INSIDE IRAN: Speaking up frankly for liberty and Iran's silent majority

Opposition leader, interviewed in Tehran, finds it wise to choose his words carefully in uncertain times

Dr Ibrahim Yazdi has not been harassed; "Not yet" as he put it carefully in his Tehran office last night. But since he had just signed - along with 85 intellectuals, businessmen and ex-ministers - a communique demanding greater political freedom, the legalisation of his own party and an end to police harassment, you could see why he chose his words with caution. In the circumstances, what he did say was remarkably frank.

Perhaps Dr Yazdi's revolutionary credentials give him some protection. He is a former member of the Revolutionary Council and Deputy Prime Minister, who served in the first Cabinet of Mehdi Bazargan, Ayatollah Khomeini's one-time special envoy to Iran's rebellious provinces, and an ex-member of the Iranian parliament. Dr Yazdi, white-bearded and bespectacled, looks more like a country doctor than the leader of the illegal opposition Freedom Party. Indeed, he is a pharmacologist, specialising in molecular genetics. But he clearly sees himself as the voice of the "silent majority" - a majority he believes should be demanding political liberty.

"Politically and economically, we are experiencing a very severe crisis in our country today and we feel that people must show concern and come forward and participate fully in the parliamentary elections next month," he says. "One part of our crisis is that no opposition party is allowed or tolerated in Iran. You cannot call this a one-party state, because there is no party."

Dr Tazdi has only been in prison once, after the 1953 military coup d'etat, but he seems unafraid of what the future might hold for him; maybe the government has too many other problems to worry about just now than arresting a 63-year-old pharmacologist.

"The two major aspects of the revolution were the basic rights and liberties of the people, and the political and economic independence of the country. Both have been the concern of freedom fighters in Iran since the 1908 Constitution. Political liberties was one of the major goals of our revolution - and it's unfortunate that this has not been fulfilled. The political liberties that we are demanding are only a vehicle. The moment the authorities accept the freedom of political parties which is provided for under Chapter 3 of our Constitution, the political atmosphere will be ready for a serious debate on the deeds of the government."

Dr Yazdi knows very well that even those who were prepared to die in Iran's bloodbath of a war with Iraq are now deeply discontented with the regime. "Many young people who fought at the front are observing widespread corruption among the government. They are very bitter."He added: ''From what the Revolutionary Guards are saying in their newspapers, I assume this is also their concern."

The government, Dr Yazdi says, is selling gold coins on the market. "Coining gold is exclusively the government's job so the government are the people creating the inflation ... where are all these dollars coming from that go into the black market? Many experts say that the great part of them come from the government in order to collect 'floating' money - riyals - that is in the hands of the people. This is one way to collect enough to pay their expenses."

Among the authorities there were "honest men dedicated to the revolution who are incompetent" and "corrupt parasites looking after themselves".

The Freedom Party has condemned the US for its policies towards Iran. "The Americans are hostile - and they have expedited and intensified their hostility towards our country", but he is curiously vague about the future of Iran, refusing to outline the programme his party would adopt if it is legalised and expressing only "optimism" "because I am a political activist". Perhaps it is the nebulous state of his party which produces such vagueness.

"They claim we are banned and we say we are legal. For two years we have been requesting the proper court to examine our case and have it rectified. The interior minister keeps saying the Freedom Party is not legal and we say to the minister that his statement is illegal because there is no law to limit our activities - and that therefore we are legal."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
News
The data shows that the number of “unlawfully” large infant classes has doubled in the last 12 months alone
i100Mike Stuchbery, a teacher in Great Yarmouth, said he received abuse
Arts and Entertainment
The starship in Star Wars: The Force Awakens
filmsThe first glimpse of JJ Abrams' new film has been released online
Sport
Rio Ferdinand returns for QPR
sportRio Ferdinand returns from his three-game suspension today
News
The Speaker of the House will takes his turn as guest editor of the Today programme
arts + ents
News
people

Watch the spoof Thanksgiving segment filmed for Live!
Sport
Billy Twelvetrees will start for England against Australia tomorrow with Owen Farrell dropping to the bench
rugbyEngland need a victory against Australia today
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of The Guest Cat – expect to see it everywhere
books
Sport
Tyson Fury poses outside the Imperial War Museum in south London ahead of his fight against Dereck Chisora
boxingAll British heavyweight clash gets underway on Saturday night
News
i100 Charity collates series of videos that show acts of kindness to animals
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Opilio Recruitment: QA Automation Engineer

£30k - 38k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: An award-winning consume...

Opilio Recruitment: UX & Design Specialist

£40k - 45k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: A fantastic opportunity ...

Opilio Recruitment: Publishing Application Support Analyst

£30k - 35k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: We’re currently re...

Opilio Recruitment: Digital Marketing Manager

£35k - 45k per year + benefits: Opilio Recruitment: A fantastic opportunity ...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game