Noor University. With all its ups and downs, I successfully completed my bachelor's degree in statistics.

After my graduation from the university and getting involved in civic and political activities, a whole new world was revealed to me. During this time, I became vitally interested in efforts to improve conditions for women, problems which I had often felt myself.

I came to the conclusion that a further degree in a social science field would be of great help. This year, I took the entrance exam for Azad University, only to find out that I am included on a list of those banned from further education.

Honestly, I had never thought of it before -- that after going through the discouragements of my husband and his family, that this time it could be the government who would oppose my higher education.

The revolutionaries of 1979 who poured into the streets to topple the dictatorial regime, shouting slogans against tyranny and oppression and demanding independence and freedom, would never have imagined that a revolutionary government could suppress its critic and oppose its citizens in a way that would make the shah feel ashamed. Acts of deprivation, detention, and torture toward citizens has become normal practice and [the establishment] uses them against its critics without any consideration.

The experiences of recent years demonstrate that there is no will within the establishment to put an end to the inhumane behavior and that there is no point in hoping the establishment will restore the rights which have been violated.

It seems that the main work of the government is to interfere in people's lives in order to strike back against critics whenever an opportunity is presented.

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About This Blog

Persian Letters is a blog that offers a window into Iranian politics and society. Written primarily by Golnaz Esfandiari, Persian Letters brings you under-reported stories, insight and analysis, as well as guest Iranian bloggers -- from clerics, anarchists, feminists, Basij members, to bus drivers.


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