This email came to me via Haleh Anvari – I decided to translate the interview:
Wednesday June 24th - A Chat with one of the Plain-clothed club-wielders
“We get 200 dollars a day”
Four days after the elections, there have been anti-demonstration forces on the streets of Tehran whose accents are unrecognizable. Witnesses say they are not able to understand what they are saying. Some say they have openly heard Arabic being spoken by some. Yesterday, I had a chance to chat with one of the plain-clothed men in a sandwich shop.
Me: Salaam brother. How are you?
Him: God Bless you, fine, thank you.
Me: Where are you from?
Him: Iran close to the border of Afghanistan) (a small town in the Eastern region of
Me: How old are you?
Me: Do you have a wife and kids?
Him: No. Wife and kids costs money. I am unemployed.
Me: Unemployed? Aren’t you a Basiji? Doesn’t the army give you a fixed salary?
Him: No. I am not a Basiji. I am unemployed.
Me: But you are working now, aren’t you?
Me: Why do you have that club?
Him: They brought us here to hit the anti-revolutionaries. That’s why they gave us this club.
Me: Who gave it to you?
Him: Haji. He told me to hit in such a way that they don’t get up anymore. They’re traitors!
Me: What do you think about that?
Him: I don’t get involved in these things. I just get my money.
Me: You get money for beating people up. That’s great.
Him: Yeah. They gave me money just to beat people up! Wouldn’t you do the same?
Me: How much do they pay you?
Him: 200 dollars (200,000 tomans) per day. (he smiles)
Me: That’s a lot of money. What’re you gonna do with all that money?
Him: Get a wife. Or even two, if I can have this kind of money. Do you know how much that is? 2000 dollars. Maybe I won’t even go back to Torbat. Maybe I’ll stay here. Haji says there will be more demonstrations. They will give us more work.
Me: How many days have you been in Tehran?
Him: 3 days. There are still 7 more days left.
Me: Where are all the other people from who are with you?
Him: I don’t know all of them. But in our dormiatory we have people from Mazandaran, Arak, Khoozestan. Also from Torbat-e Hedariye and Khvaf. (he takes a sip from his soda. He asks me for a cigarette. I give it to him. He lights it and he smokes and talks.
Me: There are Arabs among them, no?
Him: Yeah. But I heard they put them in a hotel. They say they are from . Last night they gave us Tuna for dinner. The guys said the Arabs get better food.
Me: Where is your dorm?
Him: I don’t know. I don’t know my way around Tehran. But it’s far. You have to go this way to get there (he points east).
Me: Have you been to Tehran before?
Him: No. This is my first time.
Me: You pray?
Him: Yeah, sure. But here, when we are on duty, we’re not even allowed to go to the bathroom.
Me: Don’t you get upset when you beat people?
Him: People? Haji says those who are in the demonstrations are traitors. I believe him. He’s a haji. You know Haji would not lie. (a big, burly guy walks in. He looks around angrily. He spots this guy)
Big Guy: What are you doing here? Who’re you talking to?
Him: Nothing. I came to drink a Canada (Dry).
Big Guy: Go to your post. Yallah!
He takes his club and leaves. He’s had a cold soda and is ready. I wonder if there’ll be more work for him after the 7 days.
Friday, June 26, 2009
Iran: They brought us here to hit the anti-revolutionaries. That’s why they gave us this club - They pay us $200 a day