By Mohammad Reza Yazdanpanah of Rooz
The interview began with Faezeh’s laughter, and ended that way too. But in between I could see sadness in her face. I spoke with her about the Green Movement, the future Majlis elections, the controversial elections of 2009, and other issues. Her views confirm that Faezeh has clearly established herself as a leading personality independent of her father, Hashemi Rafsanjani, the current head of Iran’s State Expediency Council and a former two-time president and Majlis speaker. Read on for the details.
Rooz: How are you? Are you happy?
Faezeh Hashemi (FH): Very (laughter with sarcasm)! Not just me, so is the whole Iranian nation. Everything is just wonderful!
Rooz: What do you mean “everything is wonderful?”
FH: I say this sarcastically. In reality, political conditions in Iran, freedom and human rights are all very terrible. On the economic scene, the new subsidy plan is not being implemented according to the law but instead on personal whims with complete disregard to what the specialists in the field have said. Till now, the results have been bad. The plan is a good one and so it is a shame that it is being destroyed this way. On the foreign policy front, conditions are getting worse by the day. Differences with neighboring countries and with most of the world have unfortunately created a bad situation for our country and for Iranians. I see nothing positive to mention here.
Rooz: How about yourself? Mr. Hashemi’s family? Your father, mother, brothers and sister? How do they pass their time these days?
FH: We are like all other Iranians. My family’s conditions are like those of others. Unfortunately we live in the conditions of a police- and security- state. The pressures that exist on the whole nation exist for us as well. What you read about in the media about our family is true.
Rooz: People condemn what happened to you in Shah Abdolazim mausoleum and say those actions were done by rogue individuals. Do you think they were rogues or they were they organized by specific political circles?
FH: It is clear that they are not rogues. Such acts are fully planned not just for us but for everything and everybody, and they pursue this view that you either stay with them or stay silent. This is how they are treating all their opponents, without any discrimination.
Rooz: Who is doing this planning?
FH: The very same people who are issuing orders to violently suppress people. Circles inside the regime.
Rooz: The incident that took place in Shah Abdolazim mausoleum for you in the presence of your brother and some other relatives brought forth a lot of reactions and condemnation even by the highest government authorities, which are parts of the regime. Have you witnessed any signs of punishment of those who perpetrated engaged in that hooliganism?
FH: No. Did they punish those who perpetrated the Kahrizak atrocities, despite the massive propaganda? Did they identify and punish those responsible for the violence committed at Tehran University’s dormitory? The attacks on us are similar to those. Despite the condemnation of these acts by the highest authority in the country and others, we still see Saeed Majid (the person who verbally assaulted Faezeh and her family entourage in Shah Abdolazim memorial near Tehran) speaks very comfortably about what he did and repeats the same mentality. He has admitted that he is not in prison. It is not clear what the real story her is (laughter).
Rooz: What news do you have of Mr. Tajik?
FH: Fortunately none.
Rooz: I am sure you are aware that the attorney general, Mr. Mohseni Ejei has said that Mr. Tajik had been arrested but just two days later RoozOnline published an interview with him that showed him to be a free man and in which he repeated his foul language against you and your family. He even threatened that if they were confronted, Hezbollahi kids would not sit idle.
FH: During the Shah’s time, Shaboon Bimokh engaged in similar vulgar language and violent acts against their opponents. Today, unfortunately the same language is being used under the name of Islam, the revolution etc. The country is now run by these individuals. What can one say about this and what can one expect? The difference between then and now is that Shaboon Bimokh was just one person or a gang at the most, while these people are a network and act violently across all cities. As I said earlier, these are not rogue elements but are deliberately organized individuals. And these events are not exclusive to me. In recent years, many people have been attacked and treated similarly. This is a movement coming from the ruling circles which I believe has planned it, and so the condemnations are just a show.
Rooz: But the condemnations of these attacks were extensive. Your father yesterday spoke of a letter that had been written by the leader of the Islamic republic to the head of the judiciary demanding the prosecution of those who had perpetrated this. How real are these?
FH: I think the video showing the insults of Saeed Tajik were so repulsive that those gentlemen realized they had to at the least present a facetious opposition to or condemnation of it. Even the publication of the video clip was questionable. I am not sure whether they erred in that regard or that some infiltrators exposed them. They, however, viewed the whole episode as an accomplishment! So I do not know. But the video clip was so shameful that they had to respond to public opinion’s condemnations. But I do not see the denouncements as real and honest. Worse than the attacks on me are the situations in Kahrizak, which was condemned by the authorities, but what happened next? Where are the punishments? Where are the culprits?
After the condemnations, they still praised Tajik as an honest, pure and dedicated young man. These are the contradictions that make their condemnations insincere.
Rooz: Tell us a little about that incident. What were you doing in Shah Abdolazim?
FH: On that day we had gone for the burial ceremony of our relative who was being buried at the Shah Abdolazim cemetery. We were a large crowd and so these people noticed us and they realized that the ceremony was for a Hashemi relative.
Rooz: So they did not initially know that you were going to go to Shah Abdolazim?
FH: I do not know, but there were no signs that they knew in advance. In any case, we noticed that these plain-clothes agents began to talk about us.
Rooz: What happened next?
FH: After the burial ceremony, I left the place and that man followed me. The first part of the film relates to the insults against Mohsen.
Rooz: How long did the whole incident take?
FH: About 20 minutes. They followed us until the parking and said all those things that you see on the video clip. Then they returned to the site and insulted the family of the deceased and beat them up. Two days later when my uncle’s relatives returned to the site, they were again verbally assaulted and beaten up badly, which newspapers reported on.
Rooz: When you were being assaulted, were there no police or other government authorities around?
FH: When we were there, intelligence agents and the police were there and around us, who are always there for the protection of the cemetery and the site. The first incident took place inside the mausoleum of Shah Abdolazim and there were plenty of police and other law enforcement agents there who did nothing. When the verbal assaults intensified I felt so disgusted that I do not remember who was around us. But they (the police) are not allowed or do not have the courage to say something to these thugs. The police cannot perform its own duties in this regard.
Rooz: Mr. Tajik told Nooshabeh Amiri in her interview that the foul language that you hear in the video clip was not made by him. Do you remember who said those words?
FH: No, I did not. But I do not think it makes a difference because before the movie clip similar and even worse words were said by him against us.
Rooz: How did you feel at that time as they were cursing and insulting?
FH: (pause) I do not know. One only feels disappointment and sadness for the Islamic republic which portrays itself to defend Islam, the revolution, etc. At that time I just thought that these people are not Muslims because a Muslim would not do something like this.
Rooz: How do you feel now that you remember those 20 minutes?
FH: The only thing that comes to my mind is that these people have come to their dead end and are so under pubic pressure that they engage in such acts.
Rooz: What would you say if you saw Saeed Tajik?
FH: Nothing. I think these people have been given too much recognition and attention. Even under normal conditions I have nothing to say to these people.
Rooz: But these people, Saeed Tajik etc, proclaim to be believers in the Islamic republic, the velayat fagih (the supreme religious leader), etc?
FH: It is possible that a small percent of these people do these things out of conviction. But they too must reconsider their views. What kind of belief is this that allows a person to do precisely what the belief says they should not do? The end does not justify the means. I cannot do something un-Islamic to come to Islam. There is nothing in our religion that sanctions this. This is precisely the criticism that was leveled against the Mojahedin Khalq group. But aside this small group that has these beliefs because they are brainwashed, the larger part of this group do these things because of their interests.
Rooz: How do they brainwash them?
FH: The Revolutionary Guards, for example, has a class they call, ‘Identifying the enemy.” Guard members are obliged to attend it otherwise they will not move on. Who do you think is presented as the enemy in this class? Mr. Hashemi and his family. They organize meetings in government agencies and educational institutions and repeat the lies that the Guards continuously preach. The last time I was arrested they roamed me in the streets for hours and unfortunately those young people who drove me around repeated the same garbage. It is clear that they have filled their minds with these lies. They relate and retell these lies with such intensity, anger, and hatred that was shocking to me. Most of these are simply to maintain their interests.
Rooz: What interests?
FH: It is now a few years that people like these are bought with money, posts or titles in business companies. They know that if people win, they will lose these positions that have been given to them. So they protect their positions through these methods. If you look around you will notice that all administrative posts are held by these people. The same is true in the sphere of economics. All big corporations were handed over to these same people through article 44 (provisions of the constitution) rather than to the private sector. Look at the money they are spending to bring people into the streets to attack people. Then there are other privileges that are doled out, such as admissions to universities, and the provision of basic needs, all of which are given to the same people. If people win their struggle, then all of these privileges and positions will end. If they really follow the leader and believe in him, then why did this person, for example, repeat the very same nonsense after the leader condemned his actions? This shows that these are games and lies that they play with people’s beliefs.
Rooz: In addition to your father, are there other people who have years of friendship with your father and are in power now, engaged in efforts to end this state of affairs?
FH: I think so. Since the last presidential election a lot of efforts were undertaken by many people, but no results have ensued. Today, the issue is money, power, wealth, etc, otherwise you cannot have a person who believes in Islam, the Quran and the Islamic republic come forward and do these things such as insult people in public, engage in destructive actions, beat up people, kill people as a way to protect Islam. They themselves have destroyed Islam.
Rooz: You have been a supporter of the protest movement against the 2009 presidential election results and were even arrested a number of times for this (and of course released immediately) and have been assaulted. But have these events dissuaded you from supporting the Green Movement or do you regret your support?
FH: As I said earlier the rule these people are following is that you are either with them or stay silent or cease to exist altogether. Because the Green Movement, I and others are not with these people, but rather, we are critical of them and the current conditions, they exert pressure on us. The conditions in the country are those of a police state in every sphere of life. This is true in universities, offices, the media, etc.
Rooz: What about yourself?
FH: Not only does what they are doing weaken a person’s beliefs but on the contrary, it only strengthens their conviction in their path. Islam, civil society, human rights, and even Iran are all under threat today and everybody must act to save the country.
Rooz: What must happen for you to regret the path you have chosen?
FH: Regret or retreat?
FH: I will not be regretful. But to compromise and retreat, public opinion must be convinced that they will be compensated for the damage that has been caused during the last two years, the conflict over the elections of 2009 must be resolved, people who have inflicted harm to others must be punished, and everything else that will create the sense that the Islamic republic has returned to the right path.
Rooz: Have your doubts about the 2009 presidential election been resolved after these two years?
FH: Of course not.
Rooz: The majority of people still seem to doubt the announced results and believe that the elections were rigged. Since we have new parliamentary elections coming up in the next winter, what do you think should be the position of the Green Movement and the reformists regarding it. Mr. Khatami has announced certain conditions. Do you think that it is right to even talk about the next elections when the last one has not been settled?
FH: Under the current conditions I think one cannot even talk of the next elections. People have not been convinced over the last election and so the same issue will remain in the next one. Until the issues surrounding the 2009 presidential elections are not convincingly resolved, the conditions are not right for thinking about the next elections. The conditions that Mr. Khatami has set are good, but public opinion views about the last election should be added to them. I do not think the right conditions exist for protestors of the last election to think about the next election. Should they do that (and participate) then that would negate all the protests and sacrifices that were made during these 2 years protesting those elections and the conditions in the country.
Rooz: Do you believe that the current administration and the Guardians Council can hold honest elections?
FH: In view of what has happened in the past one cannot believe in this.
Rooz: The Green Movement will soon celebrate the start of its third year and some people want to celebrate the event. The arrests of Messrs Mousavi and Kahroubi have added a new dimension to this. How do you view the future of the movement?
FH: I am very optimistic. I believe the Green Movement is alive and active and is going forward. It changes its tactics and strategy as it goes along based on existing conditions, which is what should take place. Evil cannot last. It may continue for a while, but eventually will have to end. I only hope people will attain their goals with the least amount of harm and costs.
Rooz: Mr. Rafsanjani recently departed from the chairmanship of the Assembly of Experts on Leadership, or was removed. And now there is rumor of his removal from the State Expediency Council. Do you think this will take place?
FH: What Mr. Rafsanjani did regarding the Assembly of Experts should serve as a lesson for many. Regarding the State Expediency Council, I again mention the view that these people have. They will apply that rule for everyone, and it does not matter whether the person has a history of service or not. The policy of these men is the elimination of everybody.
Rooz: What course of action do you think Mr. Rafsanjani will choose?
FH: I do not know; let’s wait till that moment (laughter).