Zarif’s lie exposes the regime’s most cherished media tactics, says journalist Siamak Ghaderi, who has been targeted for his work

There are hundred of documents and much evidence to  refute Mohammad Javad Zarif’s claim that “In Iran nobody is in prison for their opinions.” Many journalists, as well as political and religious activists, have been jailed for their opinions — and are still in prison.

In my own case, when I was condemned to four years of imprisonment, for weeks I signed and confirmed articles that I had published which would be used in court as evidence of propaganda against the government, society and as proof of conspiracy.


Despite that, my intention is not to refute Mr. Zarif’s claim during his interview with Charlie Rose. My intention is to remind the public of the strategic mistake of a figure who is active on modern social networks and uses them to disseminate information. In addition, I want to refute the claim some have made that they will adopt a new approach when it comes to the Islamic Republic of Iran and its international relations.


It should be remembered that, due to the dangerous, oppressive environment of the domestic political scene, many Iranian journalists, bloggers and activists inside and outside the country have found cyberspace to be a suitable medium to disseminate information and express their opinions. That is why a number of statesmen of the Islamic Republic — those in high positions, including the Supreme Leader, as well as the lower ranks — also go online to counteract the influence that these activists produce.


At present, the Iranian foreign minister is facing a wave of objections and internal obstacles to the government’s policy on the international scene, and is now experiencing a backlash from many of his supporters as the result of this strategic mistake. Even his subsequent explanation and implicit apology has not helped to diminish the anger arising from his false claims.


Over the past decade, as the result of bad policies and their inefficiency in ruling the country, Iranian statesmen have been publishing and disseminating lies by controlling the media and turning it into a loudspeaker for the state. The peak of tensions against such a policy was witnessed during the events following the election of 2009.


The present government, which took the power after those tensions and political disputes with slogans such as “putting an end to lies” and “honesty” and participated in negotiations under the same banners, promised to terminate that horrifying era, both in terms of its domestic and international policies.

The Islamic Republic has always claimed the judiciary has autonomy, implying that it alone is answerable for its legal or illegal decisions, and it is possible for us to accept this. Zarif, like all previous Iranian foreign ministers or even those from other countries, uses this claim as an excuse when facing a question about human rights.

Unfortunately, the foreign minister’s mistake is that, by disclosing the details of Jason Rezaian’s case, probably still unknown to both the accused and his attorney, he is playing the role of the spokesman of an unjust judicial power, which has sent thousands of innocent people to prisons under the pretext that they pose a threat to the country’s national security. In this way, he is approving and supporting the illegal and inhuman measures of the judiciary, which in itself disproves the claimed autonomy of this power.

With this realization, it is natural to feel very pessimistic about other claims he made during his interview with Charlie Rose — namely, that his government has a plan to improve and enhance human rights. It is more likely that the government has a propaganda plan to beautify its face because of its inability to establish a real discourse with its subjects, in order to deceive the international community.


You can read other letters by Iranian journalists here: 

Masih Alinejad

Shahram Rafizadeh

Fariba Davoodi Mohajer


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