Tuesday, August 25, 2015

David Shariatmadari’s links with Iranian regime and the Guardian’s credibility gap

David Shariatmadari, the Guardian editor who recently authored a much-derided hatchet-job on the leading British Muslim liberal Maajid Nawaz, has long been something of an enigma. Homosexual and a self-described “sort of pan-theist”, he has nonetheless regularly painted a rosy picture of Iran’s theocratic government and has also, according to a variety of Muslim liberals, blocked reformist voices and those who are critical of the Islamic Republic of Iran from writing for Guardian's "Comment Is Free". 

Born in London to an English mother and an Iranian Muslim father, educated at the exclusive Christ’s Hospital School in Lincoln, Shariatmadari attained a degree in Arabic, Persian and Linguistics at Kings College, Cambridge, and subsequently a Linguistics MA at SOAS in London. On the way, he flirted with the right, including penning a sub-Rod Liddle diatribe against ‘diversity’ and civil service waste for the Spectator (“You can hardly move for diversity action plans and diversity monitoring grids”) and for the corporate world, writing for BP’s in-house magazine Horizon.

So far so typical of the Guardian’s upper-middle class commentariat. However, Shariatmadari also seems to harbour a dark family secret that he has never revealed publicly. His father’s brother, who he has described fondly in the Guardian itself, is directly implicated in some of the 20th century’s worst human rights abuses in the name of Islam, a fact never unacknowledged publicly by Shariatmadari. In one 2009 reminiscence for the Guardian on the 1979 Iranian revolution, Shariatmadari wrote lightheartedly of his childhood encounters with his unnamed Iranian uncle:

"My uncle, who sent us boxes of 'gaz' - a Persian delicacy from Isfahan - and pistachios every so often and had been put in prison by the Shah (three months solitary confinement for attending a protest against French actions in Algeria), started working for the new government. He came to see us when I was about three, with "protection" in tow. This man appears sheepishly in some of our photo albums. He was a student and assistant really, but in family myth he became a bodyguard with a gun"

In another article, he again casually references meeting this, still unnamed, uncle on a visit to Iran, writing of his “a simple trip to see my uncle and aunts, the town my dad grew up in, my grandfather's grave”.

Who was this mysterious, un-named but clearly powerful uncle, who arrived escorted by a bodyguard, who David so coyly describes as “working for the new government” of post-revolutionary Iran?

It can now be said with a high probability of certainty that Dr Ali Shariatmadari, one of Ayatollah Khomeini’s closest political lieutenants and the man entrusted with purging the country’s universities of suspected secular and ‘un-Islamic’ intellectuals, and particularly Leftists, is his mysterious uncle.

A former school teacher, university lecturer and a committed Khomeini zealot, who was indeed jailed briefly under the Shah, Ali Shariatmadari was initially appointed as Minister of Science in Iran’s relatively moderate and inclusive post-revolutiona interim government in 1979. 

However, once Khomeini’s Islamists took full control of the government later in 1980 and launched their assault on their erstwhile Left-wing allies, Shariatmadari was appointed Minister for Higher Education. Soon afterwards, in June 1980, Khomeini personally appointed him to co-establish the country’s Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution, the unelected body which to the present day imposes draconian restrictions on Iran’s cultural, educational and intellectual life in the name of revolution and Islam. 

Khomeini’s statement announcing this on 12 June, reads in part:

"Hence, their Excellency Mr. Mohammad Javad Bahonar, Mr. Mehdi Rabbani Amleshi, Mr. Hassan Habibi, Mr. Abdulkarim Soroush, Mr. Shams Al-e Ahmad, Mr. Jalaleddin Farsi and Mr. Ali Shariatmadari are made responsible to establish a headquarter and invite committed experts among Muslim professors, committed employees and other educated, committed and faithful layers of the society to form a council being charged to take measures in planning for various courses and for the cultural policy of the universities in future on the basis of Islamic culture and through selection of efficient, committed and vigilant professors and for other issues relevant to the Islamic academic revolution.”

In this dual role on the Supreme Council and as Minister for Higher Education, acting under Khomeini’s personal orders, Ali Shariatmadari led the Islamist regime’s purge of Iran’s intellectuals; universities were closed in 1980 for two years to facilitate the purges, over 800 lecturers and academics were dismissed, many into lives of poverty or exile, and others – including intellectuals, academics and poets – were jailed or executed after often cursory show-trials. An estimated 8,000 people, men, women, old and even teenagers were executed by the regime during the eighties.

While others on the Council grew uneasy and resigned, some such as Abdol Karim Soroush even later becoming opposition, David Shariatmadari’s gift-bearing “Uncle Ali” remained steadfastly loyal to the most conservative elements of the regime, being reappointed to the Supreme Council by Ayatollah Ali Khameini in 2007. Indeed, he 

continues to sit on the council today, a fact which David Shariatmadari has strangely never acknowledged in his numerous articles for the Guardian on Iran – even ones that directly reference his uncle!

No-one should be held guilty of the crimes of others. However, it is legitimate to ask to what extent David Shariatmadari’s family ties to the senior Iranian government officials impact his reporting on Iran in the Guardian? In one of his articles on the subject of Iran’s government, David Shariatmadari has made some lukewarm criticisms of the regime, referencing ‘the executions’ in passing, before issuing this spectacular cop-out:

"But who am I to talk with any authority? I experienced the Iranian revolution at one remove and was in no position to make sense of it. Even now it's impossible to give a judgment; there were millions of revolutions, experienced in millions of different ways." !!

Has moral equivocation ever been so immoral? The Iranian ‘Islamic’ revolution, partly thanks to the actions of David’s own ‘Uncle Ali”, has led to judicial stonings, the execution of adulterers, the public hanging from cranes of those guilty of ‘apostacy’, the discriminations against homosexuals, the systematic restriction of women’s rights, the casual routine execution of political prisoners (5,000 in 1988 alone) but who is David Shariatmadari, the nephew of Dr Ali Shariatmadari, to judge? How much do his family ties prevent him from reporting on the true nature of Iran’s government?

In other instances, David Shariatmadari has gone further than sitting on the fence and has actively defended the regime, perhaps out of misplaced familial loyalty. For instance, in one 2009 piece on Iran’s presidential elections, he said had voted for the more moderate candidate, Hossein Mousavi, and then concluded with a woefully inaccurate rose-tinted analysis of the situation in Iran:

"Iranian democracy is far more than the regime-orchestrated sham many westerners assume it must be. It falls short on two crucial measures: all parliamentary and presidential candidates are vetted by the conservative Guardian Council, and the supreme leader of the nation is, of course, unelected. But there is no denying that in 2009 we have had a real contest; the candidates have been exposed to scrutiny, there is significant difference between the policies on offer and the results are, as yet, anyone's guess."

Within days, however, Iran’s conservative faction had effectively rigged and stolen the election, arrested the winning candidates, and then cracked down violently on the resulting protests. As “many Westerners” – and many better informed Iranians – had correctly surmised, “Iranian democracy” was indeed a “regime-orchestrated sham”. Undeterred, rather than apologising for his woeful analysis, he soon after published a lengthy denunciation of Mujahideen-e Khalq (MEK) the Leftist Islamist opposition/rival group to the mullahs who helped the mullahs come to power in 1979 but then fell out with them when they received no share of the power. 

Now, if David Shariatmadari wishes to defend elements of the Iranian regime and to attack Muslim liberals and to block them from writing for his employers at the Guardian, this is his personal choice. However, it seems only fair for Guardian readers, and would-be liberal Muslim contributors, to know of his links to the regime and of his uncle’s role in the systematic persecution of Iran’s intellectuals. Indeed, given David Shariatmadari’s close family ties to Iran’s brutal theocratic and massively corrupt rulers’, his recent snipes at Maajid Nawaz for his “closeness to the law-making elite” can also now been seen as exposing jaw-dropping level of hypocrisy.

In his recent article on Nawaz, Shariatmadari took aim at what he calls Quilliam’s “credibility gap”. Maybe his next article should ponder his own deliberate silence over his uncle Ali’s role in the bloody persecution and the silencing of Iran’s leftwing and liberal intelligentsia, and then consider why The Guardian, like so much of the British Left, has its own “credibility gap” with Muslim and secular Iranians.

Before writing this post, I emailed, messaged and phoned David Shariatmadari to give him an opportunity to deny Ali Shariatmadari is his uncle, but he refused.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Khomeini's Damnation of Mossadegh

What happens when the management of a company choose bad advisors? Well usually bad advise leads to undesirable consequences and the company suffers, but when the management is the US administration that appoints bad foreign advisors, then the undesirable consequences become global catastrophic calamities!

I am still so infuriated about Obama apologising to the mullahs in Iran for the toppling of Mossadegh in 1953. It shows that none of the things we talked about or wrote about after Madeline Albright made the same mistake,  including articles written by the likes of Ray Takeyh, are reaching the US administration which is more hell bent on listening to advice on Iran from their NIAC advisors, considered by many as a lobby group for the Islamic Republic. 

So it is with little hope that I am writing this post, except that this is not my opinion or that of a learned person's accurate recount of what really happened in 1953. This is Khomeini's damnation of Mossadegh in his own words. Perhaps by watching this, the future US administrations will learn that they need not apologise to the mullahs for the events of 1953 in Iran or consider it a reason to justify the actions by the mullahs today!

Perhaps Ayatollah Khomeini's damnation of Mossadegh will make the US administration realise that they really are listening to very bad advise!

"right from the beginning when Ayatollah Kashani saw that they [Mossadegh supporters] are misbehaving and spoke against them, what they [Mossadegh supporters] did was to put a pair of glasses on a dog and named it Ayatollah [audience cries]..this was at a time when his [Mossadegh] supporters speak so proudly of him, Mossadegh was not a Muslim either. That day I was in the house of one of Tehran's high ranking clerics, when I heard the news that they have put a pair of glasses on a dog and are walking him in the streets calling the dog, Ayatollah. I told that high ranking cleric that I was with at that time, this is now no longer a matter of personal animosity with Mossadegh, he will be slapped for this, and it wasn't long before he was slapped, and had he [Mossadegh]  remained in power, he would have slapped Islam"

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Baseless Concerns on How Iran's Unblocked Assets Will be Spent

There were immediate grave concerns by many on how Iran will be spending the $120 Billion it was to get back as is stipulated in the Vienna JCPOA. These concerns centred on two issues, the Islamic Republic was getting this windfall without having to implement anything in return and that the regime was most likely to spend this money on its proxies such as the Hezbollah, the Syrian regime, the Houthis, the Hashd Al-Sha'abi etc.

John Kerry made an unconvincing rejection of the above concerns in his interview with the BBC World by saying, Iran will only spend some of this on its proxies and in any case it would have carried on spending money on its proxies regardless of the windfall!

Well there is good news for those who became even more concerned after John Kerry made those statements and started questioning the sanity of the US secretary of state. Evidence has come about that Iran will spend some of that $120 Billion windfall on development and construction within Iran to improve the lives of ordinary Iranians.

Last week the revolutionary guards, amidst much pomp and ceremony, opened a new bridge in Deh Darreh, in the Lorestan province, West Iran. See picture of the opening ceremony:

There were huge banners of the founder of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Khomeini and the current Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei erected for the purpose of the opening ceremony. The banners praised Ayatollah Khomeini and Ayatollah Khamenei as representatives of God on earth and all their services for building a better Iran.

All the key officials, including the local MP, who thanked the revolutionary guards for this impressive construction project, were there. 

A local beneficiary of this magnificent piece of engineering was asked to cut the tape to demonstrate the regime's grass root popular support, with a revolutionary guard doing his best to keep the tape steady while it was being cut. See picture:

Finally, the picture below shows the full extent of this 3 metre bridge which could become listed as the eighth wonder of the world:

The revolutionary guards generously paid for half the cost of building the bridge [$3000], while the other half was collected from the local inhabitants.

Picture of the first car to cross the bridge, without the bridge collapsing or showing signs of wobbling. Three Islamic Republic flags adorn the full length of the bridge on both sides. See picture:

Friday, July 17, 2015

Who Has Obama Been Listening to?

What does it tell you when the US president justifies the behaviour of the clerical theocracy in Iran with the toppling of Mossadeq in 1953 and thinks the United States should apologise to the mullahs for the overthrow of a "democratically elected regime in Iran"??!!!

Watch Obama's apology here:

It proves beyond any reasonable doubt that NIAC have got as far as the president's bedroom, right in between his bed sheets actually, and the likes of Mehdi Hasan have been teaching him the wrong history of Iran!

Read my article published in the commentator about the toppling of Mossadegh and why the clerics in Iran are the last people to apologise to for this:

Listening to Obama is like listening to NIAC

In response to Obama's pathetic uninformed apology about the 1953 events, Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Khamenei, made the following reference to Obama's interview with Thomas Friedman during his important speech on Saturday:

"he [Obama] admitted to America's past mistakes. Of course, he said a hodgepodge of things. He admitted that the Americans made a mistake in Iran on the 28th of Mordad [Toppling of Mossadegh]......I would like to offer a friendly word of advice to these excellencies: today - after the passage of many years from the 28th of Mordad, the eight-year war and the defense that the Islamic Republic put up there - you acknowledge that you have made certain mistakes. I would like to say to you that you are making a mistake in the present time as well..."

It may also be a good idea to include the full translation of the Supreme Leader's speech, copied exactly from Ayatollah Khamenei's website. It is extremely well translated and accurate. 
In contrast to a weak, apologetic US president, the Supreme Leader is defiant, resolute and strong.
Unlike Western Media's translation of the speech, Supreme Leader never once refers to a "deal" but consistently calls it a document and that is the most important thing about the Supreme Leader's speech:

"In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
All praise is due to Allah, Lord of the Worlds, and peace and greetings be upon our Master and Prophet, Ab-al-Qassem al-Mustafa Muhammad, and upon his immaculate and infallible household. And greetings be upon the Imams of Muslims and supporters of the oppressed, especially upon the Commander of the Faithful, the Mistress of all women, Hassan and Hussein - the children of mercy and the Imams of the guided - Ali ibn al-Hussein Zayn al-Abidin, Muhammad ibn Ali, Ja'far ibn Muhammad, Musa ibn Ja'far, Ali ibn Musa, Muhammad ibn Ali, Ali ibn Muhammad, Hassan ibn Ali and Hujjat al-Qaem al-Mahdi, Your representative among Your servants and trustworthy ones in Your land.
The first thing that I would like to say in the second sermon is to greet and congratulate all the brothers and sisters who say prayers and to advise them to observe piety.
The events that occurred in our region during the month of Ramadan and before that, were and still are bitter events. Unfortunately, some vicious hands made the blessed month of Ramadan bitter for the regional peoples. Many Muslim peoples in Yemen, Palestine and Syria experienced difficult days and fasts because of the evil plots of the enemies. All these events are important to our people.
Another issue is a domestic one: the issue of the nuclear negotiations. I deem it necessary to raise a few points in this regard. The first point is a word of thanks to officials in charge of these long and arduous negotiations - the honorable President and particularly the negotiation team who really made great efforts and worked hard. They will certainly be divinely rewarded whether the document that has been prepared will- through its determined legal procedures- be ratified or not. We have said this to those brothers in person as well.
Of course in order to ratify this document, there is a clear legal procedure that, by Allah's favor, has to be taken. We expect that these officials take the interests- interests of the country, interests of the people- into consideration by paying careful attention, so that when they deliver the matter to the people, they can do so with their heads held high in front of Allah the Exalted as well.
The next point is that by Allah's favor and grace, no one will be allowed to take advantage of this document in any way and to undermine the fundamental principles of the Islamic Republic whether this document is ratified or not. The defense capabilities and the security area of the country will- by God's grace- be protected although we know that the enemies have placed great emphasis on these areas. The Islamic Republic will never give in to the enemy's greed in the area of protecting its defense capabilities and security- particularly in this environment filled with the enemies' threats.
The next point is that whether this document is ratified or not, we will not abandon our regional friends: the oppressed people of Palestine, the oppressed people of Yemen, the people and government of Syria, the people and government of Iraq, the oppressed people of Bahrain and the sincere mujahids of the Resistance in Lebanon and Palestine. These people will always enjoy our support.
The next point is that our policy towards the arrogant government of America will not change in any way despite these negotiations and the document that has been prepared. As we have said many times, we have no negotiations with America on different global and regional issues. We have no bilateral negotiations with America. Sometimes, we have negotiated with them in exceptional cases such as the nuclear issue and we have done so because of our interests. The nuclear issue was not the only case. There were other cases as well which I have referred to in my previous public speeches. The American policies in the region are 180 degrees the opposite of the policies of the Islamic Republic. The Americans accuse Hezbollah and the Lebanese Resistance - who are the most self-sacrificing forces in their country in the area of national defense - of terrorism. There is no injustice worse than this. This is while they support the terrorist child-killing government of Zionism. How can one do business, negotiate and reach an agreement with such a policy? There are other cases as well and I will expand on them in other speeches.
Another point is about the Americans' blustering in recent days. In the recent days that the negotiations have been concluded, the American excellencies - their male and female officials - are busy blustering. Each of them is blustering in a different way. Of course, this is alright with us. Their domestic problems force them into blustering. They claim that they have dragged Iran towards the negotiating table, that they have made Iran surrender, that they have obtained such and such concessions from our country and other such claims. However, the truth is something else. They say that they have prevented Iran from building nuclear weapons, but this has nothing to do with our negotiations with America and other countries. They themselves know this and sometimes they have spoken about the importance of the fatwa that bans nuclear weapons.
According to the commands of the Holy Quran and Islamic sharia, we consider building, keeping and using nuclear weapons as haraam and therefore, we will not do so. This has nothing to do with them and with these negotiations. They themselves know that this is the truth. They know that what prevents the Islamic Republic from building nuclear weapons is not their threats and intimidating behavior. There is a religious barrier behind this and they know the significance of this fatwa, but they still claim that it was they who prevented Iran. They are not honest with their own people and they do not tell them the truth. On various other matters, they say that they have adopted such and such a measure about Iran's nuclear industry and that they have forced Iran to surrender, but they can only see Iran's surrender in their dreams.
From the beginning of the Revolution until today, five other U.S. presidents died or were lost in history dreaming that they would force the Islamic Republic to surrender. You too will enjoy the same fate. You too will never achieve the dream of forcing the Islamic Republic to surrender.
There was one point in the statements that the American president made in recent days: he admitted to America's past mistakes. Of course, he said a hodgepodge of things. He admitted that the Americans made a mistake in Iran on the 28th of Mordad. He admitted that the Americans made a mistake in helping Saddam Hussein. He admitted to two, three mistakes, but he did not mention tens of others. He did not speak about the 25-year oppressive and treacherous rule of the second Pahlavi monarch. He did not speak about the many instances of torture, looting, massacre, disaster and calamity that were caused by America. He did not speak about the destruction of the Iranian peoples' dignity and America's efforts to trample upon their domestic and foreign interests. He did not speak about the Zionists' domination, the killing of Iranian passengers on a passenger plane and many other things. Nonetheless, he mentioned a number of mistakes.
I would like to offer a friendly word of advice to these excellencies: today - after the passage of many years from the 28th of Mordad, the eight-year war and the defense that the Islamic Republic put up there - you acknowledge that you have made certain mistakes. I would like to say to you that you are making a mistake in the present time as well. In the present time too, you are busy making mistakes in different places in the region and particularly towards the Islamic Republic and the people of Iran. In a few years, someone else will turn up and show you your mistakes, just as today you are admitting to the mistakes that your predecessors made. You are making mistakes as well. Therefore, you should awaken, correct your mistakes and understand the truth. You are making grave mistakes in the region.
What I want to say to the people of Iran is that by Allah's favor and grace, the Islamic Republic has become powerful and strong. It has become stronger on a daily basis. It is 10, 12 years now that six great global powers - which are among powerful countries in the world in terms of economic wealth - have been sitting in front of Iran, trying to prevent it from pursuing its nuclear industry. They have said this openly. Their real goal is to open the nuts and bolts of the nuclear industry. They have said this to our officials many years ago. In the present time too, they pursue the same dream. The result of a 10, 12-year struggle with the Islamic Republic is that they have been forced to tolerate the operation of several thousand centrifuges in the country. They have been forced to tolerate the continuation of this industry in our country. They have been forced to tolerate the development of this industry and the continuation of research on it. Research and developing the nuclear industry will continue. The cycle of the nuclear industry will continue.
This is what they have been trying to prevent for many years, but today they have signed on paper that they have no problem with our nuclear industry. Apart from the power of the Iranian people, what other meaning does this have? This has been achieved because of the people's resistance and steadfastness and our dear scientists' courage and innovation. God's mercy be upon the likes of Shahriari, Rezainejad, Ahmadi Roshan and Ali Muhammadi. God's mercy be upon our nuclear martyrs. God's mercy be upon their families. God's mercy be upon a people who stand by their truthful claims and rights.
I would like to raise another point which is the last one. An individual has said that he can destroy Iran's army. Our predecessors used to call such statements, "boasting among strangers" [audience laughs]. I do not want to say anything more in this regard. If those who will hear this statement want to know the truth and if they are willing to use their experiences correctly, they should know that should any war break out - of course we do not welcome and begin any war - he who will emerge humiliated [literally: "head-cracked"] out of it, will be transgressing and criminal America."

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

What Do Iran's Clerics Talk About?

What do Iran's clerics talk about? Well the short answer is, not just about the spiritual and religious matters as they should, but just about everything and all topics that they find interesting.
In the Iranian comedy movie, the Lizzard, there is a scene where a cleric is talking on state TV about Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction and describing in detail Tarantino's quintessential techniques as a film director, while the hero of the film, the fugitive prisoner who has to disguise himself as a cleric to escape, watches with amazement and says "these clerics can talk about everything!".

You may also be amazed when you watch this clip below and read the translation of what the cleric tells his faithful audience about the sharia aspects of oral sex and the canonical legalities of swallowing semen.

Translation of the sermon above:
"Eating semen is forbidden and its a sin. People ask me, 'Mr. Dehnavi is sex by the mouth ok? 'What Westerners refer to as oral sex, meaning sex with the mouth and the tongue, man or woman. whether the man wants to have sex with his mouth and tongue or the woman.. Yes that is ok. Thats ok in Sharia. Its eating the sperm which is haram and forbidden ... sex by the mouth in the holy sharia however is not haram, although personally I find it distasteful, I am not that keen on it, I have even said so on state TV, yes it may be that some men and women will become doubly excited, yes it is possible...others however may be turned off by it. Some men think if they are enjoying it their wife must be enjoying it and force them to have oral sex, although it will probably put her off, if she has just warmed up and is about to be turned on, she may lose her urge to have sex altogether and not be able to please him.."

As you can see in the video, there are plenty who go to his 'scholarly' talks to be enlightened. The important thing is men and women are separated in the audience and women are all covered up.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

The Fiery Speech by a Female Iranian Teacher Protesting for Better Pay

This footage below was sent to me by one of the teachers taking part in the widespread strike by the Iranian teachers. They are demanding better pay and conditions.

The video shows a fiery speech made by a female teacher. See the translation below:

"Most of the martyrs in the war were from our ranks, the teachers and pupils, so we have paid our fair share for this revolution, but sadly we have received the least just rewards for our sacrifices, during these days of strike, I read things that saddened me, I want to address the Friday Prayer leaders who in their sermons speak against us teachers, they say "when a teacher talks about money, it means knowledge has been abandoned in exchange for wealth"! I ask these clerics who have put on the prophet's robes, who wear the messenger of Allah's turban on their heads, why is it that when wealth comes your way, it doesn't mean your religion has been abandoned for wealth? Why is it that most of the factories are owned by your lot? [crowds applause] Is religion just for me, a teacher? I am proud that I am a teacher, we are the faithful servants of real Islam, for us the first teacher is God and then his messengers, yet they say if there is talk of free lunch somewhere, the teachers will run to there, this is sad, Yes, I, a teacher am hungry, because there are many greedy stomachs in our country, [crowds applause] Yes, I a teacher have no money, because all the cash has been plundered by the children of the officials running the country, [crowds applause] My pockets are empty, because the sons and daughters of this country have such grand villas in Canada and European countries, [crowds applause] .."

Monday, May 11, 2015

A letter to Zarif

Letter written by Mitra Pourshajari, whose father, Siamak Mehr, languishes in Iran's jails for having expressed his opinion on his blog, to Islamic republic's foreign minister, Javad Zarif, who told Charlie Rose, no one is jailed in Iran for their opinion!

"Mr. Zarif, your Smile Cannot Hide your Fear"

Once again, one of the high ranking officials of the Islamic Republic of Iran, its internationally  renowned Foreign Minister, denied the arrest and punishment of Iranian citizens for dissenting and using of their basic rights including freedom of expression, freedom of association, and freedom to express dissatisfaction with their government. In an interview with PBS America on april 19, 2015, Mohammad Javad Zarif, stressed to millions of American viewers that ''We do not jail people for their opinions.''

Mr. Zarif's speech has haunted me ever since I heard it, reviving all the bitter memories of the past five years and the situation of my father who in 2010, was tried and sentenced to death initially and then to prison for what he wrote in his blog. It's so painful and difficult to live with the fact that the dearest person in your life is living in the most deplorable conditions of solitary confinement, torture and prison, with severe health problems threatening his life every day. It is even harder to see that Iranian officials who have failed to improve the living conditions for my father and other prisoners of conscience, ignore and deny their very existence.

It was about three years ago that my interrogator, a man named "Mohammadi" from the Ministry of Information in Mashhad, glanced at me from head to toe, stared in my eyes and said: ''I have your 5-years prison sentence in my hand for informing the public about your father and communicating with foreign media, you are too young to be able to bear this time in Mashhad's Vakil Abad Prison. Your father is in our hand and try to cross the stream where it is shallowest. Those people and media abroad can't help your father at all, they just use your situation for their own benefit''.

Mohammadi's dirty and hateful gaze convinced me to leave the country for good as soon as I could. The fear of imprisonment and rape forced me to leave my father alone there and carry with me, wherever I live, my regrets, loneliness, and the pain of being separated from him.

So, why where they so apprehensive of my activities and my revealing the real identity of my father and what he was about?

Siamak Mehr, the pen name of my father, Siamak Pourshajari, the writer of ''The report to the land of Iran'' weblog, was a 50 years old man who wrote about his beliefs and personal views. In his blogs, he mainly criticized Islam, protested against Islamic Republic's policies, defended freedom of opinion and expression, and called for the establishment of a democratic and secular state in Iran. In 2010 he was assaulted and arrested by revolutionary guards and intelligence foces and was detained in solitary confinement for eight months and tortured.

His interrogators had printed and highlighted my father's blogs and showed them to him before beating him to the edge of unconsciousness. They told their colleagues to rinse the pen with which he signed the interrogation sheets because, they said, he had insulted the Prophet and is ''unclean''. They tortured my father because they believed that in one of his articles, he had insulted ''Henry Corbin'' - a French scholar of Islam. Finally, in order to stop the pressure, not repent, and avoid self-incriminating confessions, my father tried to commit suicide by breaking his eye glass and cutting his wrists.  After a few days of being unconscious, it was with the slaps of an agent telling him ''You must not die, you must die from pain for having insulted sanctities and the Imams" that he woke-up. And the agent meant it.

Twice the interrogators asked my father to write his will, took him to the gallows to be executed, and then brought him back to his cell. To torture him further as a blogger and a prisoner of conscience, they incarcerated him with prisoners convicted of crimes, such as murder, kidnapping, rape and banditery.
When, I went to see, for the last time, the judge in charge of implementing sentences to protest against my father's transfer, I asked him to send him - based on the principle of separation of prisoners - to Rajai Shahr prison's political prisoners ward, the judge was clear about why my father was in prison. He told me:
Do you know who your father is and what he has written? Do you know that he has questioned and insulted all of our sanctities? In my view he is not a human being and should stay there to die, if I could, I would execute both of you right now..."
For what reason other than expressing his views in his writings is my father treated with such cruelty, insulted, and humiliated? During these years of physical and psychological pressure, my fahter has had two strokes and is still suffering from high blood pressure, kidney disease, and prostate problems. He is loosing his life, bit by bit. And yet, a high ranking official claims that stories of people like my father are lies and fabrications.

Thousands of Iranian have been murdered, executed or imprisoned and tortured in the Islamic Republic for their opinions. So many among them have done nothing but excercising their rights as authors and publishing their critical views against the regime. Their crime is their pen. If Mr Zarif believes that these people's misdeeds are not related to their beliefs, what have they done to spend so many years of their lives in prisons and torture chambers of the Islamic Republic? If charges against them are not baseless, why are you trying them behind closed doors so that Iranians and the world do not learn about their beliefs, do not hear their defense, and do not see how their right to due process is violated and how unjust your justice is?

With your hypocritical smiles Mr. Zarif, you are trying to deceive the world's public opinion on the Islamic Republic, where human rights violations are systemic and grave, and reduce international pressures to secure the longevity of a regime that survives by suppressing dissent.

Mr Zarif, if my father is not a prisoner of conscience, why then his writings were used against him? If there are no prisoners of opinions in Iran, then open the prisons' doors to the United Nations Special Rapporteurs. If you are not afraid to see the unlawful behavior of the intelligence and law enforcement forces and that of the judiciary being exposed;  if you are not afraid to see the general public learn about the beliefs of my father and other opponents of the Islamic Republic; if you are not afraid to see the world realize that you are not speaking on behalf of all Iranians, open the doors of your courtrooms to the public and respond to citizens' criticism in front of TV cameras rather than in interrogation rooms.
 Mr. Zarif's outrageous denial may have gone unchallenged by Charlie Rose, his PBS interviewer, but I am here to challenge him on behalf of my father and other prisoners of opinion who are wasting the lives in Iranian prisons today.

Mitra pourshajari