Exiled journalist and human rights activist Fariba Davoodi Mohajer gives her testimony against lies, a testimony that many journalists in Iran would share if they did not fear reprisals
I, Fariba Davoodi Mohajer, have been a journalist for 20 years. During this time, I have witnessed the arrest of journalism colleagues, editors, members of journalists’ rights groups, and members of the Iranian press. I saw friends prosecuted in the Press Court, as well as by different branches of the Revolutionary Court, and imprisoned. Some of them put up with fierce interrogation, solitary confinement, and mental and physical torture. Some others, like the Iranian blogger Sattar Beheshti, died under torture.
Dear Charlie Rose, I was incarcerated in a men’s prison for 40 days and subjected to the most brutal kind of mental torture and constant interrogations. During those 40 days, I witnessed the cruelest torture against journalists in the prison cell next to mine, journalists like Hadi Saber, whom I can still hear being beaten across the face by the interrogator, and who ended up dead in hospital for unknown reasons.
Mr Rose, allow me to testify that many of my journalist colleagues were prosecuted in unjust courts, where they were forced to testify against themselves and their beliefs. They confessed to being traitors and spies, and after so long, they still have nightmares about solitary confinement, interrogations and torture.
As a journalist and human rights activist, I watch with regret when Mr Zarif blatantly lies in front of the cameras of a broadcaster, without any shame with regard to public opinion, while many Iranians are still in prison for simply holding certain beliefs. Even when they are freed, they enter a bigger prison, where they will constantly be monitored and fear arrest. These people have already lost their family, their job, and their dignity. They have had their lives ruined.
If it weren’t for fear of prosecution, my friends in Iran would write a testimony letter just like mine. They do not have access to a broadcaster to voice their protest against Javad Zarif — while you give him a platform, viewed by many, to lie. I am not hopeful that you will read my letter. If you do, I expect you to tell the world the story of journalists, human and women’s rights activists, and minorities in Iran who have experienced dark days in prison, undergone interrogation, and even received death sentences in some cases.
You can read other letters by Iranian journalists here: