A Tortured Iranian Refugee Reveals the Truth About Obama's Nuke Deal Partner
“Thank you so much for doing this. You are risking your life helping me with this report, for a prisoner you don’t even know.”
“It’s my duty.”
And that is when I went from being suspicious to being trusting. I was assisting a political prisoner with a life-threatening illness; I needed to show the importance of political intervention by raising the prisoner’s profile in the media, but I had no idea where to get him published. And then I remembered that Kaveh Taheri, a human rights journalist who regularly posted his reports on Movements.org (a social media platform that connects human rights assistance seekers and helpers, run by Advancing Human Rights) worked for a human rights group which regularly profiles political prisoners.
I was hesitant to ask for Kaveh’s assistance for a number of reasons. I had a very limited-to-nonexistent interaction with Kaveh prior to this situation, and asking him to risk his life -- with no compensation, for unclear reasons, and for complete strangers -- was kind of awkward.
Kaveh resides in Ankara, and as I found out shortly prior to this conversation, was himself a refugee from Iran. To my surprise, Kaveh agreed immediately and without hesitation. He produced an excellent medical report in record time, which ended up being republished in various media outlets and perhaps contributed to the eventual release of the prisoner.
That was my first introduction to Kaveh -- he came across as incredibly courageous and not afraid of exposing Erdogan’s evil regime, despite living in Turkey as a refugee with no protections whatsoever. I could not guarantee him anything, could not give him anything, and as I later learned, he had gone through hell himself.
He helped anyway.
Kaveh’s story drew my attention at first as a matter of gratitude for his timely and invaluable assistance, but also because I was impressed by his bravery and steadfast work. He exposes gross human rights violations in Iran and elsewhere, advocates for refugees in danger of being deported back to torture and certain death, and assists others in his situation in whatever ways he can.
Kaveh was born on February 23, 1982, in Shiraz. His family came from a leftist background. His grandfather was involved in the Tudeh Party; his father was a student activist in Al Ahwaz who was expelled for his activities. Kaveh followed the secularist tradition of his family and withdrew from the university Payame Noor, where he was studying law. He realized that he was only being taught Shari’a, nothing that would be applicable outside the confines of the Muslim world.
Kaveh had traveled to Dubai for work and had picked up several languages, including English, easily. He is an energetic, passionately outspoken mischief-maker who would not let the Iranian regime’s dogma stand in the way of exposing the truth to whomever could be reached.
While working in a shop and working on procuring press credentials, Kaveh started writing blogs critiquing various aspects of the regime’s reality: the educational system, the media, the vast human rights violations. Unlike the Reformists, Kaveh did not discriminate against the type of political dissident. He did not have an agenda beyond exposing the violations of rights common to everyone, regardless of background and creed.
He spent his free time with his family, making wine (illegally) as part of an annual Shiraz wine festival, and soon he acquired expertise in winemaking. He enjoyed spending time with his sister Laleh, whom he described as a strong, independent-minded woman. In 2011 she left to study IT in Malaysia; Kaveh continued with his work.
Despite the continuous crackdown on critics of the regime, Kaveh insisted on being forthright in his writings:
I was named after Kaveh the Blacksmith, a mythical figure in Iranian mythology who leads a popular uprising against a ruthless foreign ruler, Zahhak. The choice of this name, inspired by the events in this story, makes me want to rise up against any oppression and injustice, in all aspects of my life, personal and social.
Kaveh lived up to his name by leading a personal rebellion against a totalitarian system, comprising a mixture of fundamentalist Shi’a regime with elements of Soviet dictatorial influence. It tolerates no dissent, and uses fear-mongering, terror, and torture to keep the population silent and under control.
Eventually, Kaveh fell prey to the monster.