Fearless in the Face of Intimidation: Interview with Iranian Dissident Sara Akrami

by: Ryan Mauro
Sara Akrami is an Iranian-Canadian student activist, an opponent of the Islamic Republic of Iran and an activist for democratic regime change in Iran. She is a fourth year honors political science student at York University in Toronto, where she has shown our film, Iranium.

Akrami moved to Canada six years ago from Iran. She is now the president of the Human Rights Activists Association at York University and works to raise awareness about the violations of human rights in Iran. She is also an activist of the Canadian Centre for Victims of Torture and a writer for the Canadian student newspaper, The Prince Arthur Herald. She also writes for FrontPage Magazine (FrontPageMag.com) and different blogs in U.S.

The following is RadicalIslam.org national security analyst Ryan Mauro’s interview with Sara Akrami:

RadicalIslam.org: What has been the reaction on campus to your showing of our film “Iranium” and your activism against the Iranian regime?

Sara Akrami: In February 2011, the news media reported that the screening of the controversial documentary, Iranium, had been banned in Ottawa due to pressure from the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Embassy. Despite all the threats, the documentary was shown in two different places — Archives Canada in Ottawa and York University in Toronto.

Many citizens, including students, lined up to come and watch and formulate their own opinions. The most shocking aspect of the attempt to censor the film, however, was how it was possible that an embassy of a foreign government (Iran), which is isolated in the international arena and is hated by its citizens (within Iran and abroad), can exert its control over the Canadian government.

The fact that this documentary made the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Embassy and the supporters of the Iranian government in Canada concerned is a disclosure of the true face of this brutal government’s intent to procure nuclear weapons and support terrorism. The violations of the basic human rights of the Iranian people during 33 years of the regime’s existence, meanwhile, continue to be on full tragic display.

The documentary shows the inhumane treatment of the regime’s opponents by police forces and it contains interviews of various politicians and analysts. It also shows a montage of the Islamic Republic officials’ speeches, including that of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Holocaust-denying president, who boasts that, “We will not give up a single iota of our nuclear rights.” It is obvious that this regime refers to nuclear weapons as so-called “nuclear rights.”

These facts made the supporters of the Iranian regime on York University campus angry because, like their masters in Tehran, they want to deny the desires of the Iranian government for nuclear weapons and its crimes against humanity. Therefore, the only solution that they can think of is to threaten. Threatening the safety of the Iranian activists who oppose the Islamic Republic of Iran has continued for 33 years and it has taken the lives of many innocent people around the world.

In our case, we faced a lot of threats by the supporters of the Iranian government on campus and outside campus. For example, our vice-president, who is also a blogger and an opponent of the Iranian government, was approached by one of the Iranian regime supporters. The person verbally threatened our vice-president and he stole our vice-president’s cell phone. Our vice-president was also receiving Facebook and email threats.

I was also getting many Facebook messages, emails and especially threatening calls. There were so many that I had to report them to the police. When the officers of the Toronto Police Service came to my house and saw all of these threats, they advised me that my safety is in danger and, due to the fact that I’m a well-known, outspoken student activist against the government of Iran, I should not travel, go to work or university alone or walk on campus by myself, and I should make sure that no one is following me home. In addition, they advised me not to go to university for a few days after the screening of the documentary in order to prevent possible incidents.

RI: Why do you think your detractors support the Iranian regime? What is their argument and what do they say about its human rights abuses, sponsorship of terrorism and election-rigging? What do you think about the terrorism of the Iranian government?

Akrami: Well, those Iranians who support the Iranian regime fit into two categories. The first are Iranians who, by supporting the government, gain benefits. They are the mostly the family members and relatives of the Iranian regime officials, and they believe that those who are against the Iranian government are “infidels” and they deserve to be executed and killed. The second are those Iranians who are not aware of the situation in Iran and that is mostly because of the mass censorship that is i

I personally think that by raising awareness and educating the Iranian people of the second category, they will understand the true nature of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and they will turn into opponents. However, those Iranians who support the regime are in the minority, and that is a good point.

In terms of terrorism, the Islamic Republic of Iran is definitely a true supporter of terrorism. Assassination has been always one of the outreach tools of the ayatollahs and their regime in Iran since the early days of the Revolution.

When the Islamic Republic of Iran was established in 1979, it had two strategies to eliminate its opponents. At home, it killed its internal opponents using techniques many totalitarian regimes have employed, such as mass executions, tortures, disappearances and “accidents.” Abroad, it used its embassies and cultural offices to host killers and sent them out after prominent critics. Many of these critics living overseas were Iranian intellectuals and activists who had escaped from Iran after the establishment of the regime.

In addition to employing terror against its own citizens and émigrés, the Iranian government has also claimed victims from other nationalities. The Islamic Republic of Iran is one of the world’s most significant sponsors of terrorism.

During its 33 years of existence, it has continually instigated violence elsewhere and pursued indirect war through the use of terrorism throughout the Middle East, Africa, and both North and South America.

Among the Iranian casualties are Dr. Shahpour Bakhtiar (the last Prime Minister of the Shah of Iran), Dr. Abdol Rahman Ghassemlou (the Leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran), General Gholam Ali Oveisi (Tehran military governor), Fereydoun Farrokhzad (the famous Iranian showman, singer and poet) and many others.

One of the more notorious attacks by the agents of the Iranian government against its dissidents occurred in the Mykonos restaurant in Berlin, Germany in 1992 that resulted in the death of Sadegh Sharafkandi (the Secretary General of the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran) and his representatives and translator, Fattah Abdoli, Homayoun Ardalan, and Nouri Dehkordi.

One of the most significant examples of the terrorist activities of the Iranian government against non-Iranians was the truck bombing of the Argentine Israelite Mutual Association in Buenos Aires on July 18, 1994.

The Iranian government directed this terrorist activity through the terrorist group Hezbollah. This was one of the deadliest bombings to have ever occurred in Argentina, killing 85 people and injuring 300. A major motive behind this atrocity seems to have been the suspension of a nuclear technology transfer agreement between Iran and Argentina.

RI: What has happened to the Green Revolution in Iran? Why does it appear to have died out while the Arab Spring lives on?

Well, first of all, I do not call the events of the post-election that occurred in Iran two years ago a revolution because it did not result in downfall of the Islamic regime of Iran. It was just a movement. There were two types of Iranians who participated in this movement. The first were those Iranians who came on the streets to oppose the Islamic Republic of Iran as a whole and their slogans were “Down with Dictator” and “Down with Khamenei.” They made the election an excuse to come on the streets and express against the suffrage that they faced for many years under the Iranian government.

The second group of Iranians, who got most of the media’s attention, were the reformists who were only worried about their votes and supported Mousavi and Karoubi. I personally have strict boundaries with the Iranian reformists because they do not support democratic regime change in Iran and after 33 years of crimes and violation of the basic rights of the Iranian citizens and terrorism, they still assume that reforms can happen within the Islamic Republic of Iran.

But they do not understand that we cannot achieve democracy under a theocracy. The constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran is based on the Islamic Sharia law rather than modern laws. So how do they want to change the Islamic Sharia law when by a simple criticism of the barbaric rules of Islam, you are counted an infidel and sentenced to death?

In addition, the Iranian reformists have helped the Islamic Republic of Iran stay in power longer by participating in its elections and making the government look legitimate when it has many dissidents within and abroad Iran. For example, Khatami was a reformist President and with the support of the Iranian reformists, he stayed in power for 8 years, but he did not change anything.

Mousavi and Karoubi are the same way. They are part of the government and they believe in the existence of the Islamic regime of Iran rather than regime change. Also, when Mousavi and Karoubi had high ranking positions in the Islamic Republic of Iran, atrocities against humanity happened. One significant example is the massacre of the summer of 1988 when thousands of Iranian political prisoners were killed. At that time, Mousavi was Khomeini’s Prime Minister.

The Green Movement has definitely gotten weaker and weaker because (1) the Iranian reformists did not join those Iranians who demanded democratic regime change to end the existence of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and (2) at the time when the post-election events were happening, Obama was sending amicable messages to the dictator of the Iranian government, Khamenei.

RI: As an Iranian, what do you think of the West’s policy towards Iran? How can we encourage regime change?

Akrami: First, the West should support the Iranian opponents inside and outside Iran. Second, the West should put sanctions on the leaders of the Iranian government officials such as freezing the bank assets that they have around the world. Third, the embassies of the Iranian government as centers of terrorism should be closed. And finally, the representatives of the Iranian government, especially Ahmadinejad, should not be allowed to appear at the United Nations to speak.

Ryan Mauro is RadicalIslam.org\'s National Security analyst and a fellow with the Clarion Fund. He is the founder of WorldThreats.com and is frequently interviewed on Fox News.