Parvin Ardalan in Interview with Rooz

They Are Afraid of our Exit

by: Asieh Amini

Wednesday 10 December 2008

Rooz Online, December 8, 2008:

Several women’s rights activists are barred from exiting the country. Why? What do ‎women seek or achieve in communicating with the outside world that entices the ‎government to prevent their exit? We discuss this matter with Parvin Ardalan. We read ‎the interview together. ‎

Rooz (R): In your opinion, what is the benefit for the government of barring women’s ‎rights activists from exiting the country?

Parvin Ardalan (PA): In my opinion, they are not concerned with our resistance, they are ‎concerned with the coverage. They are afraid of our communication with the world ‎outside Iran. They are willing to pay the price of media coverage but in the long run ‎create the terror among activist of traveling outside the country in order to suffocate any ‎kind of communication between social and civil society activities and the outside world. ‎

R: Do they directly say these things to you?‎

PA: They protest to us about why we advertise and campaign so loudly! But I think they ‎intentionally create controversy in order to institute fear so that no one is longer thinking ‎about why he or she is barred from exiting the country, but fearing what may happen if he ‎or she attempts to exit the country and what kind of repercussions may follow. This ‎problem afflicts not just women, but also student, labor, social and political activists. In ‎any case, the tactics used are the same old tactics. Perhaps if it wasn’t for public opinion ‎pressure they would kidnap us at the airport rather than barring our exit. ‎

R: Why are they afraid of activists traveling? What is supposed to take place during ‎such travels?‎

PA: Social movements are fundamentally built on communication and cooperation. ‎Today the media plays part of this role and as a result banning travel is not a very good ‎weapon. However, in the case of countries with a background of dictatorship and ‎undemocratic regimes, that fear of communication has always been present because it ‎undermines the control over the people. Like always, they resort to violence. Any kind ‎of communication can threaten this chauvinistic order. ‎

R: Will the government be able to prevent communication between Iranian activists and ‎the outside world?

PA: That is impossible, but the government can create terror. It can refuse to allow ‎undesirable people to enter or exit the country. Banning travel is not the only part of the ‎story. One the other hand, they create terror among activists. For example, Asha ‎Momeni says that she wants to take a different image of Iran to America, that she wants ‎to portray a different picture of Iranian activists to Americans, a positive image. But they ‎confront her too. ‎

If they increase their confrontation of civil society activists, the negative effects will be ‎much harsher. This is because social activists are looking for cooperative relations. In ‎reality governments want to maintain a monopoly over all kinds of communication with ‎the outside world. They do not want civil society activists or non-governmental ‎organizations to be involved. For example, even for issues related to Palestine, if a non-‎governmental organization wants to communicate with women’s groups abroad, it is ‎confronted by the government, unless it does so through channels that are recognized as ‎legitimate by the regime, such as the Basij. ‎


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