Roozbeh Farahanipour (Persian:روزبه فراهانی پور)(born July 16, 1971 in Tehran, Iran) is a leader in the movement for an Iranian cultural renaissance and the chairman of the Marzé Por Gohar ("Glorious Frontiers") political party, which advocates the overthrow of Iran's Islamic government and its replacement with a secular Iranian Republic. After being imprisoned and tortured for his key role in the uprising of July 1999 Farahanipour went into exile in the United States, where he has received political asylum.
Farahanipour was a student of Law at the University of Tehran until 1993, when he was expelled on political grounds and banned from further education. In a political atmosphere where the study of Iran's pre-Islamic past was considered a form of dissent, in 1994 he founded a journal dedicated to Iranian Studies with an emphasis on Zoroastrianism. Entitled Vohuman ("Pure Thought" in the teachings of Zarathustra), the journal garnered a considerable following. He founded his own publishing house, also with an emphasis on ancient Iran. On the side, in a labor of love, Farahanipour spent two years using walnut and snakeskin to restore "Bayan-Olhagh", written by Mirza Mohammad Sadegh Fakhroleslam.
Once Vohuman was banned by the Islamic authorities in 1998, Farahanipour became the chief editor of the weekly Nedayeh Ghomess (The "Call" or rallying "Cry" of Ghomess, one of the capitals of ancient Iran). This editorship was terminated by the Ministry of Intelligence and National Security when he attempted to publish the names of 57 people who were victims of the infamous serial murders of the period, in which tens of anti-regime intellectuals were assassinated. Among those murdered by agents of the regime in the course of this killing spree were Dariush Forouhar and his wife Parvaneh. Forouhar was the leader of a pan-Iranist opposition party by the name of Hezbé Mellaté Iran (the "National Party of Iran" or the "People's Party of Iran"). The latter was a spin-off of the Pan-Iranist Party which advocated the reunification of Greater Iran and had for a time been allowed to function as an opposition party within the parliament during the reign of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, despite its support for Mohammad Mossadegh. After the assassination of the Forouhars, Farahanipour was among the leading members of those who took up the mantle of the political movement for a pan-Iranian renaissance with roots in the ancient Persian heritage. On July 8, 1998, together with his nationalist peers, some of whom had been involved with the Iranian Studies circle of Vohuman, Farahanipour organized the Hezbé Marzé Por Gohar ("Glorious Frontiers Party") named after the patriotic song suppressed by the Islamic regime whose lyrics begin, "Oh Iran, O Glorious Frontiers…" He also helped to organize "The National Society of Journalists" and was a member of the executive committee in that organization as well. Marzé Por Gohar was a major force in the anti-regime secularist turn that took place in the demonstrations of July 1999 (known in Iran as the "18th of Tir" uprising), a herald of the broader national uprising that would take place a decade later. The Ministry of Intelligence declared Marzé Por Gohar an illegal party and denounced Farahanipour as a leader of the unrest. On July 14, 1999 his house was raided by armed Islamic militias. He was arrested together with twelve comrades and two Afghan house guests. During the course of 36 days in solitary confinement in the worst of the Islamic regime's prisons, the Towhid installation, Farahnipour was repeatedly tortured and interrogated by the Ministry of Intelligence and the revolutionary court. His personal testimony of torture was included in the United Nations' Report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and Follow-up to the World Conference on Human Rights. He was eventually released on 50,000,000 Rials bail, which was paid with the deed to a compatriot's house. In view of the extremely long prison sentences being received by other activists, rather than waiting for the court to decide his fate Farahanipour chose to continue his struggle from abroad. He escaped Iran and sought political asylum in the United States.
Now based in the Iranian expatriate community of Los Angeles, often referred to as Tehrangeles or Irangeles, Farahanipour continues his activism. He has been a strong voice against US engagement with the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran, for example by testifying in hearings for the California Public Divestment from Iran Act Bill 221 and being cited in a Senate hearing of the Subcommittee on Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs tasked with considering the limits to rapproachment with Iran. In addition to advising government officials in Washington and addressing students and faculty at universities across the country, he has organized numerous demonstrations against the ruling Islamic regime. In 2005 he chartered a plane to fly activists from Los Angeles to New York to take part in demonstrations against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's visit to the United Nations General Assembly. He also organized the Persian Gulf campaign, which resulted in National Geographic's correction of its politically-motivated and economically-coerced renaming of the Persian Gulf as the "Arabian Gulf." Most significantly, during the 2009 national uprising after allegations of an electoral coup in June, Farahanipour and Marzé Por Gohar were active in attempting to facilitate the groundswell for a revolutionary overthrow of a regime that many people had come to recognize as irreformable. When the crackdown on massive demonstrations became increasingly brutal and bloody in July 2009, a decade after the uprising that led to his own exile, Farahanipour clandestinely entered Iran for several days to conduct organizational activities on the ground.
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