Friday, May 29, 2009

Iranian Graduate Society Meeting at SOAS

Went to an interesting meeting at SOAS yesterday organised by the Society of Iranian Graduates. The first thing that striked me was the wide spectrum of political affiliation and views amongst the audience. It showed that despite our differences we have more in common and for that reason we should meet, talk and exchange views more often.

It was quite rewarding when a couple of people in the crowd recognised me and said they read my posts and sometimes left comments, but even more rewarding was to see Moussavi Khoeini amongst the panel members. You can imagine the feeling when you campaign for someone's release and you write about their plight and then one day come face to face with them.

Moussavi Khoeini talked about the conditions of Iranian political prisoners, mentioning all the suspicious deaths in the last few years starting with Akbar Mohammadi to more recent deaths of Reza Mir Sayyafi and Amir Heshmat Saran and the current worrying situation of Behrooz Javid Tehrani. Moussavi Khoeini emphasised the importance of campaigning for political prisoners and asked the audience to campaign for the release of all Iran's political prisoners without any prejudice against their political views or affiliations. He received a rapturous applause. It was obvious why all the Iranian dissidents and former political prisoners I have met or communicated with, all speak highly of this former MP and political prisoner himself, Moussavi Khoeini.

Another panel member was Dr. Seyf who teaches economics at Staffordshire university. I knew him years ago but had lost touch with him, it was good to catch up with him again. He talked about the current calamity of the Iranian economy, the lack of transparency, the growing year on year deficit, the dangerous reliance on the oil income and the economic programs of the current candidates for presidency of the Islamic Republic.

Perhaps the one panel member that spoiled the evening was BBC Persian's Massoud Behnood, not because I disagree with him but because I know him to be such a liar and as usual he was full of fun stories from the past with a lot of dishonesty and distortion about the present. A member of audience questioned him about his role in turning BBC Persian into a platform for reformists only. Outside I reminded him about an incident outside the Islamic Centre in Maida Vale and told him it wasn't only Ahmadinejad that lied through his teeth.

Putting aside BBC Persian's Massoud Behnood, it was a warm and lively discussion and the Q&A went on well past the initial allocated time until nearly 11:00 pm followed by a lot more friendly discussions outside. Hope the Iranian Graduate Society can build on this success and bring Iranians of different views together under one roof more often.


Winston said...

Interesting meeting, to say the least.

barmakid said...

I wish I was there...

I'll be in London soon for like half a day on my way to Iran. I started posting on this blog when I was 23, now I'm 25 - I think you should make an effort to come to the airport and get a cup of coffee and learn something :))

ehtiaji nist gol ya shirini biarri, but it would be nice. I like lalles and rollette (but without rosewater).


Azarmehr said...

I don't know about Laleh and rollette but I will definitely make an effort to come and meet you and say hello. Leave you email as a comment and I won't publish it. Your last email didn't work after a couple of exchanges.

How would I recognise you, will you be wearing a Kafan or a chaffiyeh? :))

Anonymous said...

How times change and change of fortunes transforms loyalties!

Summer holidays before the revolution brought Dr. Hamid Mowlana back from the campus of the American university to the throes of loud music and heavy partying at the famous Tehran discotheque for the elite called the Key Club.

Unlike others however, the Dr. did not have to wait in line to get in. No he would be ushered in as a VIP!

After all, Hamid Mowlana was an eager groupie of Mahmoud-Reza Pahlavi, the handsome and party loving brother of the late Shah.

How times change and change of fortunes transforms loyalties!

barmakid said...


I see you found me on Facebook. I am contemplating whether or not to befriend you. I feel like it will give you too much ammo in these exchanges we have:))

But as you can see, I wear neither a kafan or a chaffiyeh - but I am much bigger than you, so I would advise you not to irk me or there will be consequences (physical consequences) :))