Features

Students + Alcohol Poisoning + Bit Coin + Visa Scams

July 10, 2019
Maziar Bahari
2 min read
Ahmad Batebi was among students who protested in 1999. He was arrested and served time in prison before seeking asylum in the United States
Ahmad Batebi was among students who protested in 1999. He was arrested and served time in prison before seeking asylum in the United States
Reza Golpour, who used to have close links to Iran's security apparatus, leaked 170 minutes of audio, exposing some of the top names in the Revolutionary Guards' intelligence unit
Reza Golpour, who used to have close links to Iran's security apparatus, leaked 170 minutes of audio, exposing some of the top names in the Revolutionary Guards' intelligence unit
An IranWire citizen journalist made a film about a poor family in the city of Abadan. Shortly after, activists visited the family and provided it with food and basic amenities
An IranWire citizen journalist made a film about a poor family in the city of Abadan. Shortly after, activists visited the family and provided it with food and basic amenities

As journalists, we always hope to have a positive impact. Often that impact is not visible to us, and we may or may not hear about it. So I was really happy that a video by an IranWire citizen journalist about an utterly poor family in the city of Abadan led to activists visiting them and providing them with food and basic amenities like a fridge and an air conditioner. 

Speaking of the impact of journalism, this week we mark 20 years since the student protests that ended in the deaths of seven students and the arrests of many others. The protests were spurred on by the closure of a newspaper, and by plans to tighten up censorship. Ahmad Batebi was one of those protesters and became famous because he appeared in international media holding up a blood-stained shirt, proof of the violence he and others endured. He says he and other students were naive — they believed the reformists wanted change and to hear what they had to say. They were wrong. Despite his bitterness, Batebi is quite hopeful that one day, students will make their voices heard again.  

Iranians have been mesmerized by audio files recently leaked by Reza Golpour, a journalist with close links to Iran’s security apparatus who’s now in jail. Golpour has revealed the names of some of the top agents in the Revolutionary Guards’ Intelligence Unit, detailed corruption in the unit and in the judiciary, and outlined the extent to which the lives of some of Iran’s most influential families are interlinked and symbiotic. When I was working in Iran between 1998 and 2009, I was always warned by my reformist contacts that Golpour was too close to “the parallel intelligence agency”(what they used to call the Guards’ Intelligence Unit) and that I should avoid him. Seeing Golpour in prison is more proof of the deep divides in the establishment of the Islamic Republic. Part of Golpour’s message is about the pressures exerted on his American wife Kristin Dailey, who used to write for the Lebanese publication The Daily Star. Daley apparently lives in the US now and has so far declined our request to be interviewed. I’ll keep you posted if she changes her mind.

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