The recent Iranian presidential elections and the win by Hassan Rohani have made
Iranians happy, says Paris-based Iranian journalist Nooshabeh Amiri. She
acknowledges, however that there are many obstacles that will prevent Rohani
from making the necessary changes in the regime’s policies.
Post interviewed Amiri, a journalist based in Paris who left Iran in 2005 after
being persecuted by the government. She and her husband, Houshang Asadi, spent
time in and out of prisons, surviving torture and the loss of their home in
Amiri is an editor for the Iranian website Rooz, made up, mostly,
of exiled Iranian journalists and published in France.
that the election was not completely democratic and that the candidates allowed
to run were pre-selected, but compares it to the last vote four years ago when
incumbent president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad beat a leader of the Green Movement, Mir
Hussein Mousavi, in what many thought was a fraudulent election.
time, she said, the candidate supported by the reformist forces
Amiri explained that Iranian exiles were divided on whether to vote
in the elections from abroad.
“I am against the regime and that is why I
did not vote myself,” she said, adding that she understands those who did vote
and their good intentions.
Amiri and her husband Asadi were interviewed
in an article in The New York Times at the end of last year and described how
they were both imprisoned in 1974 during the rule of the shah, Mohammed Reza
Asadi told how, as a communist journalist, he was thrown in
prison and befriended another prisoner who eventually became the current supreme
leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
In an added twist, Asadi was
later arrested by the Islamic Republic, tortured, and sentenced to death. He was
released six years later after lying about his religious faith and loyalty to
the regime, according to the interview in the Times.
Amiri told the Post
that she supports any steps that put pressure on the regime for it to change its
policies, both domestically and abroad – including its support for Hezbollah and
the Syrian regime.
The majority of Iranians are against the current
situation and the government’s policies, she said. She went on to complain about
European countries such as Germany and France, that allow certain business
relations with Iran.
Asked if those who are opposed to the regime would
support a Western attack on the country, she responded, “I have not seen anybody
who is for war, but there are so many that are against the Islamic
Amiri explained that sanctions and pressure by the international
community have worked in some ways, though they have not been
“Look at the members of the government who visit all the
European countries while at the same time they are violating human rights. Why
are they allowed to go to these countries?”
She does not see an armed opposition
movement like that in Syria succeeding in Iran because, she says, Iranians are
The online newspaper Amiri works for is read in Iran
and people often need to come up with ways to break through the online
censorship, which is very strong.
“The regime wants to cut off the
relationship between the Iranians outside of the country and those inside,” she
Asked what she thinks about Israel, Amiri responded, “Iran and
Israel could be close friends for so many different reasons and their relations
could be like those that we had during the Shah’s regime.”
There was an
Israeli embassy in Iran at the time and relations between the two were like
those with any other country, she said. While Iranians tend to support the
Palestinians Amiri said, they were not as strongly against Israel as is the
“The regime needs enemies to stay in power,” she
In Iran, Amiri said, her neighbor, who was one of her best friends,
was Jewish. She also said that she would like to visit Israel in the
What is important, Amiri said, is that there are cracks within
At the beginning of the Islamic Republic under its founder,
Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the regime was united, but “Khamenei does not have
the same kind of power. They do not even accept him from inside the government,”
she said. “In the 1980s and ’90s the regime was stronger.”
concluded, “My life is already ruined, half of my life spent passing through
prisons, losing my job, house, country, and having to immigrate – it is
horrible,” she said.