In one of our interviews about the Iranian revolution, Sadaf* tells us about her perspective on the events in her homeland and her hopes for a free and democratic Iran.
Who are you and what’s your connection to Iran?
I am an Iranian woman. It has been four years since I left my country to pursue a PhD in natural science in Germany. In order to ensure the safety of my family in Iran, I cannot introduce myself in more detail, unfortunately.
How would you describe the current state of the revolution in Iran?
Iran is completely different from what it was 5 months ago. Everyone there now has an awareness of the current situation that nobody can take away from them. That is why there is no going back. The legitimacy of the regime is totally shattered. Whether artists, scientists or athletes, they all speak out clearly against the regime, because they all know that they are not alone in their opinion.The students have been a guiding light for this revolution, and the regime could not tolerate them. These brave schoolgirls are now being poisoned with chemical compounds. Thousands of students have been affected so far and two deaths have been reported. The current situation in Iran is one of the most brutal acts of terror against humanity in the history of mankind, and the entire world is just watching this unfolding tragedy.
That shows how this regime ruled Iran for a long time - through fear and intimidation. But people are now standing together in solidarity and are no longer afraid. Many are beginning to prepare for the moment when the regime collapses. They are no longer just fighting in the streets, but there are many discussions taking place with the help of the opposition and activists abroad to develop plans for the transition period that will work for everyone. Iranians are aware that they must slow down and think about the transition period in spite of all the pain and economic problems. Because no one wants another dictatorship. This is what I see: the most progressive revolution in history is on the verge of winning.
"This is what I see: the most progressive revolution in history is on the verge of winning."
How do you perceive Germany's perspective on what is happening in Iran, both in the media and in your social circles?
The German media is reporting on the situation in Iran and seems to support the revolution. However, I believe that this is not the case. During all the horrific events of the last months, Iranians abroad worked hard to draw attention to these events, for example on social media. Only then was the media forced to report on it. However, the false report spread by the Iranian regime about the abolition of the morality police was broadcast by the media in Germany and was not checked against independent reports from Iran. I found this very questionable. Furthermore, little is reported about the demand to put the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) on the EU's list of terrorist organisations. Due to the lack of information about this important demand in the German media, only very few Germans support the demands.
This problem is evident in my social circle as well. Most people don’t ask us how they can help us, perhaps because they do not feel our pain. My belief is that the media could play a big role in this regard and help people feel closer to us. I think that if people in this country were better informed, they would also realise that they have the power to exert pressure on their government to support the Iranian people in a real and lasting way, not just in words.
What can we do in Germany or Thuringia to support the revolution? What would you like to happen?
Do not treat the regime in Iran as a legitimate government of the Iranian people. They are effectively an occupying force that have taken the Iranian people hostage. The embassy here is not the embassy of the Iranian people. Most of the companies trading from Iran are effectively owned by the regime and revolutionary guard associates, and the profits they make go toward oppressing and suppressing the Iranian people. Therefore, we have clear demands for the federal government. All those who live here can help us by either sending emails or letters to their MPs or by joining the demonstrations and rallies of the Iranian community in Germany.
These are our demands: 1. Stop negotiations with the Islamic Republic and withdraw their ambassadors! 2. Increase pressure on the Islamic Republic to stop all executions and release all political prisoners! 3. Expel all oligarchs of the Islamic Republic from the country, as many members of the regime live and work in Germany have assets and influence. We demand the same measures that have been taken against Russian oligarchs in many countries! 4. Classify the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organisation!
"We have clear demands for the German government"
Are you in contact with people who are currently fighting for women's rights and freedom in Iran?
Of course. I keep in touch with them and try to help them in any way I can. As a precaution, I cannot provide any further information. But I would also like to note that I am proud of the men of the revolution. The Islamic regime gives men the power to decide on all aspects of their wives' and daughters' lives, and yet many sacrifice their lives for women's rights and freedom. I see this as a model for all feminist movements, which can only succeed if they unite people of all genders behind them.
How does the revolution in Iran affect your everyday life?
Before the revolution, I was a student who left her country to pursue her dreams, disappointed with any changes in her homeland. Through the revolution, I suddenly realised that I was not alone regarding my feelings, that many of us feel this way and that together we can regain our dignity and freedom for Iran. A lot has changed, now I spend all my free time supporting the revolution and that gives me strength. I am under severe pressure and stress just like any other Iranian abroad. If a family member or friend is shot or arrested, you can't sleep. I am often overwhelmed by the sheer viciousness of the regime's crimes. Every time I hear or read about an execution, a murder, a rape or the killing of a child, it is incredibly difficult to carry on with everyday things. There are times when I wish I were in Iran to be able to fight and express my anger on the streets, then the world inside and outside me would be the same. Although we are experiencing sadness, anger, suffering and hope at the same time, we have to stay strong and keep going to see the end of the Mullah regime.
"I hope for a free and democratic Iran, governed by its own people."
What do you hope for the future of Iran and all Iranians living in Iran or abroad?
I hope for peace and freedom for everybody in the world. I hope for a free and democratic Iran, governed by its own people. By those who believe in democracy and human rights. I want the Middle East to contribute to the free world in the future with its rich history and culture. I hope to one day see a united world of equal human rights, without demeaning categorisations such as first, second and third world.
Is there anything else that you’d like to add?
I would like to emphasise that Iran is an important nation for the world, not only because of its geopolitical location and its vast natural resources, not only because of its history and its diverse ethnic groups with different languages, dishes, clothing, arts, traditions and religions, but also because of its culture and its people. Iran has scientists, philosophers, thinkers, doctors, astronomers, explorers and inventors. The only thing Iran does not have is freedom. With freedom, Iran could be a great force for good to help and develop the world around it. Iran is a unique country with a long and civilised history during which it has neither been colonised nor has it colonised other countries. A free and democratic Iran will no longer destabilise its surroundings, but would be a pillar of support and hope for a peaceful Middle East. The women in Iran have not only inspired Iranian men, but they are also an encouragement to women and men in other countries, such as Afghanistan. Their struggle for freedom can have a positive domino effect on the rest of the world.
*The full name is known to the interviewers.
Sadaf was interviewed by Marius Dörner and Isabella Gee in January 2023 for Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung Thüringen