Tehranis took to the street once again today for demonstrations ostensibly marking the tenth anniversary of the 18 Tir massacre. We don’t yet know how many Iranians were beaten, arrested, or even killed in open defiance of the Khamenei regime. As the uprising continues and the beatings, arrests, and repression become common place, it is difficult – but imperative – to not become desensitized to their plight. It is also imperative that we remember those Iranians who have just simply disappeared. Bijan Khajehpour is one such Iranian.
Bijan Khajehpour, a prominent political economist and CEO of Atieh Bahar Consulting, arrived in Tehran on June 27. When his flight from Britain arrived at Imam Khomeini airport, Dr. Khajehpour was snatched. Dr. Khajehpour’s whereabouts remain unknown, though some assume that he, like many Iranians, has been detained in the notorious Evin Prison.
While Dr. Khajehpour is just one of maybe thousands of Iranians who have disappeared since the June 12 election, his disappearance is particularly disturbing because he was neither a street protestor nor a leader in Mousavi or Karroubi’s campaign. Instead, Dr. Khajehpour was a public intellectual and businessman. His arrest represents a regime striking out at civil society. It is indicative, as if we needed any more indicators, of a regime in distress, acting out of fear for its very survival. Such a regime is very dangerous; it will likely continue to consolidate power not just into institutions but individuals it deems reliable (like Mojtaba Khamenei) and its brutality towards its own people will increase in proportion to the regime’s relative isolation.