A sizeable number of activists and protestors from the reformist camp in Iran have been arrested in the weeks following the presidential elections as part of the regime's campaign to quash the opposition. The story of one of these detainees, Issa Saharkhiz, demonstrates how this political schism is changing the way things are done in Iran.
Saharkhiz, a well-known journalist and supporter of defeated reformist candidate Mehdi Karoubi, was taken into custody by authorities last weekend. But while arrests of this sort are an everyday occurrence,
Saharkhiz's story takes a rare turn after his family decided it would not accept his fate lying down.
Shortly after it happened the arrest was already made public, as the journalist's son, Mehdi Saharkhiz, utilized social networks like Facebook and Twitter to report what had happened to his father. Saharkhiz was able to access the sites using his iPhone.
On Sunday the younger Saharkhiz stepped up the fight for his father, posting an open letter to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in his blog. Addressing the latter by his surname alone – "you are being addressed only by the name Ahmadinejad since it is impossible to add the title of a man to your name" - Saharkhiz delivers a sharply-worded personal attack against the president.
"I am writing this so that you can know my father, so that you will know who you threw in jail today," Saharkhiz writes, "I wish you had known my father, so you could learn about integrity and morality."
Evoking the memory of his uncle, who fell in the Iran-Iraq war, and his own father's service in the Islamic Republic's name, Saharkhiz warns Ahmadinejad that history will judge him "as it judged all our ancestors, it will judge my father and (it will judge) you too."
Fortunately, Saharkhiz writes, the regime's "censors and oppressors cannot hide the truth, and you will be remembered as the one who deceived the people to keep his (office)."
Saharkhiz calls his father a revolutionary, saying he put down his weapon after the war "and picked up the pen, to bring the teachings of the revolution to others.
"My father defends Islam while you defend your position. He lived his life trying to protect the Republic, he wanted the world to know that in Iran the voice of the people is sacred – so sacred and valuable that it is worth dying for."
'Halo of lies'
Saharkhiz also tauntingly refers to the 'halo' Ahmadinejad told Ayatollah Javadi Amoli he felt had been emanating from him during his address to the United Nations in 2005. Ahmadinejad told Amoli that he had felt "a light" envelope him as he gave his speech, mesmerizing the audience of world leaders and causing them to listen in rapt attention "without blinking."
At the time Ahmadinejad said a member of the Iranian delegation to the UN told him he had also seen the light surrounding him.
Saharkhiz writes that he too now sees the light, "but this is not a halo of light, it is a halo of lies, hypocrisy, injustice and fraud."
Saharkhiz detailed the chain of events leading up to his father's arrest in an interview with ABC's Lara
Issa Saharkhiz is an Iranian journalist and a member of an organization for the protection of press freedoms. He began his work at the state-owned IRNA news agency, and was appointed head of the media department at the Iranian Ministry of Culture during the presidency of Mohammad Khatami. His work has won him continuous accolades and his term at the ministry was even dubbed 'the Spring of Journalism.'