Kianoosh Sanjari is an Iranian journalist and human rights activist and is currently a member of the Committee of Human Rights Reporters in Iran and the Democratic Iran Society. Additionally, he writes an English blog covering news about Iranian political prisoners and is a member of the Iranian Blog Writers.
In the past, he has been the producer, reporter, writer, and anchor for Voice of America, a spokesperson for the Iranian Political Prisoners Association, and a consultant at the Freedom House. Sanjari also publishes Farsi articles and interviews regarding human rights violations and the situation of Iranian political prisoners.
Why I’m Not Free
My childhood, my adolescence and my youth was accompanied with these fears and so many others like me, are living with these fears, and of course they would learn how to use any existing gaps in the society to be happy and to live with happiness although all existing restriction in Iran. But for me it was different, when I grew up more and found my way to the university, at the beginning some questions had been formed in my mind. The enlarged questions like: why I’m not free in my country? Also why the students are arrested and why the journalists are jailed, why newspapers couldn’t criticize the government? Why they are arrested in case of criticizing the government? …there is something wrong inside the Iranian ruling system. The main problem is that this government is based on religious laws and these laws have problems with people’s demands, desires, wishes and their futures.
Arrested by Ordinary Clothes Agents
When I was 17, I participated in a gathering in anniversary of university dormitory rush in 78 and I was arrested there, I was in the gathering in 79 (1999) that “ordinary clothes agents” arrested me. “Ordinary clothes agents” are pressure groups affiliated to intelligence ministry and revolutionary guards; they wear ordinary clothes (not uniforms) and look like other people. …After that, I was slapped and beaten, without any charges, or telling me my charges, then they took me to police detention and they kept me there 2-3 days without water and food… I was sat down on a chair; I didn’t know where I am. I thought I am in the torture room, Perhaps it was an old bathroom. It was a horrible place; they asked me, “Which radio do you listen? Which TV do you watch? What news do you read? To What kind of news do you have access? With whom did you come to this gathering? With which group, do you have activity?” … After that I was transferred to Evin prison…
From Evin Prison to Asylum
Some people escape from the other way through Pakistan. But in recent years, the number of people who escape through Turkey or Kurdistan of Iraq is more than those who during the first years of the revolution escaped through, for example, Pakistan and sought asylum there. I chose the path through Kurdistan of Iraq because I had a Kurdish friend who was familiar with Kurdish families and the villages in the Kurdistan of Iran. We went through the mountain in darkness with this friend, fearing that we will be shot in those areas. There had been plenty of people who have lost their lives through fire shot while they were on their way to leave their country. But I survived passing the mountain and my friends in Kurdistan of Iraq helped me to stay a while in Kurdistan of Iraq.