Iran more op­pres­sive since sign­ing nu­clear deal

U.S. cash al­ready di­verted to armies

The Washington Times Weekly - - Geopolitics - BY ROWAN SCAR­BOR­OUGH

Now free in the West, re­cently es­caped po­lit­i­cal dis­si­dents say Iran’s regime has grown more op­pres­sive since its nu­clear deal with the U.S. and other world pow­ers that had hoped the agree­ment would mod­er­ate the Is­lamic-ruled na­tion.

The pro­test­ers also say the bil­lions of dol­lars in cash the U.S. shipped to Iran, plus the West’s re­lease of frozen Ira­nian bank as­sets, al­ready have been di­verted to Iran’s ex­pan­sion­ist armies in Iraq, Syria and else­where.

“Ev­ery deal, ev­ery ne­go­ti­a­tion with the regime, it means ad­di­tional gal­lows in Iran,” says Shab­nam Madadzadeh, 29, who gained fame as a stu­dent or­ga­nizer at Tehran’s Tar­biat Moalem Uni­ver­sity. She spent five harsh years in con­fine­ment, in­clud­ing in Iran’s no­to­ri­ous Evin prison, but she did not break.

Just a few weeks ago, Ms. Madadzadeh es­caped her home coun­try via a clan­des­tine net­work op­er­ated by the Peo­ple’s Mu­ja­hedeen of Iran, or MEK. She sur­faced in Paris and ap­peared at a con­fer­ence with other Ira­ni­ans op­posed to the hard-line mul­lahs who run the coun­try.

“Ira­nian peo­ple do not want ne­go­ti­a­tions with this regime, and they hate ap­pease­ment pol­icy with this regime,” Ms. Madadzadeh told The Wash­ing­ton Times. “They want the world, Euro­pean gov­ern­ments and United Na­tions and the U.S. to stay firmly against the regime’s pol­icy of vi­o­lence against hu­man rights — the regime’s crimes in Iran and Syria and ex­port­ing ter­ror­ism in the world. Ira­nian peo­ple want a change in regime by them­selves and re­sis­tance.”

A 2010 State De­part­ment re­port on hu­man rights vi­o­la­tions in Iran sin­gled out the vin­dic­tive prose­cu­tor who im­pris­ons dis­si­dents. One of his vic­tims: Ms. Madadzadeh.

The re­port said: “Tehran public prose­cu­tor, Saeed Mor­tazavi, the most no­to­ri­ous per­se­cu­tor of po­lit­i­cal dis­si­dents and crit­ics. Ac­cord­ing to in­ter­na­tional press re­ports, Mor­tazavi was put in charge of in­ter­ro­ga­tions at Evin prison, where most of the [2009] post­elec­tion pro­test­ers were de­tained.

“On Fe­bru­ary 19, au­thor­i­ties ar­rested Shab­nam Madadzadeh, a mem­ber of the Is­lamic As­so­ci­a­tion and deputy gen­eral sec­re­tary of the stu­dent or­ga­ni­za­tion Tahkim Vah­dat, along with her brother Farzad Madadzadeh. Au­thor­i­ties ac­cused her of dis­sem­i­nat­ing pro­pa­ganda against the state and ‘en­mity with God.’ De­spite her lawyer’s protests against her de­ten­tion, the judge re­fused to as­sign a bond for her re­lease, ar­gu­ing that she was a flight risk. As of midOc­to­ber, she was re­port­edly be­ing held in the women’s gen­eral sec­tion of Evin prison,” the re­port stated.

A year later the State De­part­ment re­ported that Ms. Madadzadeh was sen­tenced to five years in prison for spread­ing anti-state pro­pa­ganda. Her lawyer was not present in the court­room; au­thor­i­ties had de­tained him for protest­ing the death sen­tence of a teenager on a charge of mur­der.

An­other re­cent es­capee is Arash Mo­ham­madi, 25. He took part in street demon­stra­tions in Tehran over the re­sults of the 2009 elec­tion, which saw Pres­i­dent Mah­moud Ah­madine­jad re-elected amid charges of bal­lot fraud. Cur­rent Pres­i­dent Has­san Rouhani was elected in 2013.

“I was on the streets,” Mr. Mo­ham­madi said in his na­tive Farsi, through an MEK in­ter­preter. “The chants, ‘Obama, Obama, are you with them or with us?’”

Pres­i­dent Obama did not speak out in sup­port of pro­test­ers. He was in the process of reach­ing out to Iran’s supreme leader, Ay­a­tol­lah Ali Khamenei.

Like Ms. Madadzadeh, Mr. Mo­ham­madi sneaked out of Iran a few weeks ago. Both are seek­ing asy­lum in Europe.

As a col­lege stu­dent, Mr. Mo­ham­madi was ar­rested three times for pub­licly protest­ing against the regime. He was im­pris­oned for two years, dur­ing which in­tel­li­gence in­ter­roga­tors beat and threat­ened him. Even­tu­ally they of­fered him money to de­nounce the MEK and be­come an ac­cepted re­formist. He says he re­fused and now plans to be “a voice for the voice­less.”

His mes­sage to Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump: “The re­spon­si­bil­ity for change is with me and my gen­er­a­tion. We are the force for change. If the West wants to have a good rep­u­ta­tion in Iran, my point is, side with us. Side with the re­sis­tance. His­tory will re­mem­ber you in a good way. That’s for your bet­ter­ment and for Ira­nian peo­ple’s bet­ter­ment.”

The two dis­si­dents’ con­tention that hu­man rights abuses are get­ting worse, not bet­ter, since the April 2015 nu­clear deal ap­pears to be sup­ported by the U.N.

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