The Rest

Jul 1, 2009

Eyewitness risks his life to tell Tehran’s stories

Crikey has been put in touch with an Iranian refugee who now has permanent residency in Australia. One of his brothers lives and works in Tehran, staying in touch with phone calls.

Sophie Black

Crikey editor

Crikey has been put in touch with an Iranian refugee who now has permanent residency in Australia. The man's mother, father and siblings are all based back in Iran, and one of his brothers lives and works in Tehran. We have not identified the man for fear of identifying his family back home. We'll refer to him as AB. AB told Crikey that a few days ago one of his former neighbours and friends was shot dead at a protest. AB fears for his brother's life. His brother refuses to leave Tehran and continues to attend the protests. Almost every night AB phones his brother in Tehran to check on his welfare. AB told Crikey that communication out of Tehran is extremely difficult. Journalists have been barred from Tehran,  IP addresses are traced and mobile lines have been blocked. To download anything from the internet, even something as simple as Facebook, can take over an hour. AB has conveyed his brother's stories to Crikey. AB says his brother is "risking his life, basically. If his phone’s being tapped or they find out about him somehow, he could be ‘disappeared’. That’s happened in Iran lots of times, that people get disappeared – just picked up off the street and that’s it, they’re gone," says AB. "The chances of his phone being tapped in Iran are one in a million, as there are a million or more protesters in the street all over Iran, but it is still a risk." Despite this, AB and his brother believe that it is important to convey what is going on in Iran to the outside world: CRIKEY: Has your brother always been politically active?
Back in ’99, that was the time that he became politically active, but my Dad has been politically active during the Shah time, and it’s sort of – there was always a lot of politics in our family.
Does your family worry about your brother, and the fact that he continues to protest?
Well they are very worried – they are extremely worried about him. And if it was up to my parents they wouldn’t let him go, but it’s a risk that – it became too, I mean, parents are worried, but at the same time, they understand what people go through. And if people don’t stand up, nothing’s going to change. So in some sense they are very worried, but in another sense they are very supportive of it as well. They are sitting on the edge, you know: “Don’t go, but if you don’t go – who goes?” So it’s very hard to describe it.

Your brother – is he going out into the street to protest every day?

Well, not every day. I’ve heard that since two or three days ago, they were quiet. And as he said to me, he said “It is quiet, but the organisation, the arrangement and everything are still going on, people behind the scene are not sitting quiet.” You know, it might be quiet in the street, but there is a war between them, inside.

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4 thoughts on “Eyewitness risks his life to tell Tehran’s stories

  1. Simon Savage

    While there may be a lot of phones in Iran and therefore limited potential to tap his brother’s phone, it will certainly be easier if they know his brother is receiving a phone call from Australia every night, as noted here. Similarly they also now know how many members there are in his family…any more variables to cross reference and they will be able to identify him…be careful – they might be crazy, but not necessarily stupid. Of course there is a low probability that this will occur but the fact that someone (and their family) might “disappear” as a result justifies greater caution.

  2. Rena Zurawel

    I don’t understand. One can contact anybody in Iran on a daily basis and some people wouldn’t mind a million Iranians being killed to… achieve what? Another Iraq?
    Had Mousavi won the election, what would have changed? Mousavi was responsible for the Islamic Revolution and the death of over 200 American marines. He was a PM of Iran but never got voted in again.
    The protesting crowds carry the flag of the Shah of Iran. Why? We all could see on TV and the Internet violent protesters burning businesses and means of transport. Why?

    Two independent American polling companies (The Centre for Public Opinion and the American Strategy Program) predicted Ahmadinejad’s landslide victory three weeks before the election and their report was published in The Washington Post 15/06/09. No one challenged the report. In preselection process Mousavi attracted 14% of votes.
    Some British diplomats were caught on hidden cameras while taking part in the demonstrations in Tehran.
    I am not a big fan of Ahmadinejad but I did not like our former PM, either. I did not like his politics, economy, and the treatment of both refugees and Australian citizens; Cornelia Rau or Vivien Alvarez; and the way they treated dr. Haneef. I hated Woomera Detention Centre. Our former PM won the election by deception (children overboard). I would never, ever advocate Trockist style street riots to try to get rid of a politician I don’t like. I would never lobby for any ‘assistance’ from a foreign country. Australians were waiting for the next election and rightly so. . Revolution is quick . Democracy takes longer. I prefer the latter.
    Four years ago Ahmadinejad won the election with the similar result. (over 60%) With similar results populist leaders won elections in Bolivia, Brazil, Venezuela.
    There was an election in Lebanon, not long ago. There was some criticism about Saudi Arabia being involved. I can’t wait for free election in that country. Or Egypt or Dubai.
    Why is the election in Iran more important than any other election (or lack of it ) in the region and elsewhere? After all, we all know that the president of Iran has no power whatsoever. So what are we fighting for?? For an Islamic Republic? It’s already there.
    And finally, if the Mousavi supporters think he won the election, can they also estimate how many people were voting for him? What should happen to the millions who voted for the status quo? Don’t they matter?

  3. bahador


    You must see the roots of this uprising in the recent history of Iran, all that has happened in the 20th century, specially the last 30 to 40 years. I don’t know much about Bolivia, Venezuela, Brazil or the Arab countries you named like Egypt or Dubai(you probably mean U.A.E) and perhaps you don’t know much about them either as you compared the current situation in Iran to the current elections that has taken place in those countries. I’m not trying to explain the differences in such a short note but would like to make this point: People have taken to streets of Tehran and other cities in Iran not because they care about former hardliner Mousavi or a mullah(cleric) such as Karoubi. You know, the highest layers of power in the ruling regime in Iran have found themselves in a big disagreement and people of Iran are taking advantage of this situation to claim their long waited for rights. The very simple things you take for granted here in Australia such as freedom of speech and human rights. That’s what they are fighting for not political parties, as every one in Iran know that if there is a candidate to vote for in the Islamic regime that candidate is without doubt part of the regime. Protesters do not burn businesses and means of transport. According to numerous

  4. bahador

    According to numerous sources and eyewitnesses the anti-riot police damages the public property to damage the reputation of protesters. There are also videos of such incidents on youtube that I recommend you to watch them.
    and finally I’d like to point out that people of Iran has too chosen the long way, how long should it take for you to call it long enough, 30years? 40 years? 100 years? What you see now in Iran is the direct result of such a long wait. Sometimes you have to run rather than walk.
    All the best and long live freedom

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