American Morning

Iranian protester pleads for U.S., world to intervene

A picture obtained on June 21, 2009 shows Iranian riot police on a street of Tehran on June 20, 2009.

An Iranian student protester in Tehran made a passionate plea for help from the world community this morning in a phone call to CNN’s “American Morning.”

For safety reasons, CNN can only identify the student by his first name, Mohammad. He's been a part of the protests and a target of the violence there. Below is an edited transcript of the interview.

John Roberts: What is the scene like on the streets? Are there more demonstrators out there on the streets? Or is it much quieter than it has been in recent days?

Mohammad: Hello. Actually I participated in Saturday's demonstrations in parts of Tehran. What I saw, I saw thousands of security officers that tried to break up the crowd. They used canisters and batons and water cannons against us. They attacked us. And we also in response attacked them. We attacked them by throwing stones. And we built trenches in the streets and actually defended too.

Roberts: So there was quite a large confrontation going on there over the weekend. But can you tell us what the scene is like on the streets today?

Mohammad: Today was a long day in Tehran. And yesterday there weren't any organized rallies in Tehran. Because we take orders from our leader Mr. Karroubi and Mr. Mir Hossein Moussavi. The connections, the communication is very difficult, more than even you can imagine in Tehran. But I myself haven't received any orders from our leaders yet. But as soon as I get any order, I will participate in any demonstration that they tell us.

Kiran Chetry: When you say receiving orders, tell us how the protests are organized. How are you guys called to go and where?

Mohammad: Actually, I'm a regular person. I'm not behind the scenes. I cannot tell you exactly how these demonstrations are organized. But as I know, as people said, there is a council, a group of Iranian reformists who organize these demonstrations and they tell us in any way that they could and we just follow.

Chetry: Do you get it on your cell phone, text messages, are you able to use the internet?

Mohammad: Actually, they reduce the internet speed. We have severe problems with the messenger software and every software like messengers. This is arranged by making calls, messages, calls to his friends or her friends and try to gather as much to tell as he or she can.

Roberts: Mohammad, we have been talking this morning about what the students are fighting for and whether the students are fighting for something different than the older more established political candidates like Moussavi. Are the students seeking regime change? Are they looking to bring down the Ayatollah and completely change the form of government there in Iran? Or are you looking for – as has been suggested – more civil rights, more freedoms within the context of the existing regime?

Mohammad: Yes. Let me tell you something. For about three decades our nation has been humiliated and insulted by this regime. Now Iranians are united again one more time after 1979 Revolution. We are a peaceful nation. We don't hate anybody. We want to be an active member of the international community. We don't want to be isolated. Is this much of a demand for a country with more than 2,500 years of civilization? We don't deny the Holocaust. We do accept Israel's rights. And actually, we want - we want severe reform on this structure. This structure is not going to be tolerated by the majority of Iranians. We need severe reform, as much as possible.

Roberts: Interesting perspective this morning from Mohammad, a student demonstrator there in Tehran.

Mohammad: Excuse me, sir. I have a message for the international community. Would you please let me tell it?

Roberts: Yes, go ahead.

Mohammad: Americans, European Union, international community, this government is not definitely - is definitely not elected by the majority of Iranians. So it's illegal. Do not recognize it. Stop trading with them. Impose much more sanctions against them. My message…to the international community, especially I’m addressing President Obama directly – how can a government that doesn't recognize its people's rights and represses them brutally and mercilessly have nuclear activities? This government is a huge threat to global peace. Will a wise man give a sharp dagger to an insane person? We need your help international community. Don't leave us alone.

Chetry: Mohammad, what do you think the international community should do besides sanctions?

Mohammad: Actually, this regime is really dependent on importing gasoline. More than 85% of Iran’s gasoline is imported from foreign countries. I think international communities must sanction exporting gasoline to Iran and that might shut down the government.

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