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Iranian Political Prisoner After His Release: We Do Not Repent, Have Full Belief In Our Struggle

By Fereshteh Ghazi, Rooz Online

Last week when he was released from Evin prison, where he had spend the last four years as a political prisoner, Amin (Peyman) Chalaki, the 2009 deputy manager of Mir-Hossein Mousavi’s election campaign in Saveh, held up a photograph of his former boss in defiance of those who had arrested, sentenced and imprisoned him.

Amin (Peyman) Chalaki holds a photo of Opposition leader Mir-Hossein Mousavi

Rooz spoke with Chalaki who explained, “The photograph of Mousavi that I held up in front of the prison was telling. It announces that we not only will not repent, but truly believe in continuing the path that we have embarked on.”

Chalaki was arrested along with his wife on January 17, 2010 in the northern Iranian town of Saveh. Agents interrogated his three-year-old daughter. His wife received a two year suspended prison sentence; he was sentenced to four. But being interrogated at three was not the only ordeal Mana Chalaki went through. Four years later when she needed medical help for an accident with her hand, she was refused admittance to the hospital because she could not produce the written consent of her father who was in prison. Prison officials not only did not give Amin Chalaki leave to visit his daughter when she hurt herself but denied him even a normal visit by his daughter.

Read on Rooz’s conversation with Amin.

“Since my release, one of my most serious concerns is for my friends who are still in prison. These include Mir-Hossein Mousavi, Mr. Karoubi, and Ms Zahra Rahnavard. Until they remain under house arrest, my release does not mean anything. Freedom is a social phenomenon and has no value when a single person has it. I am concerned about those in prison especially as conditions in Ward 350 have become much more difficult. Medical treatment takes place under very difficult conditions. Our dear friend Naimipoor, has lost his hearing because of a rupture to his ear drum; he needs medical treatment but the prosecution denies it to him. Mr. Abdol-Fattah Soltani needs treatment for his heart but they deny it to him. I am concerned about them and others and even though I am out of prison, part of me is still there with them,” he said.

Speaking about the time he spent behind bars, he said, “Prison was a very, very good opportunity for me to learn closely about the friends who had come from different places, just as the Green Movement itself was a focus for many different people, and to hear them speak. It was a good opportunity to read 24,000 to 25,000 pages of books and focus and think more deeply. I think the most beautiful words were said by Mir-Hossein Mousavi when he stressed on patience. Just as silence has a meaning in music, and other notes can be defined by the short silence, the political-social atmosphere in Iran too needs that silent pause, a greater patience. A major event took place in 2009, a valuable event that I think will be a shinning spot in the next generation’s struggle. I think engineer Mousavi presented these deep notions in his 17 statements which are clear, detailed and precise. My views have changed. I believe that our people have been engaging in political issues through the channels of the government. It is over a hundred years since the constitutional movement that all the efforts of freedom fighters in this country rely on the government. I believe that political engagement should be undertaken through civil society. This is something that we have been denied for years. We must go back into civil groups and work there. Calls for democracy will not be achieved until they are deepened in the pillars of civil society. The events that took place in the country after the reform period (of Mohammad Khatami) indicate that we have not succeeded in deepening civil society with these concepts. Many accomplishments were lost after the reform period. I hope the opportunity will come up for me to do more for this path. I felt the first thing that happened on my release was telling. The photograph that I held up in front of the prison is telling that we not only are not repenting but honestly believe in the path we have embarked on. Most of the people in prison are honest people and believe in the path they have embarked on. Most certainly this is also the path of the people who have in recent years paid a very heavy price.”

Speaking about his future plans, Chalaki said, “I need to reorient myself with the atmosphere here. See my friends, listen more. But no matter what, this path of ours is irreversible. People will certainly pursue their demands and will strive. We too must continue this. These past few years have shown that the struggle and resistance that Mousavi, Karoubi and Rahnavard have put up for their cause is the price that has to be paid for our goals. The elections of 2013 showed us that people are pursuing their demands and search for opportunities. Not only are people not indifferent but they are search for opportunities to play their historic role. This has happened before and will happen in the future as well.”

Chalaki believes that the interrogation that state agents subjected his three-year old daughter to speak of the essence of the security apparatus of the regime. “Our children are conditioned by our conditions and situations, just as we pay the price for the denial of our most basic rights. Our children too are paying the price for these conditions. The regime cannot have merci even on three year old children. On the other hand, I think that my daughter’s generation is now so strong that it can stand on its own feet. That generation is firm in its demands,” he said.

Speaking about his daughter’s accident when he was still in prison, Chalaki said, “It was very difficult for me not to be at her side. My wife was alone. They did not allow me to even go visit my daughter when she was in hospital. Other prisoners too are deprived of their most basic rights such as making a telephone call, and in-person visitations. Mr. Massoud Sadeghi for example has not seen his small child for two years and still is not allowed to go on leave. There are other older prisoners such as Mr. Rabani who is over 70 years of age.”

Chalaki concluded by looking to the future and saying, “I think a new round of political efforts must be launched in the country. Political groups must turn their attention to civil society and pursue their political goals there. This is the place where notions such as democracy and human rights should be deepened.”


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