Between January and June 2011, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran (“the Campaign”) interviewed 35 members of Iranian civil society. This time period was approximately two years into a wave of civil and political repression that followed the disputed 2009 presidential election.
The Campaign chose these interviewees on the basis of several criteria.
All interviewees currently live in Iran and were in Iran when interviewed. At the time of this writing, some are in prison but spoke to the Campaign prior to their incarceration.
The Campaign looked for people with a track record of intellectual independence and valuable insights into Iranian society and, for some, Iranian politics. They are people outside the ruling establishment. Several interviewees have clear activist credentials and have been publicly critical of the Iranian government’s polices and practices. Some others are simply known for their social commentary or contributions to their respective fields and are not affiliated with any political or activist currents in Iran. These social commentators agreed to speak on the prospect of a military conflict with the United States because of what they believe are the grave potential ramifications for Iranian society at large.
Those interviewed are from a diverse set of professional backgrounds including human rights defenders, lawyers, journalists, student activists, writers, academics, cultural leaders and members of the political opposition. They also represent several generations, ranging in age from 25 to 84.
The Campaign chose people who were highly accomplished in their respective fields. Many are household names and a number are among the most extolled figures in Iranian society, past or present. Thus, not only do these interviewees possess the capacity to understand Iranian affairs, but they also significantly influence public opinion.
The full names and biographies of the interviewees are found in Part II of the report, “In Their Own Words,” starting on page 21.
Some interviewees asked not to be identified by name due to security concerns and have been given pseudonyms comprised of a first name and last initial (e.g. Hamid R.).
The Campaign also interviewed dozens of other individuals inside Iran who for various reasons did not wish to be included or quoted in the report. Their testimonies, however, were largely consistent with what is presented below.