Iranians flee country to escape repression

As an Iranian journalist after last year’s election, I faced a grim future. I was sentenced to 16 months in prison and my jail term was set to begin at any time. I had already been threatened with a much stiffer sentence — eight years in all — by the very same judge who now ordered ...

AFP/Getty Images
AFP/Getty Images
AFP/Getty Images

As an Iranian journalist after last year's election, I faced a grim future. I was sentenced to 16 months in prison and my jail term was set to begin at any time. I had already been threatened with a much stiffer sentence -- eight years in all -- by the very same judge who now ordered me to begin my sentence. My interrogator at the Ministry of Intelligence and the presiding judge both believed that I was not "going to become a human being," meaning that I would never get on the right political path. The interrogator said to me, "We keep giving you guys multiple chances and now it is enough. You guys are trying to overthrow the government."  As luck would have it, his detention order was not immediately carried out. After consulting with a number of friends, I decided to leave Iran.

I was not alone.  Following widespread protests against the disputed June 12 election and the harsh government crackdown on public demonstrations, a number of  Iranians felt they had no choice but to leave the country. For them, staying in Iran held only the promise of incarceration, torture, and possibly even death at the hands of jailors, judges, or the security forces.  No one could predict what might to happen in prison if he were arrested. This significant wave of migration was primarily composed of young journalists and political activists who had been on the streets during the day and then informed the world each evening about their activities.

Read more.

As an Iranian journalist after last year’s election, I faced a grim future. I was sentenced to 16 months in prison and my jail term was set to begin at any time. I had already been threatened with a much stiffer sentence — eight years in all — by the very same judge who now ordered me to begin my sentence. My interrogator at the Ministry of Intelligence and the presiding judge both believed that I was not "going to become a human being," meaning that I would never get on the right political path. The interrogator said to me, "We keep giving you guys multiple chances and now it is enough. You guys are trying to overthrow the government."  As luck would have it, his detention order was not immediately carried out. After consulting with a number of friends, I decided to leave Iran.

I was not alone.  Following widespread protests against the disputed June 12 election and the harsh government crackdown on public demonstrations, a number of  Iranians felt they had no choice but to leave the country. For them, staying in Iran held only the promise of incarceration, torture, and possibly even death at the hands of jailors, judges, or the security forces.  No one could predict what might to happen in prison if he were arrested. This significant wave of migration was primarily composed of young journalists and political activists who had been on the streets during the day and then informed the world each evening about their activities.

Read more.

Arash Bahmani is an Iranian journalist.

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