CAF/MESA calls for the immediate and unconditional release of Kian Tajbakhsh

By , July 30, 2009 10:04 am

The Committee on Academic Freedom (CAF) of the Middle East Studies Association of North America (MESA) on July 16th, sent a letter to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei about their concern with Kian Tajbakhsh’s arrest and called for his immediate and unconditional release.

An excerpt of the full article is shown below:


Our special concern with Dr. Tajbakhsh’s arrest and safety also stems from the fact that he was previously detained in 2007, held for four months in solitary confinement on the basis of charges that lacked credibility, and forced to participate in a sham “confession” which was broadcast on Iranian state television, before being released. Despite that harrowing experience, Dr. Tajbakhsh subsequently opted to remain in Iran and to continue working as an expert in urban planning and social policy in that country, given his unflagging commitment to the welfare of his native country and its people. We fear Dr. Tajbakhsh may again be a victim of concocted allegations.

Your Excellency, we call for the immediate and unconditional release of Dr. Tajbakhsh, who was not involved in the recent protests, as well as those academics, scholars, and students arrested for no more than exercising their basic right to freedom of expression and peaceful protest (as guaranteed in the constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran). We also urge that these individuals be treated with absolute dignity and given access to legal representatives of their choosing while they remain in detention.

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Family and Friends of Detained American-Iranian Scholar Kian Tajbakhsh Decry Decision by Iranian Authorities to Refuse to Receive Petition Calling for his Release

By , July 28, 2009 7:16 pm

Officials at the Iranian mission to the United Nations in New York have refused to receive a petition including some 800 signatures by individuals calling for the unconditional release of Dr. Kian Tajbakhsh from detention in Iran. Those signing the petition, organized by the New School for Social Research in New York, “strongly deplore and condemn [the] detention and persecution of Dr. Kian Tajbakhsh…call for his immediate and unconditional release, and urge the officials of the Islamic Republic of Iran to respect, guarantee, and implement the provisions and principles of human rights as specified in international conventions and treaties to which Iran has long been a signatory.”

New School Professor Arien Mack confirmed that an attempt was made to deliver two envelopes containing the petition, addressed to Ambassador Mohammad Khazaee and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamene’i care of the Ambassador, to the Iranian mission to the UN on Wednesday, July 22, but the envelopes were refused. The New School left a message with the Mission’s legal department inquiring about the refusal, but has yet to receive a response.

Other prominent groups including the 3,300 members of PEN American Center, the International Cooperation Agency of Dutch Municipalities, Columbia University, and the Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives in Pakistan have called for Kian’s release. PEN, an international organization of writers dedicated to protecting freedom of expression, stated in their appeal that they are “deeply concerned that Kian Tajbakhsh has been swept up in a crackdown on peaceful scholars and journalists following the disputed presidential elections in violation of their right to freedom of expression, as guaranteed in Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is a signatory.”

Iranian agents arrested Kian Tajbakhsh, an American citizen, and took him away from his wife and small daughter at their home in Tehran at 9:00pm on July 9, 2009. We still have no information about where Kian was taken. We are concerned that he is being held in an attempt by the Iranian authorities to obtain forced statements from him to use in a televised show trial to falsely accuse ‘foreign powers’ of interference in Iran’s postelection crisis. Such statements are repeatedly extracted under conditions of torture for the sole purpose of staging televised show trials in an attempt to deceive the Iranian public.

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140 prisoners from Iran election crackdown freed (Source: Associated Press)

By , July 28, 2009 7:14 pm

This Associated Press article reports on the release of 140 prisoners and fate of the remaining prisoners including Kian:

In Washington, U.S. State Department spokesman Ian Kelly called for detainees’ release, saying the U.S. was “deeply concerned about all these arbitrary arrests, detentions and harassments that have taken place in Iran, as well as the persistent lack of due process.” He also expressed concern over three detained foreign citizens — Iranian-American scholar Kian Tajbakhsh, Newsweek reporter Maziar Bahari, who holds Iranian and Canadian citizenship, and a French scholar, Clotilde Reiss.

The head of Iran’s judiciary, Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi, promised on Monday that the public prosecutor would review the situation of all the postelection detainees within a week and decide whether to release or bring them to trial, the state news agency IRNA reported. State television said Tuesday that Ahmadinejad urged Shahroudi to accelerate making decision on the fate of detainees.

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U.S. Government very concerned about some detentions of foreign citizens, urges Iran to resolve all outstanding foreign national cases

By , July 28, 2009 7:13 pm

US State Department press briefing, July 28th

QUESTION: Just a question on Iran. I’m sure you’ve seen the reports that Supreme Leader Khamenei has ordered a detention center closed. Is this a good thing?

MR. KELLY: I’ve only seen reports of it, so it’s hard for me to – or hard for us at the State Department to comment on something that we’ve only seen reports of. I mean, what I will say is, of course, that we’re deeply concerned about all these arbitrary arrests, detentions, and harassments that are – that have taken place in Iran, as well as the persistent lack of due process.

All along, we’ve called upon Iran’s leadership to release all of those who have been detained unjustly, and so allow them to be reunited with their families. In addition, we’re very concerned about some detentions of foreign citizens, including an American scholar that we’ve talked about here before, Kian Tajbakhsh, Newsweek reporter Maziar Bahari, and there’s a French scholar, Clotilde Reiss.

They have been detained, we think, without any grounds. And we find this unacceptable and we’re urging Iran to resolve all outstanding foreign national cases…

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Son of leading scientist dies in jail as fears grow over fate of Iran’s political prisoners

By , July 28, 2009 7:07 pm

Fears are mounting over the safety of hundreds of political inmates in Iran’s most notorious prison following the deaths of two prisoners detained in the recent post-election unrest…

Campaigners are also concerned for the safety of Kian Tajbakhsh, an American-Iranian scholar said to be under pressure to confess involvement in an alleged western plot to orchestrate the protests following Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s re-election.

[Original Article]

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Free Kian: Appeal by over 3,300 members of the PEN association

By , July 24, 2009 7:34 am

The PEN Association called for the immediate and unconditional release of Dr. Kian Tajbakhsh. The text of the appeal is shown below:

Your Excellencies,

On behalf of the 3,300 members of PEN American Center, an international organization of writers dedicated to protecting freedom of expression wherever it is threatened, we are writing to express our deep concern regarding the arrest of Dr. Kian Tajbakhsh.

According to our information, Kian Tajbakhsh, a prominent Iranian-American social scientist and urban planner who has published two books and numerous articles in his field, was taken from his home by the state security forces on the night of July 9, 2009. Police reportedly searched his home and confiscated his computer. To date, his family has no information on his whereabouts or the reasons for his detention. He was not a participant in the recent protests following the disputed June 12, 2009 presidential elections.

This is not the first time Kian Tajbakhsh has been targeted by authorities. He was detained without charge in May 2007 and held in solitary confinement in Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison until September of the same year. That detention sparked international protests as well.

PEN American Center is deeply concerned that Kian Tajbakhsh has been swept up in a crackdown on peaceful scholars and journalists following the disputed presidential elections in violation of their right to freedom of expression, as guaranteed in Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is a signatory. We therefore call for his immediate and unconditional release, as well as the release of all other writers, scholars, journalists and students held in violation of their right to freedom of expression.

Thank you for your attention to this serious matter.

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Release Kian Tajbakhsh: The International Cooperation Agency of the Association of Netherlands Municipalities Calls for Kian’s Release

By , July 20, 2009 7:48 pm

Shown below is the statement released by VNG International (The International Cooperation Agency of The Association of Netherlands Municipalities) strongly condemning Dr. Kian Tajbakhsh’s unjustified detention and calling for his immediate release:

Release Kian Tajbakhsh: The International Cooperation Agency of the Association of Netherlands Municipalities Calls for Kian’s Release

VNG International—the International Cooperation Agency of The Association of Netherlands Municipalities—expresses its deep concern over the arrest of our associated expert and colleague, the urban development specialist and social scientist, Dr. Kian Tajbakhsh, who was arrested by the Iranian authorities on July 9, 2009. VNG International strongly condemns his unjustified detention and calls for his immediate release.
Kian Tajbakhsh is a leading local government expert with an excellent international reputation who has worked regularly together with VNG International since 2004. Within the VNG International “LOGO SOUTH program on Developing the Capacity of the Local Government Sector”, financed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, he had planned to undertake a mission to Nepal last weekend. According to his contract with VNG International, he would assist the Municipal Association of Nepal (MuAN) and provide them with a comparative assessment of the local government situation in federal countries, a comparative analytical perspective on the structures, functions and finances among the various tiers of government as practiced in relevant country legislation and a review of the study by Nepalese experts on “Federalism and Local Government Restructuring”. The detention of Kian Tajbakhsh is a harmful disruption of the process of cooperation with MuAN in Nepal.

VNG International cannot understand why a skilled and honest expert and scientist like Kian Tajbakhsh is treated with such disrespect by the government of Iran. VNG International calls on the leadership of Iran to release Kian Tajbakhsh and enable him to resume his important work for the development of stronger local government—the tier of government that is crucial for service delivery to the citizens—in our world and global community.

Peter Knip
Director of VNG International

PAAIA Calls for the Iranian authorities to guarantee Detainee Rights

By , July 19, 2009 7:26 pm

PAAIA (Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans) on July 11th posted a statement on their website calling for the guarantee of detainee rights. Specifically mentioned in the statement was Dr. Kian Tajbakhsh.  A brief excerpt is shown below:

Among those detained is Dr. Kian Tajbakhsh, an Iranian American scholar, who was arrested on July 9 and his whereabouts remain unknown. Dr. Tajbakhsh, 47 had previously been one of four Iranian Americans detained in May 2007 on charges of endangering Iran’s national security, but denied the allegations and was released after about four months. Iranian authorities have neither confirmed nor denied Dr. Tajbakhsh’s recent arrest. We urge the Iranian authorities to disclose the whereabouts and conditions of Dr. Tajbakhsh and all other detainees, and to safeguard their rights under law.

American’s family fears Iranian show trial(Source: Associated Press)

By , July 17, 2009 7:13 pm

The Associated Press just posted an article by Desmond Butler based on the statement by family and friends that was issued yesterday, as published here by ABC News, for example:

“WASHINGTON - The family and associates of an Iranian-American scholar under arrest in Iran say they are worried that the Islamic Republic is preparing to bring him before a show trial.

Iranian state-run Press TV has reported that Kian Tajbakhsh was arrested last week for working with a local employee of the British Embassy, Hossein Rassam, who also is being held in Tehran. Iran has accused other countries, especially the United States and Britain, of provoking unrest and protests that followed disputed June 12 presidential elections.

Family and friends of Tajbakhsh deny the charges and in a statement e-mailed to The Associated Press by Pamela Kilpadi, a researcher who has been working on a book with Tajbakhsh, expressed fear he may be facing torture in Iranian captivity.

“We are concerned that Kian is being held in an attempt by the Iranian authorities to obtain forced statements from him to use in a televised show trial,” the statement says. “Such statements are repeatedly extracted under conditions of torture for the sole purpose of staging televised show trials in an attempt to deceive the Iranian public.”

The statement was also posted on a Web site the family and associates have organized to draw attention to his captivity.

Iran accuses Rassam of playing a “key role” in guiding British diplomats during the protests, according to the state-run TV. His arrest has sparked a showdown with European Union countries, which are insisting on his release.

The U.S. government has called Tajbakhsh’s arrest unjust and said he should be released.

Tajbakhsh, a social scientist and urban planner, spent four months in prison in 2007, charged along with three other Iranian-Americans with endangering national security.


[Link to article]
[also translated and republished in Persian media]

Family and Friends of Detained Iranian American Scholar Kian Tajbakhsh Strongly Deny Accusations by Iranian Authorities and Denounce Iran’s Use of Forced Statements by Political Prisoners

By , July 16, 2009 5:37 pm

In Iran’s first official acknowledgment of Kian’s arrest on July 9, Iranian Press TV reported on Monday that “Iranian authorities detained Tajbakhsh on grounds of cooperating with Hossein Rassam, the head of the security and political division of the British Embassy in Tehran, who is also in custody over post-election turmoil.”

These false accusations are entirely groundless. Those who know Kian understand that his persecution by Iranian authorities is not only tragic but ironic—as a social scientist and urban planner he has always sought political neutrality in an effort to bridge cultural divides and honor his much-loved homeland. His work is a valued asset that the Government of Iran should seek to protect.

The Iranian state television report on Kian’s arrest also notes that “Iran blames foreign powers, the US and Britain in particular, for what it calls interference in its internal affairs and post-vote disturbances, which have claimed the lives of at least 20 people.”

We are concerned that Kian is being held in an attempt by the Iranian authorities to obtain forced statements from him to use in a televised show trial. It is exceedingly important that we all strongly denounce Iran’s serial practice of extracting forced statements from political prisoners. Such statements are repeatedly extracted under conditions of torture for the sole purpose of staging televised show trials in an attempt to deceive the Iranian public.

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