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."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
The veteran poverty campaigner Sir Bob Geldof issues a stark challenge to emerging economies at the Melbourne HIV/Aids conference
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch and John Malkovich talk Penguins of Madagascar at Comic-Con
comic-con 2014Cumberbatch fans banned from asking about Sherlock at Comic-Con
Arts and Entertainment
Chris Pratt stars in Guardians of the Galaxy
filmGuardians Of The Galaxy should have taken itself a bit more seriously, writes Geoffrey Macnab
Sir Chris Hoy won six Olympic golds - in which four events?
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
Lars Ulrich of Metallica performs on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury 2014
Arts and Entertainment
Life and Style
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
Arts and Entertainment
Up my street: The residents of the elegant Moray Place in Edinburgh's Georgian New Town
tvBBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Associate Recruitment Consultant - IT

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000: SThree: Computer Futures has been est...

IT Technician (1st/2nd line support) - Leatherhead, Surrey

£23000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Technician (1st/2nd line support)...

Business Analyst

£300 - £350 per day: Orgtel: Job Title: Business Analyst Rate: £300 - £350 per...

C# .NET Developer

£290 - £291 per day + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Manchester C#.NET ...

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform