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Witness Statement: Ali Kantoori

7. Children’s rights was another issue. I, along with all members of Students for Freedom and Equality, believe in children’s rights. Society is responsible for children’s rights, not the family. The same is true about the rights of the elderly. These are not idealistic positions. Many political movements might be idealistic in nature, but women’s rights and the rights of the elderly are not idealistic aspirations. They are life’s necessities.

8. What Students for Freedom and Equality and I want are diametrically opposed to what the Islamic Republic wants. We did not want to get into a conflict with the Islamic Republic, because we were not after political power or seats in the parliament. But labor rights, abolition of the compulsory veil, equality of men and women, and ending interference by foreign governments in Iranian politics are real needs of Iranian society.

9. Intentionally or not, we questioned the Islamic Republic’s ideology. What were the IRI’s options if its agents wanted to stop our activities? They couldn’t say “Ali Kantoori was working towards equality of men and women.” They couldn’t say that I was fighting drug addiction in Qazvin. They couldn’t say that I was working towards abolition of the compulsory veil, or that I was voicing my concern about the terrible situation of the working class. If they did, more people would hear about me. The only way that they could stop me was to issue a court order based on baseless charges.

10. The Islamic Republic has been doing this for the past thirty years. No person who has been detained by the Ministry of Intelligence has been released without being charged with something unrelated to their activities. In the early years of the Revolution they charged people with illicit sexual relations, drinking alcohol or carrying arms. After a while, these accusations no longer worked, so they began leveling other charges, such as kidnapping and armed operations. I never served in the military and I have no idea how to use a weapon. How could I have been involved in armed operations?

11. The Islamic Republic levels these charges in order to be able to hand down stiff sentences. Human rights activists in Iran such as Saeed Habibi, Sepehr Atefi, Hesam Missaghi, Shiva Nazar Ahari and Navid Khanjani are simply working on human rights issues. But they link all of them to opposition groups with armed wings operating outside of Iran. Why do they do this? Just so they can hand down tough sentences.

12. The Islamic Republic is obsessed with conspiracy theories, and it makes false accusations based on them. The Islamic Republic always believes that any independent civil organization or movement must be linked to foreigners. This is not true at all. Students for Freedom and Equality clearly grew out of Iran’s social conflict. The actions of the student movement have shown this. They were neither linked to nor guided by anyone. They stood up for what they believed was good for society.

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Imprisonment, Torture, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment, Punishment, Personal Liberty, Arbitrary Detention, Illegal Search and Seizure, Witness Statements