Wednesday, September 27, 2023

‘It is not possible to organise in Iran’: jailed activist warns of totalitarianism after Mahsa Amini protests.

Majid Tavakoli says protesters should have had more help from abroad but the west doesn’t understand what Iran has become

The majority of Iranians wish for a “normal life and for a government similar to the governments based on the liberal democratic system”, one of Iran’s most prominent political activists has said, as he prepares to start a six-year jail sentence, leaving his wife and three-year-old daughter behind.

Majid Tavakoli’s incarceration is part of the extraordinary crackdown that the Iranian regime has imposed on dissent as a result of protests sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini in police custody after she was arrested for wearing the hijab improperly. The first anniversary of Amini’s death falls on Saturday, and the regime is taking every step to prevent protests, including with patrols outside the Amini family home.

Tavakoli is unusual because he is critical of reformists working inside the system and the communist left. He has been in and out of prison since his 20s. Nazanin Boniadi, the British-Iranian actor and human rights campaigner, describes him as “a man of courage and conviction who has become an even more prominent voice inside the country over
the past year”.

He is open about the pain of the imminent rupture from his family. “It is very distressing to be away from them. There is a lot of love in our family. We are very dependent and attached to each other. It is painful to remember this distance every moment.” …