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Interview with Nooshin Barati, Exiled MPG Journalist

The ruling powers within the Islamic Republic of Iran have systematically ignored human rights and attempted to imprison and detain the educated and intellectual class because they find this group to be a strong promoter of a democratic regime in Iran .
The methods the government uses in its campaign of repression vary from threats, persecution, and torture to outright murder of the opposition forces and those who resist and challenge its unjust and oppressive rule .
Two groups which are consistently the target of the wrath of governmental rulers are journalists and students who are continuously under government-sanctioned assault and oppression by the agents of this hostile and corrupt regime .
We have managed to hold a discussion with a journalist who through her position and contacts within the Iranian society has had the opportunity to consistently play a role in the fight against this unjust regime. As a result of her oppositions, and because of the pressure, persecution, attempts to incarcerate and threats of murder against her by the agents of the regime, she has been forced to flee Iran. However, she continues her activity against the regime outside of Iran and alongside other fellow intellectuals and free-thinkers. The following is an excerpt of our interview with this dissident journalist :
Question: What have been some of your activities as a university student ?
Answer: I started my activities from within the university through my various attempts to draw attention to the equality of men and women in our society, and my challenge of women’s Islamic covering mandated by the regime. In a different front, I authored a book based on my master’s degree thesis which researched the position, status, and condition of the nationalistic forces versus that of the Islamic groups. It provided a documentation and demonstration of the exclusionary desires of the Islamic purists and their attempts in subverting the political activism of the Iranian merchants and traders, our so-called Bazaaris, to date .
It also discussed the support of the Islamic hardliners for the founding and continued survival of the Islamic republic’s restrictive and repressive dictates. Essentially, this book shed light on all the dark spots which conceal the Iranian people’s struggle in search of freedom .
Several members of the governing boards of various nationalist groups assisted me in compiling the material and writing of this book. They also supplied me with evidentiary documents in support of my assertions. The extent and depth of my investigative work was cause for alarm among the members of my university’s management committee. Their apprehension was so strong that for a long time I was involved in a protracted struggle just to write this book. Ultimately, they resorted to confiscation of my work and passing it on to judicial officials and possibly the intelligence and information ministry .
Question: You mentioned that you are a newspaper journalist; when did you begin your career as a journalist ?
Answer: I started my career as a newspaper journalist with the “Akhbar (News) Newspaper” in 1375 (A.D. 1996) as a member of the social reporting service. I was attracted to this work because I always had a powerful interest in people and desired to investigate and identify the root causes of their problems, concerns, and worries, and their plight in the society .
I have also cooperated with several other newspapers such as “Today’s Morning”, “Iran’s Today’s Sun”, “Fellow Citizen”, “Free”, “Khordad”, etc .
Question: Have you been able to establish contacts with any movements along the way ?
Answer: Yes, I became connected with the active journalists who founded the National Journalists’ Council and in line with my nationalistic beliefs and goals which have deep family roots I became an active member of the group. Among those who I associated with are ... and ... who have cooperated with me in several of my reporting assignments. They were arrested and imprisoned following the five-day uprising of 18 Teer. These people were also affiliated with the “Marz-e Por-Gohar” party and through them, I too became affiliated with this movement. It should be noted that I was also closely associated with Ahmad Zaid-Abadi and Siamak Pour-Zand who were both editors of the Azad newspaper at different times. Both these men were arrested, imprisoned and tortured by the agents of the regime, and currently, Siamak Pour-Zand is in Tehran with a high likelihood that he may be executed. Human rights organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Watch are trying to gain his release and in this connection, have issued various declarations. Additionally, various Internet sites related to Iranian news media and foreign sites with activity pertaining to Iran, as well as general news media are engaged in collecting signed petitions from the public in protest .
During the five-day uprising after the 18th of Teer, I was one of the journalists who, along with this press corps and “Marz-e Por-Gohar” political activists, were present at the “Kooye Daneshgah” (university road). I had the responsibility to cover the Shariati Hospital where I completed a full report of the events. Unfortunately, this report and all documentation related to it were lost as a result of the hardliners assault, and all that remains from this work is fragments of the report and my own recollection .
Question: Were you connected with these two incidents on an organizational level ?
Answer: Yes, I was closely affiliated with the National Journalists’ Council even though this organization was an outlawed union deeply resented by the Islamic government. Meanwhile, I was in the process of establishing closer contacts with the “Marz-e Por-Gohar” party, a political party also outlawed by the Islamic regime. But the party offices were attacked by the agents of the intelligence and information ministry, and a number of its leaders were arrested, and for a time, this party’s activity changed from its previous visible presence to an underground type of operation .
Question: Could you tell us about your memories of the Shariati Hospital ?
Answer: In a discussion with one of the doctors at the hospital, he told me that at the time of the incident, he was called at his house and told that an urgent situation had developed and he needed to report to the hospital. A he was entering the hospital, he saw an injured man who was lying in the middle of the street, and was in need of medical help. As the doctor attempted to administer medical aid, government-sponsored and civilian bullies and rough-necks attacked him, and beat him up severely. However, they left him alone once they noticed his physician’s ID .
As he entered the hospital, he saw many injured people and could count six dead victims in the hospital. One of the students who had died of brain injuries was no more than 18 or 19 years old and was quite slim and skinny. The bullet had struck his head from a distance of 10 cm (4 inches), and black powder traces were visible on his shoulders .
In order to lower the death count, the agents of the intelligence and information ministry refused to allow the hospital staff to shut off the life support machine although the victim was clinically dead .
The next day, I went to the hospital equipped with my camera to take the young man’s picture to assist in his identification. But the doctor told me that at 4 o’clock that morning the civilian-dressed government agents had come to the hospital and transported his corpse in a special vehicle belonging to the intelligence and information ministry .
Question: Did you see any other cases there ?
Answer: Yes, I saw many injured people. I saw an old woman with five orphaned children who was attacked from behind with a club while she was paying her cab fare after returning from work. The strike had thrown her on the ground unconscious, and she was brought to the hospital with the help of the people who witnessed the attack. She was immediately delivered to the operating room .
I also saw an aviation student whose kidney was injured and had a bullet wound in his stomach. Since he had seen that the government agents were taking the injured with them, after undergoing preliminary care, he was trying to help me assist the injured to escape from the hospital so as not to become the victims of government abduction. Every night, with the help of physician friends I would enter the hospital and help the injured escape the hospital to avoid being taken away to unknown locations by government agents .
The most disturbing case I witnessed was that of a boy called Behzad Vassileh Ezad-Moosa whose left cheek was struck by a bullet. The bullet had then been lodged among the vertebrae on the right side of his neck. Because of the very disturbing nature of this injury, I pursued his case after the squelching of the uprising by the government elements. I compiled rather persuasive and strong documents pertaining to his case which I still partially possess. Even after numerous surgeries, this boy’s upper jaw, tongue and throat are still damaged and would never be restored to a healthy state. Later, I learned that he was also one of the members of the Marz-e Por-Gohar party.
I need to emphasize that during those days, the smell of blood had permeated throughout the whole hospital and civilian-dressed government agents were present everywhere in the hospital, and even controlled and monitored the telephone calls to and from the hospital. Meanwhile, I had been identified as an undesirable presence by these agents, but luckily I managed to escape before any untoward event .
Question: In the aftermath of the five-day uprising, when a number of your friends were arrested, did you experience any trouble ?
Answer: When I realized my friends and associates from the National Journalists’ Council and “Marz-e Por-Gohar” party as well as the leaders of the Iranian People party (Hezb-e Mellat-e Iran) with whom I had family related connections, were arrested by the government agents, I went into hiding for some time .
During this period of time, government agents raided several of the newspapers with whom I had been affiliated and cooperated. In one of these raids, my report covering the events of the uprising were found and confiscated. Subsequently, I continued to receive numerous telephone threats to the point that I had to abandon my effort for obtaining a doctorate out of a fear for my life .
I am glad to add that I have reestablished my contacts with several members of the “Marz-e Por-Gohar” party outside Iran, and have restarted my activity alongside them once again .

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last update: 11/18/2016 6:14