Keivan is on the phone with a friend: "The Iranian government needs no excuse to arrest people. They say that the money from foreign governments is bringing activists into danger. But the truth is that they do not need an excuse to close down ngos and arrest activists."
Well... it is a distressing time in Iran. The past few months have been the worst time for me in Iran. It was the first time in our almost four years there that we saw life in Iran the way that people outside the country sometimes imagine it: as repressive and oppressive. The night before we left for vacation we had kebab in a teahouse north of Tehran. When we left, we ran into a huge roadblock manned by fresh-faced religious police who all looked about 16 years old. They stopped every car looking for alcohol and infringements on morality. People we know have been arrested. Others have heard rumors of their own impending arrest. (These people are not even activists!)
A dear friend who is a teacher complained of rumors in the teaching community of a second "cultural revolution." "I survived the first," she told me, "because I am small, and I could hide so well, but many of my friends were executed."
Young people may dismiss these fears and do dismiss them, but for the middle-aged and older, the current patterns of behavior are distressingly reminiscent of more repressive times.
I leave you with this quote from Shaul Bakhash's article about his wife Haleh Esfandiari.
When Haleh was initially prevented from leaving Iran and the interrogations began, it was principally at my insistence that we did not "go public." Repeatedly I was told by those who supposedly understand the inner workings of Iran: "Don't worry; it's only an interrogation; once they have finished with their questions, they will let her go."
Once Haleh was arrested, however, silence was no longer an option. It is preposterous that she is accused of conspiring to overthrow the Iranian government by organizing conferences and encouraging dialogue between Iranians and Americans. The Wilson Center issued a fact sheet; Lee Hamilton, its president and director, held a news conference; and I began to speak openly about Haleh's frightening predicament.