Read through archived FRONTLINE/World
conversations around this story below.
Anonymous - Toronto, Canada
I commend Ms. Kokan on
her BRILLIANT account and concise reporting. However, there
was too deep an editing of the actual report! The degree
of brutality and violation of basic human rights in Iran
is so bad, that scenes such as stoning a woman to death,
the tortured students, etc. were not shown! Simply said
[more than] 85% of Iranians simply despise this regime and
desire separation of religion & politics. The clergy
and related mafia only understand one technique - very simple
- mafia rule and mafia-like encounter. World help with U.S.
leadership is appreciated for holding a free referendum
Allen K. - Dallas, Texas
I am an Iranian, and all Iranians that I know of do
not want this regime, and [an] overwhelming majority believe
in separation of church and state. Before, I thought it
is possible that I am only meeting like minded people and
there may actually be a popular support for the current
regime in Iran; However, [with] the overwhelming victory
of president Khatami, who represented an opposition hard
line religious establishment, I realized [that] over 80%
(over 80% voted [for] Khatami, which in my view was voting
for change) of people in Iran are against this regime, and
are ready for change.
Michael Lobban - Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
What a tremendous achievement!
A frequent visitor to the web site of the SMCCDI, I join
hundreds of thousands of other young Americans who have
been following the story of Zahra Kazemi, as explored by
this and other news organizations. "Forbidden Iran"
was about so much more than the outrage of Kazemi's murder,
it was a remarkably mature and deft presentation that provided
insight into events that are now making history. There are
so many arguments as to whether Kazemi's story has gained
too much attention, arguments that this individual is attracting
the wrong kind of international sympathy, it seems to me,
however, a proper introduction for anyone who isn't aware
of the situation in Iran. There has been enough material
documented in the immediate past to provide a more thorough
investigation, yes, but these students, these people are
fighting and suffering in such a way that requires a particular
kind of documentation. Jane Kokan is that kind of journalist.
As stories and news erupt daily, we are all so urgent to
understand, and act, but understanding is the key, and "Forbidden
Iran" is a good and decent place to start.
Cyrus Safdari - New York, New York
The Frontline story on Iran was very poorly done and
pursued a particular political agenda to deny reformists
and push the "another revolution" theory. The
SMCCDI goup you've listed as a "prominent student group"
has no relationship to the genuine student group in Iran
whatsoever, and it was laughable for Ms Kokan to interview
a self-described "Iranian intelligence agent"
in Amsterdam without any effort at establishing his credentials
as such. Note also that no other Iranian dissident group
- not even Shirin Ebadi - has claimed that students are
being "disappeared" as you claim.
Kaveh Afrasiabi - Palo Alto, California
I have a rather mixed reaction to the program. On the
one hand, I was happy to see a decent coverage of the students'
continuing struggle for democracy in Iran and the vicious
brutality visited on them. Certainly, the producers should
be lauded for their effort. On the other hand, as a political
scientist I take exception to many superficial soundbites
hurled at the reviewers throughout the program. For one
thing, Iran today is not a "police state," if
it were neither the dissidents would dare to give interviews
in park and in a cab unafraid of covering their identities,
nor the reporter would be able to "dodge her minder"
as she repeatedly puts it. The "minder" turns
out to be a tour guide and the reporter's ability to travel
freely any where she wanted actually contradicts her labels
thrown at Iran, a semi-democracy where unlike its neighbors
has had regular elections and a thriving press more diversified
than one sees in the U.S. capital (!) or New York, notwithstanding
the dozen or so Tehran dailies representing various ideological
creeds. It appears that talking about contemporary Iran's
positive sides is forbidden in the U.S. press.
On another note, there were a few
objectionable aspects to the program. At one point, we hear
that the mother of a dissident has secretly taped her son's
heroic comments in their kitchen, when the movement of the
camera clearly shows that some one is behind the camera
and that most likely the young man knew he was being taped.
Second, the reporter's comment, about the attack on the
dorms, that "as of this day no one knows how many people
were killed" in the attack, is questionable: we do
know, by student organizations themselves, that no one died
in that attack, even though scores were seriously wounded
by the vicious assault. Overall, this was a cross between
anti-Iran propaganda and half-decent coverage of a young
population struggling for democracy.
Ali - Vancouver, Canada
The program was great demonstration of [Iran's] Islamic
government to the world. As a student who came to Canada
a year ago, [I] could entirely connect to the whole situation
and the program. Well done Miss Kokan. We, all free-spirited
Iranians, hope that the world sees more pictures from the
cage that the government [has] made for [the] Iranian people
until we [can] have a democratic government governing the
Alireza - Boston, Massachusetts
I am a thirteen year-old student in [Massachusetts].
I was very impressed with the main point of this presentation.
Iran is a country locked in jail. But a jail like no other.
This jail can only be opened from the inside. And I believe
with the potential of the Iranian student's this is possible.
In this presentation a clear message was sent to the audience,
and this was the capability and admiration of the Iranian
students. Day by day, Iran moves closer and closer to success.
And the torture and murder of innocent Iranians fighting
for freedom is just another sign of the brutality and inhumanity
of the so called Islamic Regime. From my resent visit to
the capital just months ago it was very clear the effects
this regime has had on the people. The support for the regime
is slowly fading and a new era of students has emerged and
will hopefully stop this regime for destroying a culture
To hundreds of millions of young
and old Iranians, your fight for freedom is greatly appreciated
and one day our day will come, and the fight for freedom
, a non-religious state and human rights will be won.
Danial Parsa - Washington, DC
Thank you PBS. The oppression of these corrupt Mullahs
has been going on for more than 20 years now. It has killed
so much of young Iranians' talents. They have ruined at
least one generation. Please have more coverage of young
Iranians' demonstrations which are simply asking for basic
human rights and [a] REFERENDUM!!!
Majid Afkhami - Portland, Oregon
Please re-broadcast your
program. I missed it. I am glad to see courageous reporters
reflecting the suffering of my people in your program. The
Mullahs [have] committed more crime than Saddam and Bin
laden combined. I have lost my brother to this regime.
For those who missed the broadcast, FRONTLINE/World
"Forbidden Iran" can be viewed in its entirety in streaming
video on the Web
Kayhan Najmabadi - Ann Arbor, Michigan
Bravo to Ms. Kokan for her courageous work and many
thanks to PBS for broadcasting it.
Mehran - Vancouver, Canada
U.S. Secretary of State
Madeleine Albright acknowledged, for the first time, Washington’s
involvement in the murky coup that ousted Iranian Prime
Minister Mohammad Mossadegh in 1953, changing the balance
of forces in the Middle East. Now they are experiencing
the result of their actions in all over Middle East. A region
without democracy. All we “Iranians” are asking
is the west (especially Americans) leaving it to the people
of Iran to bring democracy to their country. We are not
interested in another American puppet or Ayatollah Kashani
and we are capable of gaining democracy and drive the Mullahs
Sanaz - Montreal, Canada
I thought that the documentary was a real eye opener.
Most Iranians know about these horrifying events that happen
to our beloved students and people, but it was good to see
that PBS showed the rest of the world what atrocities are
happening in Iran and the struggle that the people are going
through. We do not want he West to save us, we just want
them to stop supporting the current regime, the people can
take care of the rest. I congratulate Jane Kokan for her
search of the truth and commend her for her bravery.
Aryan - New York, New York
As a woman of Iranian heritage I am grateful to you for
Unfortunately, for the last twenty-four
years the world has been deaf and mute in regard to this
tyrannical so-called Islamic regime that has hijacked an
ancient civilization. It is about time that the truth about
this gang of corrupt and barbaric mullahs is told.
The powers that be and all those
who advocate "dialogue" or "engagement" with this barbaric
regime should see this film.
With my gratitude, and on behalf
of million voiceless Iranians, you have my deepest appreciation
for your presentation.
I thought the documentary was very poor. I don't feel like
I gained anything useful from it. So they talked to a few
people, so what. You can go into any country and find people
with the same views about their governments. I don't think
the creator knows much about the history of Iran. I would
suggest that she read upon the Mossadegh situation and the
role the American and British media played in overthrowing
him. a good book is "All the Shah's Men". And I would also
refer you to the interview that was broadcast last night
on PBS with Richard Perle, where he said that the US is
spending a lot of money on radio broadcasts and other forms
of media to help overthrow the current regime. if you were
the Iranian gov't what would you do? Basically I thought
the documentary wasn't well though out and was running on
the fuel caused by the Zahra Kazemi outrage.
Nassim Bozorgmehr - Berkeley,
There [is] oppression and lack of freedom going everywhere,
even in the United States. If there is that much disdain
that you are talking about there would have been a revolution
long time age. During the Shah's regime, which was backed
by the US. There [was] a lot more oppression, torture, persecution
and execution but people came to street and revolution happened.
It has been 25 years that many western countries are doing
all they can to stir up an uprising in Iran, but it is not
happening. That is because the level of opposition is very
much exaggerated by western media and some US backed Farsi
broadcasting services in the US. Iran is moving toward the
path of democracy and does not need anyone to intervene.
The true democracy is when everyone's voice is heard, hardliners,
reformists and secularists. Democracy is not when something
to the interest of West happens in Iran.
Tom Puchniak - Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Frankly I was disappointed. The film seemed to be as much
about the journalist's journey as about the suppression
of free speech in Iran. There were more shots of the journalist
than of the country of its people. I don't deny the courage
of someone going into this dangerous environment, but I
regret she didn't come out with a more substantive report.
Kevin Shook - Dallas, Texas
The program was excellent. My complaint is that it was only
20 minutes long. The Western press should be ashamed of
itself. The stories of the students in Iran should be frontpage
news. The pictures of the tortured students should be on
the front page of all the major papers and magazines. The
European governments should be ashamed of their economic
ties to the Regime in Iran. The U.S. should put pressure
on the Europeans to stop their support of the Iranian Regime.
Since 1979, the Iranian government has received over $500
billions in oil revenues. Who did that help? Certainly not
the Iranian people. Just ask the 30,000+ who died in the
Bam earthquake last month.
Phil Dragoo - Santa Fe, New Mexico
Your program Forbidden Iran was very compelling. Clearly
the regime of Khamenei is a fascist abomination. The students--70%
of Iranians are 30 or under--want democracy and freedom,
but are beaten with clubs, hacked with machetes, imprisoned,
tortured, and killed.
Free peoples everywhere should work for regime change
in Tehran, removal of the mullahs, and immediate referenda
for the new government.
Thank you for airing this important--and dangerous--report.
Arya Bakhtiar - Tehran, Iran
We the people of Iran, more than 80 percent of us do not
want any type of Islamic Republic.
In the show our students told the
world that we don't want any part of the Islamic Republic,
reformed, or Islamic Democracy.
We want a secular democracy, and
I'm angry at someone on here trying to call our students
a 'liar' on the video for stating we want a secular government
ALL MULLAHS MUST GO!!!
Reformist or Hard-line
LONG LIVE DEMOCRATIC SECULAR IRAN!
Alireza - Boston, Massachusetts
I'm an Iranian student in U.S. and to me the show was very
weak. I had seen some shows on PBS about Iran [which] were
really powerful but this one really surprised me. The show
seemed to be more about the bravery of reporter than trying
to make the case. At the beginning she [talked] about military
control everywhere in Iran and all the people and contacts
were under control and in another scene she was talking
on the phone with a political prisoner who was in prison
at the time asking about the number of prisoners!!! Anyway,
anybody who reads some newspapers in Iran can get much more
information than the so called "Behind the scene" show.
I expect [from]PBS more than that.
Dr. A. Afzali - Los Angeles,
Thank you PBS. This country needs desperately more programs
like this one. We need to open the eyes of the American
People about what is going on in Iran.
This was an EXCELLENT PROGRAM. Having
said that, please see if you can give us different perspectives.
This is a very intricate issue and it needs more in depth
investigation and further broadcasting. Show us please what
the different social classes think about the issue. There
is a tendency on television to only show the point of view
of the lowest social classes.
THANK YOU PBS, YOU ARE AWESOME!!!
Soosan Kirbawy - Tacoma, Washington
I am very upset to see that such repression has continued
in Iran. I had the mistaken notion that the Iranian government
was softening, and wanted to reach out and begin dialogue
with the world community.
As a U.S. citizen born in Iran, however, I think that
the Bush administration is the absolute last party to be
looked at for help. With them, the word "Help" is entirely
Our country overthrew their democratically elected president
in 1953. As in Iraq and in Afghanistan we have perpetuated
the effects of colonial repression/arrogance in Iran. The
US seems to have learned nothing from the European history
in those areas. The United Nations, the middle eastern coalitions,
the European Union, ANY genuinely knowledgeable group (even
our own State Dept.) would offer better support and be more
palatable as advisors to the Iranians seeking a change.
Please understand that we have no business advising anyone
about the Middle East. Our track record speaks for it's
David Peng - Ann Arbor, Michigan
A bombshell story that should have been told much sooner.
Thank you for telling it. I especially applaud the courage
of reporter Jane Kokan.
My heart breaks every time I see or read about this type
of oppression. However, we cannot be so arrogant as to think
that the American way is the best way. Here in our own country
we have similar atrocities, police brutality, child abuse,
elderly abuse, controlled public info, Corporate irresponsibility,
and racism. Change cannot occur in Iran until extremist
Islamic leaders go back and read the Koran for the true
message, which has never condoned this type of treatment
of its followers. In addition, we as Americans have to stop
trying to ram our immoral culture down other cultures throats.
We are so quick to criticize other culture without knowing
anything about them. In my opinion, we do not have all the
answers but we sure seem to have all the money.
Anonymous - Foster City, California
As the parent of a college student my heart goes out to
all the students held in prisons in Iran for protesting
their government. These kids are very brave and are looking
to the West for help, but as other respondents mentioned,
what can we do that can bring about change that needs to
come from inside their own culture. The US has made the
mistake in the past that we know what's best or right in
every situation. I'm afraid the Gandhi model will not work
in the Middle East, so the students may have to increase
their numbers until their numbers can't be silenced.
Marina Noori - Brentwood, New York
I have seen this program about the Iranians and I really
felt sorry for the innocent young people who were beaten
or even killed and they need to stop these mullahs. They
also need democracy for a better life.
Anonymous - Edmond, Oklahoma
As an Iranian I must say the report by Ms. Kokan, although
brief, was brilliant, courageous, and truthful. What was
shown in the program about the Human Rights violation, torture
and murder in prisons of the Islamic Regime is just the
tip of the iceberg! However, I believe that a true democratic
movement emerges from within the nation by the suppressed
people, but the role of international organizations and
watch groups in exerting pressure on Mullahs is extremely
important. Frontline has done a great job airing the report
and showing the world that people in Iran, especially students
and younger generation, are tremendously suppressed by a
You got it totally wrong. For a moment I thought I was watching
a clip from North Korea. There is a great room for improvement
of human rights and democracy in Iran, however, Iran is
not a police state as it was put forward. I think Mrs. Kokan
is trying to advance her own journalistic ambition with
distortion and hup.
Manda Zand - Ellicott City, Maryland
The world should put a sanction on [Iran]. The world should
do to the regime in Iran what they did to the apartheid
regime in South Africa. The mullahs are only there because
the Europeans want them there for their economic interests.
Anonymous - Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Congratulations Jane Kokan. You are marvelously inspiring.
Thank you for your courage. Zahra Kazemi did not die in
vain. The truth is and will be told and eventually, that
is what will prevail.
Anonymous - Cherry Hill, New Jersey
The Iranian people are ready for real democracy and this
time they know better than to let religion mix in with politics.
I believe that foreign governments, especially many of the
European countries, which have great economic ties to Iran,
should place political pressure on the Islamic government
to stop the repression of students and journalist. This
can truly speed up the process of modernization in Iran.
I believe that requesting a referendum is some what pointless,
because the Mullahs know that agreeing to it would mean
an end to their regime. However political pressure from
the outside on things such as human rights has a real possibility
of improving freedom in Iran and allowing the Iranian people
to make the change from within.
I truly enjoyed this program mainly
because it gave a clear picture of the repressive government
under the religious rule of the Mullahs.
Ellen Brotherson - Hillsboro,
My, my...how very arrogant your
opinions sound. Are you saying that the people of Iran
were not ready for "real democracy" in the 50's when the
government of the USA thwarted, through the CIA „in an
astonishingly undemocratic manner„the will of the Iranian
people? And are you implying that we, in this nation,
being free from the unfortunate mixture of religion and
politics, (disregarding the blurring of those supposedly
well-established boundaries by the current administration)
may judge that the Iranians now "know better" than to
do what we, despite more that 200 years of law and tradition,
still cannot get right?
I feel awed and humbled by the
sheer courage and sacrifice of the Iranians profiled:
Zahra Kazemi, who has given the utmost in her pursuit
of truth and freedom, the student activist and the dissident
Arzhang, whose insistence that their faces be shown gives
their statements undeniable power and authenticity, but
who have thereby placed themselves in very great danger,
and the imprisoned student leader, Amir Fakhraran, who
will pay for his telephone connection with Jane Kokan
in ways I cannot bear to imagine.
There is a very important role
that we, as US citizens, have to play in this. Let us
call upon our leaders to bring every possible means of
influence (short of military intervention) to the support
of the Iranian dissidents. If we love democracy, then
we cannot let their sacrifices be in vain. And if we are
not motivated by such altruistic notions, then consider
that the establishment of democracy in Iran would do more
for our national security than any amount of military
force„especially if by our actions as a nation we were
to win the trust and friendship of a democratic Iran.
However, given past damages perpetrated by our government,
friendship may be too much to hope for. But honorable
and just action now would begin to neutralize some of
the hatred and suspicion in which we are currently held.
Paul Condylis - Chicago, Illinois
The program was brilliant, the correspondent and crew courageous
beyond belief. The U.S., the world owe Frontline a huge
debt of gratitude. You make me feel we are civilized, and
there is hope for us.
Banafsheh Pourzand - Brooklyn,
My father Siamak Pourzand is one of the journalists currently
in prison in Iran. I commend Ms. Kokan on her BRILLIANT
account and concise reporting. I'm grateful that a western
reporter FINALLY told it like it is. HOWEVER, Ebadi did
not deserve the mention as she sold the people of Iran out
in favor of her 15 minutes of fame.
Very poignant story! Courageous reporter like the courageous
Aamir Ali - Knoxville, Tennessee
This documentary sounded eerily similar to what was being
said about Iraq, and the demonization of the country before
the war. One of the reasons the Iranian government keeps
close tabs of foreign journalists is because they come to
Iran with pre-conceived notions and stereotypes and then
all they want is for confirmation of that view. Being an
Iranian I will say one thing that no one wants the Islamic
Republic to end, but they do want it to be more democratic
and to ease social restrictions.
Anonymous - San Diego, California
Mr. Amir Ali, I can only
wish that even people like you will eventually wake up
and realize that this Islamic regime has had no benefit
to anyone except to the mullah's deep pockets. The abuse
of the people, the theft of the natural resources, the
support of international terrorism apparently is not adequate
enough for the likes of you. If you are so confident about
the wants of the people within Iran why then is there
such a resistance to allow the people to express their
rights as a human being and choose their faith and future.
I hope to God that even people like you wake up soon because
too many people are being devastated and abused so that
Mullah's like Rafsanjani and likes can become multi-millionaires.
Amir Bozorgmehr - Los Angeles,
As an Iranian who still lives in that country, I suggest
people like you to come back and stay for year or two
and then tell others that "no one wants to end [the] Islamic
Republic". To the contrary the majority of people in Iran
are looking forward to see the end of this ruthless regime.
Come and see how our people suffering on a daily basis.
Of course it is easy for you to support this regime when
you live in United States. GET REAL.
Anonymous - Beverly Hills, California
All governments that practice democracy should exert economic
and political pressure on the cleric leaders of Iran to
accept the inevitable freedom to speak inherent in all human
beings. I applaud FRONTLINE/World for beginning the dialogue.
Ed Davis - Lancaster, Texas
The world should definitely support the Iranian freedom
movement, but as those Iranians who are actively engaged
in the search for change say themselves, the West should
not engage directly by military force.
The movement for democracy in Iran
must evolve and be realized by the Iranians themselves.
Our experience in the United States should remind us that
democracy can not be enacted by force from outside. After
years of abuses the colonists could no longer endure the
King's tyranny and threw him off. Our U.S. democracy endures
because this history is an integral part of our culture.
It must also be the case in Iran
that after years of abuse and repression at the hands of
a tyrannical government that the Iranians themselves arise
and throw off tyranny. Only in this way will the love of
freedom and the rejection of tyranny become an integral
part of Iranian culture and endure.
What role should the rest of the
world play then? I believe we should provide avenues of
expression and information for those who are engaged in
the quest for liberty within Iran. We need to let them know
they are not alone and that we support their efforts.
Anonymous - New York, New York
Before and after revolution we had always had political
prisoners in Iran. Outside governments should not interfere
with Iran's political situation. Only through inside and
outside human rights activists who have no governmental
connections a change can happen inside Iran. Iranians are
suspicious of world western governmental powers. Only Iranians
in Iran and human rights activists can bring change. In
addition, reports such as your program can help a little
bit in the slow process of change.
Cassandra Nunez - Crowley, Texas
I watched the show and i was so grateful that i was born
in the U.S. My heart and prayers are with the suffering
people of Iran. More towards the women than anything. I
know one day that Iran will be a free place, but it will
take time. Never give up hope.
Aryo B. Pirouznia - Addison, Texas
Ideological or theocratical regimes can't be reformed. The
persistent repression and the degradation of the situation
in Iran are the best proves of the collapse of the so-called
reforms within the Islamic republic regime.
More than ever, Iranians and particularly their growing
"Third Force" are looking toward the current US Administration
in order to bring its moral support of their legitimate
They wish to see a much more clear indication that the
totality of Bush administration is supporting them in their
endeavor of reaching Secularity and Democracy. And they
seek, mainly, the US pressure on the theocratic regime's
European partners in order to stop helping the finances
of the Islamic republic regime and to support Iranians true
Iran's Freedom and the emergence of a Secular, Democratic
and Accountable regime is the key to peace, stability and
progress in the region.
Shel Epstein - Wilmette, Illinois
TNX for broadcasting this important and scary story. It
further highlights the wisdom of those who teach that non
of us are free until all of us are free. I continue to feel
blessed that I was born in the USA.
Robert Roselle - Los Angeles, California
Lasting change can only occur from within Iran - when the
true patriots of Persia rise up to reclaim their land from
the ruling theocrats. Only they can decide their destiny,
and when they have had enough of fear and oppression.
Bodazey - Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Since when has outside intervention been good for any developing
countries' democrac[ies]? Democracy comes from within, not
with U.S. built daisy cutters. Iran needs TIME and nothing
else,that is if the cowboys in the White House can tame