There is fire under the ashes,” says student activist Payam Olad Azimi about the situation at Iran’s universities where, he believes, the increased state repression of the last two years has not managed to silence dissenting voices.
22-year-old Olad Azimi (pictured below) is one of those voices who has been pressured so much by the Iranian authorities, he has been forced into exile. He talked to Persian Letters on February 19 — the same day a video of him publicly criticizing the Iranian establishment was posted on YouTube. He said he made the video available right after fleeing the country.
The amateur video, which was recorded by a cellphone, has already been widely shared on social media. It is from an October event at Iran’s Orumieh University that was attended by an official from the Interior Ministry.
In the video, Azimi publicly confronts the ministry official, who he identifies as Mahmud Abbaszadeh Meshkini, the ministry’s political director. Azimi asks several challenging questions, including why former Prime Minister Mir Hossein Musavi and former parliament speaker Mehdi Karrubi have both become critics of the establishment and leaders of the opposition movement. Both men have been under house arrest for the past year.