NPR’s Mary Louise Kelly speaks with Iran’s Overseas Minister, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, in Tehran.
MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:
We have now a uncommon alternative as we speak to place inquiries to certainly one of Iran’s most senior officers. We have simply walked as much as the gates of the overseas ministry, this large, yellow compound – yellow brick compound in central Tehran. We have now had so many questions on the bottom right here in Iran in regards to the anti-government protests which have rocked this nation. Tons of of individuals have been killed. We even have questions on Iran’s relations with the remainder of the world. And as we speak, Iran’s high diplomat – that’s the overseas minister, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, has agreed to take our questions.
As soon as inside, we climbed from one ready space to the subsequent and eventually settled inside a cavernous assembly room, an enormous map of Iran and the area above us. What you’re about to listen to is Amir-Abdollahian talking via an interpreter. We have now edited for concision and readability. We have now not internally edited his solutions.
I will begin with the information. Supreme Chief Ayatollah Khamenei has introduced he’s pardoning tens of hundreds of individuals arrested within the anti-government protests. Why, and why now?
HOSSEIN AMIR-ABDOLLAHIAN: (By way of interpreter) Within the identify of God, probably the most compassionate, probably the most merciful, at this very outset, enable me to level out that while you say tens of hundreds have been detained, nicely, this isn’t precisely correct, and this I say categorically. To start with, no pupil in any respect was detained on the universities or premises of the schools throughout the riots. Actually, those that have been detained have been individuals who performed a job within the riots on the streets. That being stated, lots of have been carried away. And on that foundation, they acted in riots. On the event of the victory of the Islamic Revolution, these folks – lots of of people that have been detained – have been pardoned. The supreme chief of the Islamic Revolution pays particular consideration to the difficulty of clemency and mercy. And, due to this fact, the decree is to launch all these detainees, save for individuals who have dedicated homicide or different critical crimes.
KELLY: The quantity that I cited, tens of hundreds of individuals being pardoned, is the one which was cited by Iranian state media. And the variety of hundreds of protesters being detained is just not mine. That’s coming from human rights teams and from the United Nations, which is estimating that hundreds of individuals right here have been detained since September. Tons of of individuals have been killed and 4 folks executed.
AMIR-ABDOLLAHAIN: (By way of interpreter) I suppose we see some kind of overstatement in these figures, even when it has been stated by human rights teams. The variety of these killed throughout the riots have additionally been performed up. You see one thing necessary performed out throughout the riots. Regardless of excessive stress throughout the riots, the police weren’t allowed to hold firearms. Nonetheless, American and Israeli armament got here via from a few of our neighboring international locations with little stability. Now, what they did was to wreak havoc amongst the mobs and lots more and plenty and, the truth is, resorted to the armament in query.
KELLY: I need to observe up on what you are saying about weapons and the world that the U.S. – you’re alleging – performed. However I – it strikes me that we’re citing totally different numbers of what occurred – of what number of have been killed. And it strikes me that a part of the problem could also be that journalists haven’t been in a position to freely cowl these protests. The Committee to Defend Journalists says 93 journalists have been detained in Iran. That’s as of January. One other journalist, Elnaz Mohammadi, was arrested on Sunday. Why are journalists right here in Iran being prevented from doing their jobs?
AMIR-ABDOLLAHAIN: (By way of interpreter) We can’t verify the detention of journalists in Iran. It’s totally simple to relabel the one that has been detained. You might, at any second, name that individual in query a defendant of human rights, a journalist, amongst others.
KELLY: Ninety-three and counting? That is so much.
AMIR-ABDOLLAHAIN: (By way of interpreter) No journalist was detained throughout riots. You see, simply two weeks in the past, one thing occurred in Iran. A scammer was to flee Iran. What he did, with a view to assist his escape, was to submit movies on social media saying that – claiming that he was a protester, that he was subjected to torture. However the truth is, he was a scammer and a fraudulent individual. And on the finish of the day, it turned out that he was threatened. He was arrested by the police. You see, the West has fastidiously and meticulously focused the riots. Enable me to ask this query to you. You see, there was a variety of maneuver on Mahsa Amini by Western media. However on the subject of Shireen Abu Akleh, did they actually cowl her?
KELLY: Forgive me. Forgive me, however…
AMIR-ABDOLLAHAIN: (Non-English language spoken).
AMIR-ABDOLLAHAIN: (By way of interpreter) She was…
KELLY: …If I could, I’ll ask the questions.
AMIR-ABDOLLAHAIN: (By way of interpreter) …Killed by these rioting police.
KELLY: I’ll ask the questions.
AMIR-ABDOLLAHAIN: (By way of interpreter) It’s not…
KELLY: And I’ll simply – to finish the questioning about journalists, I’ll say journalists who’ve been detained and now launched on bond are confirming that they’re journalists and so they have been detained in these protests. However let me – you talked about the function that you just consider the U.S. has performed. In our time in Iran, we’ve interviewed many individuals now and requested them why they’re indignant. They cite repression. They cite inequality. They cite financial mismanagement. We requested one younger man – who do you blame in your issues? He stated, the regime – your authorities – not the US. To the younger man who blames the regime for his issues, you say what?
AMIR-ABDOLLAHAIN: (By way of interpreter) To start with, it is not a regime in Iran. We have now a sovereign, respectable and authorized authorities. And due to this fact, I wish to urge that you just additionally use the right phrases.
KELLY: I used to be quoting somebody instantly who was talking to me.
AMIR-ABDOLLAHAIN: (By way of interpreter) However the folks in Iran do not converse like that. Anyway, we admit that there are issues in Iran, similar to elsewhere on this planet. Again in September, after I was New York, I occurred to have the chance to roam about a little bit bit in New York and see the underground stations previous midnight. I, the truth is, talked to a number of the residents. And the responses I obtained from American nationals have been worse than the response that you just obtained from that Iranian man. And due to this fact, it just about depends upon which inhabitants pattern you select in your info. This constitutes an necessary a part of democracy in Iran. Individuals can freely voice their concepts.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
KELLY: Half certainly one of our dialog right here in Tehran with Hossein Amir-Abdollahian – he’s the overseas minister of Iran. Tomorrow, we push him on whether or not folks in Iran can freely voice their concepts.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
KELLY: Individuals instructed us this repeatedly – once we requested to interview them, they pointed up and pointed at cameras. They’re watching. They’re watching. They’re watching.
AMIR-ABDOLLAHAIN: (By way of interpreter) Then you would interview them on a blind spot.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
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