Kouhyar Goudarzi is one of dozens of Iranian human rights defenders participating in a campaign to back last month's nuclear deal with world powers. The Iranian activist, journalist and blogger has been imprisoned six times in the past ten years in Iran and serves as the head of the Committee of Human Rights Reporters. As a reformist who has protested in the streets and come into conflict so many times with the Iranian regime, his choice to support a deal which will strengthen that same government, may come across as somewhat puzzling. The Jerusalem Post reached out to Goudarzi, to get to the bottom of this conundrum.
But you fought for human rights in Iran and the deal will strengthen a regime which isn't so fond of human rights. So how can the reforms you have been fighting for be realized in these conditions?
Why are you supporting the Iranian deal? Aren't you afraid that the deal will make the current government stronger and perhaps also crueler toward the citizens of Iran?
Because I believe it's in everyone's interest - Iranian people and the global society. Talking - that's the point from which all real changes start.
That's the wrong way of interpreting it. You must have heard that during the talks Iran stopped backing Hamas. Although informal, that should be a good reason for Israelis to back the deal.
I think what lets the Iranian regime violate human rights is a weakened civil society. When most of the middle class is worried about their primary needs, they don't have any chance to form what we call social cores. A better economy (and then being connected to global free markets) is going to strengthen the private sector, which I think could benefit the middle class.Interesting. What about Israel? Do you think anything can be changed in the relations and the hatred between the countries? I think two nations are interested in getting to know each other better. But because of the hardliners and extremists on both sides that opportunity has been missed so far. And that's not just Iranian authorities but also ring-wing parties in Israel. Israel needs to do the same thing that Iran has started to do: listening to what global society wants. This is something that won't be achieved with people like [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu. These people, anywhere, are what's really wrong with the world and what prevents it from being a peaceful place.
Would you like to visit Israel one day?I would like to. Maybe by invitation of an independent advocacy or academic group.
I think many Israelis hope that youth like yourself will one day revolt and think that now it will never happen.
Revolt is not always the answer. This regime itself is the result of an immature revolution.
Where do you live now?
I have been living in DC now for almost six months.Will you ever return to Iran after everything you've been through?I can't go back to Iran at the moment. Because they [the Iranian authorities] sentenced me to five years in exile, in Zabol, a city near the Afghan border.But will you? Maybe someday in the future?Because they expelled me from university, I need to finish school and that was one of two main reasons why I decided to leave the country. I will certainly go back one day. A better day will come - it has to. Until then we will hold fast to our dreams.
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