Speaking of Iran

An Iranian Dissident’s Tale

July 31, 2019
Speaking of Iran
2 min read

Kian Tajbakhsh once had the support of today's Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif. But this didn't protect him from the real powers of the Islamic Republic, writes Eric Randolph for the New York Review of Books

More than a decade ago in Evin Prison, one of the darkest corners of the Islamic Republic of Iran, there came a moment when Kian Tajbakhsh had to decide whether to place, in effect, a noose around his neck. He had been given two excruciating days to think about it, as he sat in the tiny concrete room that had been his cage for the past five months.

The guard knocked on the door. Kian’s thinking time was over. As always, he was marched down the corridor in a blindfold that was removed once he sat on the chair with its little wooden table that reminded him of school exams, facing the wall of the interrogation room. The junior guard stood to one side with his incongruous jeans and beardless chin, watching Kian’s reactions, while behind him he heard the familiar low voice of the interrogator, with whom Kian had spent countless hours in conversation, but whose face he had never seen.

All those hours of interrogation. Round and round about every detail of his life and work as a democracy activist, about his ties to George Soros’s organization and Iran’s own reformist movement. In the end, it all boiled down to one simple question: Had Kian been trying to change the character of the Islamic Republic?

Kian was terrified. To answer yes meant admitting to treason, and treason meant the gallows. But he also felt he was seeing things clearly for the first time. “You work for the Open Society Institute,” his interrogator had said. “Well, we don’t believe in an open society. We believe in the Islamic Republic as decreed by Imam Khomeini.”

Read the full article on The New York Review of Books


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