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Freedom Collection

Interviews with Nima Rashedan

Interviewed January 5, 2011

I think there was a positive sentiment among [Iranian] protestors, especially toward [French President Nicolas] Sarkozy and Mr. [Bernard] Kouchner, at the time, Foreign Minister of France, which publicly defended Iran in public; they said, “We do not recognize this election as an accurate election. We do not recognize the [Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad government.” That was exactly what people wanted to hear from Obama.

And imagine the resources Mr. Obama has – the amount of influence Mr. Obama had at that time on the international community was far more than Sarkozy. So, it would have been a morale boost to the Iranian public – it would have changed the course of history if he just said, just a simple word, “We do not recognize this election.” But he wouldn’t come with that because he wanted to talk to Ahmadinejad.

When you’re planning to talk to someone, you have to recognize that he came out of the ballot. But unfortunately for Mr. Obama and the Iranian public they both had different opinions: one, we’re dying on the streets of Tehran; and one, they’re trying to have their negotiations with Mr. Ahmadinejad going on. And I don’t think this negotiation ever went anywhere. I don´t think negotiations brought anything; it just gave some sort of morale boost to Ahmadinejad, to torture, kill, arrest more people – people who were very hopeful in Mr. Obama’s election.

I think Great Britain played a very positive role. People were especially thankful because of the BBC Persian channel; that became one of the most popular news coverage of the protest in Iran – especially after [Ayatollah] Khamenei said, “Now, the U.K., England and Great Britain is even more dangerous foe than United States.” So, America was the greatest evil. They said, “No, now the U.K., with this Persian news channel, they are the biggest evil – more than Americans this time.” So, that makes people publicly support.

People were very critical about China and Russia, in particular, for the first time; I can’t remember an occasion in our history when somebody chanted, “Down with China,” in the streets of any country. But ten thousands of people, they were chanting, “Down with China and down with Russia,” in Tehran, answering the slogan of the government who asked them to say, “Down with United States, down with USA.” They would answer, “Down with China, down with Russia.”

So, I’m wondering how these simple but very, very individual citizens of Tehran, how they had this whole amount of information about the world, the structure of international relations, of the balance of power in the security council. They were just seeing Mr. Obama as somebody who basically, represented the United States of America, which they love. But they couldn’t understand where he was trying to go; but then the European Union invested as an ally. And Russia and China and then Venezuela and Belarus – the other governments who are assisting the government of Islamic Republic to suppress the protestors as enemies. I think there was a whole sort of the discourse of, let’s say, a Green Movement-international relations discourse going on within protestors.