Saturday, July 28, 2007
Human Rights Watch: Jailed Iranian Students Abused to Obtain Forced ConfessionsAuthorities Should Release 19 Detained Students and Activists at Once
(Washington, DC, July 27, 2007) – The Iranian government should immediately release 19 students and activists arrested in May and June on apparently politically motivated charges, Human Rights Watch said today. Human Rights Watch expressed concern that the authorities have been subjecting them to abuse to coerce confessions.
On July 24, the families of detained students Majid Tavakoli, Ahmad Ghasaban, and Ehsan Mansouri sent an open letter to Ayatollah Shahrudi, head of the Judiciary, about the physical and psychological abuse of their sons in section 209 of Tehran’s Evin prison, a security section of the prison where Human Rights Watch has documented many cases of prisoner abuse, including torture to coerce confessions.
Following two visits with their sons, the families alleged that authorities have subjected them to 24-hour interrogation sessions, sleep deprivation, and threats of harming the prisoners and their families. The families also said that the detainees had been confined in cells with dangerous convicted prisoners, beaten with cables and fists, and forced to remain standing for long periods of time.
“Reports that Iranian authorities have beaten and threatened these students to obtain confessions are all too consistent with accounts we have collected in the past,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “The government should release these 19 students and activists immediately.”
The three students were among eight whom agents of the Ministry of Intelligence arrested in May on charges of “insulting state leaders,” “inciting public opinion,” and “printing inflammatory and derogatory materials” in student publications. The students consistently maintained that the publications were forged and that they had no role in producing them. On July 18, five of the students were released on bail.
Six additional students were arrested on July 9 during a peaceful demonstration to protest the detentions outside the main gate of Amir Kabir University. They were holding a sit-in at the university to commemorate the anniversary of extensive student protests in July 1999 that the government violently suppressed. According to reports from activists, police and plainclothes security agents beat and arrested the six students and transferred them to Evin section 209.
Later that day, at 11:30 a.m, plainclothes officers arrived at the Office of the Alumni Association of Iran. They fired in the air before forcefully entering the premises and arresting 10 students and activists. The police then closed down the offices.
The Office of the Alumni Association of Iran is legally registered in accordance with amendment 10 of the Law of Political Parties. According to Iranian law, written notices and court appearances are required for shutting down legally registered organizations.
On July 10, Alireza Jamshidi, the official spokesperson for the Iranian Judiciary, confirmed these arrests. He denied that any of the detainees were students and said that the charges against them related to “security issues,” including “gathering illegally” and “colluding to act illegally.”
Since the July 9 arrests, security officials stormed the homes of seven of the detainees and confiscated their personal belongings.
On July 18, security agents ransacked the home of Abdollah Momeni, bringing him along from prison in handcuffs. According to activists who met with Momeni’s family following the search, Momeni’s face and body showed visible signs of beatings, and he appeared to have lost a considerable amount of weight during his nine days in custody. Security agents reportedly conducted the other home searches in a similar fashion.
According to sources in Iran who have been in touch with Momeni’s family, security agents have been attempting to force him to confess to acts he has not committed, such as being connected to forces outside the country who are attempting to implement a “soft revolution.”
International human rights law protects detainees from mistreatment, including forced “confessions.” The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is a party, protects the right of every person “[n]ot to be compelled to testify against himself or to confess guilt.”
Human Rights Watch is also concerned about the well-being of 19-year-old Amir Yaghoub Ali, a student supporter of the One Million Signatures Campaign, which aims to eliminate discriminatory laws against women.
On the evening of July 11, Yaghoub Ali was collecting signatures at Tehran’s Andishe Park on Shariati Street. Park security officers, after detaining him in the park’s security headquarters, transferred him to the 104th police station in Niloufar Square, where he spent the night. The next morning, authorities transferred him to the Revolutionary Court on Moallem Street, where Judge Sobhani ordered that he continue to be held pending completion of investigations into his case. His mother and sister were not able to obtain information about their son either at the police station or the courthouse on July 11. Upon their return to the court on July 12, Judge Sobhani informed them that he had ordered Yaghoub Ali’s transfer to Evin section 209.
Activists in Iran told Human Rights Watch that authorities are particularly vindictive toward male supporters of campaigns for women’s rights. A witness to the peaceful women’s protest of March 8, 2006 in Tehran’s Daneshjoo Park told Human Rights Watch that when security and police forces attacked the gathering with batons in order to disperse the crowds, they severely beat the men who were present.
The names of the students arrested on July 9 in front of the main gate of Amir Kabir University are:
1. Bahareh Hedayat
2. Mohammad Hashemi
3. Ali Niko-Nesbati
4. Mehdi Arabshahi
5. Hanif Yazdani
6. Ali Veghfi
The names of the students and activists arrested on July 9 at the Office of the Alumni Association are:
1. Abdollah Momeni
2. Bahram Fayazi
3. Morteza Eslahchi
4. Mojtaba Bayat
5. Habib Haji-Heidari
6. Massoud Habibi
7. Saieed Hosseinia
8. Arash Khandel
9. Ashkan Gheysvandi
10. Ezatollah Ghalandari
11. Mohammad Hossein Mehrzad
Activists who have been in contact with the detainees’ families have confirmed to Human Rights Watch that at least eight persons detained on July 9 are being held in solitary confinement. They are:
1. Bahareh Hedayat
2. Mojtaba Bayat
3. Abdollah Momeni
4. Ali Niko-Nesbati
5. Hanif Yazdani
6. Ali Veghfi
7. Mehdi Arabshahi
8. Mohammad Hashemi
Read Human Rights Watch’s June 22 news release on the detained students
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Saturday, July 21, 2007
Iran: The broadcast of self-incriminating interviews made by detainees facing charges violate fair trial standards7/20/07
Iran: The broadcast of self-incriminating interviews made by detainees facing charges violate fair trial standards
Public Statement by Amnesty InternationalAmnesty International condemns the broadcast by Iranian television of "interviews" with two dual, US-Iran nationals, Haleh Esfandiyari, 67 (f) and Kian Tajbakhsh, 45 (m), who have been detained in Tehran's Evin prison since 8 and 11 May, respectively.
Images from the broadcast: HalehEsfandiari (left), Ramin Jahanbagloo(center), and Kian Tajbakhsh
Amnesty International is concerned that the "interviews" could prejudice their defence in any trial proceedings that may be brought against them. Both reportedly face charges of "acting against state security" and engaging in "propaganda and espionage for foreigners" but, to date, more than two months after they were arrested, they are still being denied access to lawyers and no court date has been set for their trial. The interviews, broadcast on 18 July, have been described as "confessions" by Iran's press. They reportedly made no reference to the two detainees' imprisonment or the charges they face and there are fears that they were made under coercion or duress. The two detainees were shown acknowledging that they had participated in academic conferences and exchanges, which the Ministry of Intelligence claims were intended to establish networks intended to "further the interests of foreign powers" -- generally understood to mean the US. Further "interviews" with the two detainees are due to be shown on 19 July. The broadcast of these interviews violates the principle of presumption of innocence, a fundamental fair trial guarantee, set out in Article 14 (3)(g) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which recognizes the right of defendants "[n]ot to be compelled to testify against himself or to confess guilt", as well as article 11(1) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), which states that "Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees for his defence". Amnesty International considers Haleh Esfandiyari, Kian Tajbakhsh, and a third US-Iran dual national, peace activist Ali Shakeri, to be prisoners of conscience and is calling for their immediate and unconditional release. The organization is also calling on the Iranian authorities to return the passport confiscated from journalist Parnaz Azima, also a dual US-Iran national, and to allow her to leave Iran.
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Friday, July 20, 2007
Iran: The broadcast of self-incriminating interviews made by detainees facing charges violate fair trial standardsAMNESTY INTERNATIONALPublic StatementAI Index: MDE 13/092/2007 (Public)News Service No: 137 19 July 2007
Iran: The broadcast of self-incriminating interviews made by detainees facing charges violate fair trial standardsAmnesty International condemns the broadcast by Iranian television of "interviews" with two dual, US-Iran nationals, Haleh Esfandiyari, 67 (f) and Kian Tajbakhsh, 45 (m), who have been detained in Tehran's Evin prison since 8 and 11 May, respectively.Amnesty International is concerned that the "interviews" could prejudice their defence in any trial proceedings that may be brought against them. Both reportedly face charges of "acting against state security" and engaging in "propaganda and espionage for foreigners" but, to date, more than two months after they were arrested, they are still being denied access to lawyers and no court date has been set for their trial. The interviews, broadcast on 18 July, have been described as "confessions" by Iran's press. They reportedly made no reference to the two detainees' imprisonment or the charges they face and there are fears that they were made under coercion or duress. The two detainees were shown acknowledging that they had participated in academic conferences and exchanges, which the Ministry of Intelligence claims were intended to establish networks intended to "further the interests of foreign powers" -- generally understood to mean the US. Further "interviews" with the two detainees are due to be shown on 19 July.The broadcast of these interviews violates the principle of presumption of innocence, a fundamental fair trial guarantee, set out in Article 14 (3)(g) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which recognizes the right of defendants "[n]ot to be compelled to testify against himself or to confess guilt", as well as article 11(1) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), which states that "Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees for his defence". Amnesty International considers Haleh Esfandiyari, Kian Tajbakhsh, and a third US-Iran dual national, peace activist Ali Shakeri, to be prisoners of conscience and is calling for their immediate and unconditional release. The organization is also calling on the Iranian authorities to return the passport confiscated from journalist Parnaz Azima, also a dual US-Iran national, and to allow her to leave Iran.
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Tuesday, July 17, 2007
Akbar Ganji Calls for Nationwide Protest to Human Rights ViolationsAkbar Ganji Calls for Nationwide Protest to Human Rights Violations
In Interview with Rooz - 2007.07.17
We have conducted an exclusive interview with celebrated Iranian dissident Akbar Ganji as more and more students and activists find themselves behind bars.
Rooz (R): Why does the government put so much pressure on students, women and labor activists?
Akbar Ganji (AG): The Islamic Republic is a regime that is seriously frightened by the prospect of society’s empowerment. An authoritarian regime can survive only when society is weak. The Islamic Republic knows well that an empowered society paves the way for democracy, while a weak society corresponds to authoritarianism and dictatorship. This is why the regime has focused its energy on sabotaging society’s empowerment.
(R): What can be done in such circumstances?
(AG): A strange confusion has afflicted us all. We either try to acquire power through revolution and armed struggle, or we do nothing other than participating in elections. In either case we are “Leninists,” meaning that we summarize change in taking over power. In reality, however, the only right way of transitioning to democracy is through organizing society: to organize diverse desires and interests, as well as identities – all of these have to be organized to empower society. Democracy won’t come until society is empowered. This is why in today’s Iran any project that supports democracy must promote the organization of diverse social interests and desires. The people who have been arrested in Iran today are the voices of democracy and liberty in Iran. Unfortunately, not only do we not do anything for democracy and liberty in Iran, but we also fail to support those who do fight and ignore their sacrifices.
(R): You mean both inside and outside Iran?
(AG): These are two different discussions. The opposition outside Iran operates several good websites that disseminate information about what is really going on inside the country. Besides that, it has thus far failed to fulfill other missions that is expected from a genuine opposition. You don’t have an opposition just because you release statements. Group work requires structural organization. If opposition groups outside Iran are not able to publish a newspaper, if they are not able to manage a satellite television network, if they are not able to organize gatherings to protest the regime’s oppression, no one will take the idea of a hegemony and united opposition seriously. Millions of Iranians who reside outside the country can do a great deal to further the cause of democracy in Iran. We are all inexcusably passive. Anyone who stays silent in face of human rights violations has morally participated in those violations. Young students like Abdollah Momeni, who fight day and night for liberty and only get prison sentences in return, must make us wonder. No one asks what the millions of Iranians who live outside Iran and are rich and educated have done for their country’s transition to democracy. If someone tells them that with your efforts you have demonstrated that you are no more qualified than Ahmadinejad, has he lied? Must we be mad? We must not make legends out of people – especially out of a people who have only produced dictatorships in their long history. Any country’s political system fits the level of its people. If we claim that a Sultanist regime is not appropriate for us – which it is not – we must show that in action.
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Iran: Over 1,000 Equal Rights Defenders Protest the Recent Arrest of Student ActivistsIran: Over 1,000 Equal Rights Defenders Protest the Recent Arrest of Student Activists
Source: Change for Equality
The Women and Mothers of this Land, will Not Remain Silent in the Face of Violence Against our Children
A statement of protest which was issued by women involved in the women’s movement and supported by men who identify themselves as equal rights defenders, strongly objected to the arrest and violent crackdowns against student leaders. This statement which was signed by over 1,000 persons, recounted the most recent wave of arrests which began with the arrest of 6 members of the Central Council of the Office to Foster Unity, the most active student group. The Central Council members, Bahareh Hedayat, Mohammad Hashemi, Ali Niko Nesbati, Mahdi Arabshahi, Hanif Yazdani and Ali Vaghfi, had gathered for a peaceful sit-in in front of Amir Kabir University on the 7th anniversary of the student unrest on 18th of Tir, 1378 (July 1999), which ended in violence and storming of university dormitories and wide-spread arrest of student protesters. The Central Council members staged a sit-in to protest not only in marking of the 18th of Tir, but to demonstrate their objection to continued detention of 8 of their fellow students at Amir Kabir university, Abbas Hakimzadeh, Ali Saberi, Ahmad Ghassaban, Meghdad Khalilpour, Majid Tavakoli, Pooyan Mahmoudian, Majid Sheikhpour, Ehsan Mansouri, who were arrested over 2 months ago based on false allegations of inciting public opinion, printing of inflammatory and derogatory materials and insulting state leaders.
The statement issued by equal rights defenders further objected to the storming of security forces and police of the office of the Alumni Organization of Iran, a leading student organization, closely affiliated with the Office to Foster Unity. Security forces stormed the offices of this human rights and political organization, by firing their guns, and finally arresting members of the organization present in the office, including: Abdollah Momeni, Bahram Fayazi, Morteza Eslahchi, Mojtaba Bayat, Ezat-ollah Ghalandari, Habib Haj Heidari, Massoud Habibi, Saieed Hossein Nia, Arash Khandel and Ashkan Ghisvand. Computers and other equipment were confiscated and the offices of the Alumni Organization of Iran, which was a legally registered entity, were sealed.
The signatories to this statement reminded authorities that the peaceful protesters in front of Amir Kabir were acting within their legal rights as citizens, based on the 27th amendment of the constitution, which allows for peaceful gatherings and protests. They further explained that Iranian women and mothers have worked hard and under difficult circumstances to raise responsible children who care for the well-being of their community at large, and who are willing to take risks to make a better future for all citizens. Addressing decision makers, the statement went further to explain that "the mothers and women of this land, will come face to face with the wave of violence created by the state, and will take whatever means necessary to protect their children and ensure their freedom."
The statement also protested the heavy sentences issued for some women’s rights activists who are also involved in the student movement, such as Delaram Ali, who was sentenced to 2 years and 10 months in prison and 10 lashes, Azadeh Forghani, who was issued a suspended sentence of 2 years and Bahareh Hedayat, who was issued a 2 year suspended sentence.
The statement further expressed special concern for the circumstances of Bahareh Hedayat, who is the only female student arrested in this latest crackdown against student leaders, and as such, must be enduring much more difficult circumstances, than her male counterparts. It should be noted that Bahareh Hedayat serves as the Secretary of the Women’s Commission of the Office to Foster Unity and is an active member of the women’s movement. As mentioned earlier, she has a suspended sentence of 2 years, which with this latest arrest and charges, will in all likelihood have to be served. Abdullah Momeni, spokesman for the Alumni Organization of Iran, also has a suspended sentence, and his colleagues fear that his illegal detention will serve as an excuse to implement the suspended sentence.
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Sunday, July 15, 2007
Amnesty International: Public StatementPUBLIC AI Index: MDE 13/086/2007 13 July 2007Further Information on UA 08/06 (MDE 13/002/2006, 9 January 2006) and follow-ups (MDE 13/094/2006, 17 August 2006; MDE 13/129/2006, 29 November 2006 and MDE 13/011/2007, 31 January 2007) - Arbitrary arrest/Possible prisoner of conscience/Medical concernIRAN Mansour Ossanlu (m), Head of Union of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Bus CompanyTrade unionist Mansour Ossanlu, who had been released in December, was detained on 10 July. He was reportedly pushed into a car at around 7pm by men in plain clothes who beat him. On 12 July it was reported that he was being held in Section 209 of Evin Prison in Tehran. He had spent eight months in detention between December 2005 and August 2006, and a further month between November and December 2006 in connection with his activities as head of the Union of Workers of the Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company (Sherkat-e Vahed), and was facing trial. He had recently travelled to Europe to build international support for an independent trades union movement in Iran.Amnesty International believes he is a prisoner of conscience, held solely on account of his peaceful trades union activities, who should be released immediately and unconditionally.
BACKGROUND INFORMATIONThe Union of Workers of the Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company is said to have been founded in 1979 and resumed activities in 2004 after a 25-year ban. It is still not legally recognised. Iran is a State Party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, of which Article 22 (1) states: "Everyone shall have the right to freedom of association with others, including the right to form and join trade unions for the protection of his interests." Article 26 of Iran’s Constitution states: "The formation of parties, societies, political or professional associations … is permitted provided they do not violate the principles of independence, freedom, national unity, the criteria of Islam, or the basis of the Islamic republic. No one may be prevented from participating in the aforementioned groups, or be compelled to participate in them."
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to arrive as quickly as possible, in Persian, Arabic, English, French or your own language:- asking why Mansour Ossanlu was rearrested on 10 July, and asking for details of any charges he is facing;- expressing concern that he appears to be held solely on account of his peaceful trade union activities, and calling on the authorities to release him immediately and unconditionally;- in the meantime, calling on the authorities to ensure that he is given immediate and regular access to his lawyers, and his family;- expressing concern at reports that Mansour Ossanlu was beaten during his arrest and urging that these reports be fully investigated, with anyone found responsible for abuses brought to justice and given a fair trial;- calling for him to be given immediate access to any medical treatment he may require;- reminding the authorities of their obligations under the ICCPR, Article 22 (1) of which provides for the right to form and join trade unions.
APPEALS TO:Minister of IntelligenceGholam Hossein Mohseni EjeieMinistry of Intelligence, Second Negarestan Street, Pasdaran Avenue, Tehran, Islamic Republic of IranEmail: email@example.comSalutation: Your ExcellencyHead of the JudiciaryAyatollah Mahmoud Hashemi ShahroudiMinistry of Justice, Ministry of Justice Building, Panzdah-Khordad Square, Tehran, Islamic Republic of IranFax: +98 21 3390 4986 (please keep trying)Email: firstname.lastname@example.org (In the subject line: FAO Ayatollah Shahroudi)Salutation: Your Excellency
COPIES TO:PresidentHis Excellency Mahmoud AhmadinejadThe Presidency, Palestine Avenue, Azerbaijan Intersection, Tehran, Islamic Republic of IranFax: + 981 6 674 790 (Via Foreign Ministry. Mark "Please forward to H.E. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad")Email: email@example.com website: www.president.ir/email Salutation: Your ExcellencyHead of the Parliamentary Article 90 CommissionMohammad Reza FakerMajles-e Shoura-ye EslamiBaharestan Square, Tehran, IranFax: + 98 21 3355 6408and to diplomatic representatives of Iran accredited to your country.PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat, or your section office, if sending appeals after 24 August 2007.********
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Amnesty International : Save Iranian woman from execution by stoningAmnesty International
Save Iranian woman from execution by stoning
Amnesty International is making an urgent appeal to prevent the stoning to death of Mokarrameh Ebrahimi, an Iranian woman, following the stoning execution of her co-accused.Jafar Kiana was stoned to death in the village of Aghche-kand, near the town of Takestan, Qazvin province, on Thursday 5 July. There are grave concerns that his partner, Mokarrameh Ebrahimi, will suffer the same fate unless Iran's Head of the Judiciary intervenes immediately.Jafar Kiana and Mokarrameh Ebrahimi were due to be stoned to death on 21 June, but the execution was suspended after a wave of domestic and international pressure on the Iranian government. This included campaigning by the Iran-based Stop Stoning Forever campaign and Amnesty International. The couple had spent more than 11 years in prison for having an adulterous relationship. They have two children, who live with their mother in prison.The couple remained under sentence of execution by stoning, but it was believed the risk was not imminent. However, Jafar Kiana's execution has triggered fears that Mokarrameh Ebrahimi's life is in imminent danger.Under Iranian law, execution by stoning is a punishment for adultery by married men and women. The stones used are specifically designed to increase the victim's suffering. It has been reported that only a few members of the public participated in Jafar Kiana's stoning, which was carried out mostly by local governmental and judiciary officials. Amnesty International is outraged at this cruel, inhuman punishment - and urges the Head of the Judiciary, Ayatollah Shahroudi, to intervene immediately to prevent the planned stoning of Mokarrameh Ebrahimi.
Take action!Iran: Woman at risk of stoning (http://www.amnesty.org.uk/actions_details.asp?ActionID=294) (AIUK web action)
For further information, please see:
The Stop Stoning Forever campaign (http://www.meydaan.org/stoning/) (External site)
Amnesty International outraged at reported stoning to death and fears for victim's co-accused (http://web.amnesty.org/library/Index/ENGMDE130832007) (Public Statement, 9 July 2007)
Iran: Death penalty/ stoning: Mokarrameh Ebrahimi (http://web.amnesty.org/library/Index/ENGMDE130842007) (Urgent Action, 9 July 2007 )
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Monday, July 02, 2007
Protest in front of United Nations-NYNews Release FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Press Contact: Sharon McCarter
Phone: (202) 691-4016
Release No. #57-07
June 27, 2007
Hundreds Gather for Vigil in New York
Calling for the Immediate Release of Haleh Esfandiari and
Other Detained Iranian Americans
WASHINGTON—Today, more than 150 people gathered at the Dag Hammarskjold Plaza in New York City for a vigil calling for the immediate release of Dr. Haleh Esfandiari, director of the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Middle East Program, along with three other Iranian-Americans being held in Tehran: Kian Tajbakhsh, Parnaz Azima, and Ali Shakeri.
The vigil was jointly sponsored by Amnesty International, the American-Islamic Congress, Human Rights Watch, Vital Voices Global Partnership, the Near Eastern Studies Department of Princeton University, and several other organizations. The purpose of the vigil was two-fold: to urge that all charges be dropped against Haleh Esfandiari and the other three Iranian-Americans, and that the Iranian government immediately release Dr. Esfandiari and the other three detainees.
Speakers at the vigil included Shaul Bakhash, Haleh Esfandiari’s husband; Clarence J. Robinson, professor of history at George Mason University; Zainab Al-Suwaij, executive director of the American-Islamic Congress; and Sheila Dauer, director of the Women’s Human Rights Program at Amnesty International USA.
“In coming together today, our purpose is solemn, but our aim is simple: We call for the freedom of the detainees. They are innocent. The charges against them are baseless. Their incarceration violates Iranian law,” said Shaul Bakhash.
Senators Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and Barbara Mikulski sent letters and issued statements of support for the vigil and the immediate release of the detainees. (Copies of the senators’ statements, as well as a statement from Wilson Center President and Director Lee H. Hamilton, are included at the end of this release).
“I am extremely saddened by the continued imprisonment of Dr. Haleh Esfandiari and the other Iranian-Americans being held in Tehran. I call upon the Iranian government to free Haleh and the other Iranian-Americans immediately, and allow them to return safely to their families and loved ones," said Hamilton. "I ask the Iranian government to end this nightmare for Haleh and the other imprisoned Iranian-Americans on humanitarian grounds, on legal grounds, and on the basis of common dignity and decency. Let her return to her family. As I have said many times before, Haleh is a scholar. She is not a spy. Let Haleh go.”
On May 8, Iranian officials arrested and imprisoned Dr. Esfandiari in Tehran. The government of Iran has subsequently arrested the three other Iranian-Americans, Kian Tajbakhsh, Parnaz Azima, and Ali Shakeri, and has simultaneously engaged in a widespread crackdown on civil society in Iran.
All four of the detained Iranian-Americans face serious charges and could be sentenced to long prison terms. Dr. Esfandiari has been in Tehran’s Evin Prison for over 45 days, after having been prevented from leaving Iran since the end of December. To date, she has been denied access to her family, her lawyers, and international organizations like the Red Cross.
For up-to-date information regarding the situation of Dr. Haleh Esfandiari, please visit the Wilson Center’s media update center at www.wilsoncenter.org/halehnews. Media with questions may reach Sharon McCarter at firstname.lastname@example.org or (202) 691-4016. For information on how to assist current efforts to release Haleh, please visit http://www.freehaleh.org/.
The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars is the living, national memorial to President Wilson established by Congress in 1968 and headquartered in Washington, D.C. The Center establishes and maintains a neutral forum for free, open, and informed dialogue. It is a nonpartisan institution, supported by public and private funds and engaged in the study of national and world affairs.
Statement of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton on Continued Detention of Iranian-Americans (issued June 27, 2007):
“I am saddened and dismayed by the continued detention of Dr. Haleh Esfandiari and Parnaz Azima, and the recent arrests of fellow Iranian-Americans Dr. Kian Tajbakhsh and Ali Shakeri. I have joined the fifteen women Senators in writing to Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon urging him to intervene on behalf of Dr. Esfandiari and Ms. Azima, and I am gravely disappointed that the situation in Iran has been allowed to escalate. It is an unconscionable violation of human rights to detain and imprison individuals without just cause, and we cannot let this situation stand.
All of these individuals have taken steps to promote peace and understanding between Iran and the United States. Dr. Esfandiari is head of the Middle East Program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, where she has worked to raise awareness of international women's issues. Ms. Azima is a journalist for Radio Farda, the Persian-language service of Voice of America/Radio Free Europe, where she has presented unbiased information on current events. Dr. Tajbakhsh is an urban planning expert who has consulted on behalf of the World Bank on development projects, and Mr. Shakeri is a founder and board member of the Center for Citizen Peacebuilding at the University of California Irvine. Allegations that their activities - activities that are in the public's interest, and a public service - are attempts to overthrow the Iranian government are unfounded and baseless, and must not go unchallenged by the international community.
It is imperative that these Iranian-Americans be able to return unharmed to their families and homes, where they can continue to carry out their work of promoting international understanding. I call upon the United Nations to work with international partners and its member states to secure their release, and I pledge to do all I can with my partners in Congress to ensure that no harm comes to these individuals.”
Senator Barack Obama’s Statement On Human Rights In Iran (issued June 27, 2007):
“I am sorry that I cannot be here in person to speak out on behalf of Haleh, Kian and the other dual citizens being held against their will in Iran. I stand with those who demand the immediate and unconditional release of these scholars and experts who have long argued for building bridges between the U.S. and Iran.
The time is now for them to be allowed to come home to their families, friends and colleagues. I appeal to the Government of Iran. Please release these people. They are innocent of any wrongdoing.”
Senator Barbara Mikulski Continues Call for Release of Imprisoned Iranian-American Scholar (issued June 27, 2007):
“I wish I could be with you today during today’s important vigil at the United Nations Plaza. I want to thank Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Vital Voices and others for bringing us together – know that I stand with you as you fight for the freedom of the four Iranian-Americans being detained by the Government of Iran.
Our hearts go out to Haleh Esfandiari, Kian Tajbakhsh, Parnaz Azima, and Ali Shakeri – and our prayers are with them and their families at this difficult time. All four have been unjustly targeted by Iran’s government. I am personally very concerned about Maryland’s own Dr. Haleh Esfandiari, who has been unlawfully imprisoned for more than a month. She has been denied legal representation and family visitation. Her family and I are very concerned about her health and well-being. That’s why all of the women Senators sent a letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon urging him to ask Iran for Dr. Esfandiari’s release. It’s also why I joined my colleague from Maryland, Senator Ben Cardin, in passing a unanimous Senate resolution condemning her arrest.
Your efforts today are so important. We know the government of Iran is watching what we do, and we want them to know we will not relent. We want all four Iranian-Americans released immediately and allowed to travel outside of Iran. In the meantime, these prisoners must be allowed to consult with lawyers, to be visited by international humanitarian organizations, and to see their families. I stand in solidarity with Dr. Esfandiari’s family, and will do everything in my power to secure her immediate release and safe return home.”
Statement from Lee H. Hamilton on Vigil in New York (issued June 27, 2007):
“I am extremely saddened by the continued imprisonment of Dr. Haleh Esfandiari and the other Iranian-Americans being held in Tehran. I call upon the Iranian government to free Haleh and the other Iranian Americans immediately, and allow them to return safely to their families and loved ones.
Haleh is a dear and close colleague, a renowned scholar—and one who has been consistently a strong supporter of an Iranian-American dialogue. For almost six months, she has been prevented from returning home. And for more than 50 days, she has been incarcerated, without anyone being able to see her—not her mother, not her lawyer, not the Swiss Government, not the International Committee of the Red Cross. We are extremely concerned about Haleh’s physical and mental state, and also the physical and emotional toll this has taken on Haleh’s 93-year old mother.
Prior to her imprisonment May 8th, Haleh, under more than 50 hours of intense interrogation spanning several weeks, answered all of the questions about her work for the Wilson Center posed by the Iranian Government’s interrogators. Neither Haleh, nor the Wilson Center, have anything to hide. Neither she, nor the Wilson Center, are involved in any activities to undermine the Iranian Government.
I again ask the Iranian Government to end this nightmare for Haleh and the other imprisoned Iranian Americans on humanitarian grounds, on legal grounds and on the basis of common dignity and decency. Let her return to her family. As I have said many times before, Haleh is a scholar. She is not a spy. Let Haleh go.”