Posts tagged: detention

Interview with lawyer for Kian Tajbakhsh (Source: VOA-PNN)

By , January 13, 2010 3:11 pm

Kian’s lawyer Massoud Shafie discussed his client’s case in this television interview:

Jailed Iranian-American Faces 15 Years In Iran Prison (Source: NPR)

By , January 13, 2010 3:06 pm

National Public Radio (NPR) has posted a transcript of their story profiling Kian’s case:

Listen to the story

“Scholar Kian Tajbakhsh was supposed to teach at Columbia University this fall. But he’s been detained in an Iranian prison since the summer, when he was arrested in the aftermath of Iran’s presidential elections. In October, Tajbakhsh was sentenced to 15 years in jail. Now friends, family and fellow academics are calling for his release. NPR’s Jacki Lyden has this profile.

SCOTT SIMON, host: We now turn to human rights in Iran, which has been holding thousands of people since the June 12th election, including an Iranian-American, a 47-year-old Columbia University scholar who was sentenced to 15 years in prison for espionage. This week, NPR’s Jacki Lyden spoke to people close to him.

JACKI LYDEN: Right now, Kian Tajbakhsh should be wrapping up his first term teaching at Columbia’s School for Architecture, Preservation and Planning. He was to begin earlier this year on the eighth of September. Instead, the school’s dean, Mark Wigley, spoke out about the imprisoned scholar.

Mr. MARK WIGLEY (Dean, Columbia University): In fact, he was due to start teaching this very day. It is therefore extremely painful to see him arrested and imprisoned.

LYDEN: It would’ve been a great reunion. Tajbakhsh earned his Ph.D. at Columbia more than 15 years ago, as his mother, Farideh Gueramy, told us on the phone from Tehran.

Ms. FARIDEH GUERAMY: One could say that he became a New Yorker. He would enjoy the culture there. He would enjoy Woody Allen movies and we would talk about all the different diversity, diverse group in New York City.

LYDEN: In 1998, Kian Tajbakhsh returned to Iran for the first time in 20 years. His mother had brought him to the U.S. when he was a four-year-old.

Ms. GUERAMY: My son, most of the time, would criticize me that I brought him out of Iran when he was young, four years old, and I deprived him from his language, his culture. And he always wanted to go back to Iran. He loved Iran, he loved the Persian language and he loved the poetry, he loved Persian music, and he had start actually teaching himself the language.

LYDEN: Kian Tajbakhsh moved back to Iran in October of 2001. He married and had a daughter. What he saw as an era of openness was in fact the beginning of the end of the kind of expanded civil society that Iranians had been enjoying in a reform era. After the 2005 election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, liberty began to vanish. Paranoia crept in.

In 2007, Kian Tajbakhsh was arrested for the first time. At Evin Prison, he discovered he wasn’t the only Iranian-American scholar there. Haleh Esfandiari, director of the Middle East Program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, was there too.

Ms. ESFANDIARI: They would take us together for interrogation. He usually would walk ahead of me and we were both blindfolded. So when the interrogator would refer to him as Mr. Doctor – (foreign language spoken) – so I knew that Kian was walking ahead of me down the stairs being blindfolded, and I would look down and see his slippers.

LYDEN: After her release, Haleh Esfandiari left Iran and wrote a book, “My Prison, My Home.” But Kian Tajbakhsh stayed on, writing about urban planning. Then came the presidential election of June 12th, 2009. It changed everything for Iranians. After the mass protest following the disputed election, thousands were rounded up and sent to prison.

Kian Tajbakhsh was arrested a second time, on July the 9th, and he found himself accused, says Haleh Esfandiari, by a government determined to cast him as a part of a velvet revolution.

Ms. ESFANDIARI: I know that they had convinced themselves that there is a plot through soft means to overthrow the regime. And the moment they saw the Green movement, members of the Green movement in the streets of Tehran, it reminded them of the Orange Revolution in the Ukraine, the Rose Revolution in Georgia. And they thought that’s it, so therefore we have to once and for all try and stop it.

Little did they know that this was an indigenous movement. When the people came out into the street, all they wanted – they didn’t want an overthrow of the regime on June 13th or 14th. They wanted their votes to be counted. And then gradually, you know, it turned into this mass movement which they can’t even contain today.

LYDEN: Last summer, Tajbakhsh was put on trial along with a hundred others. He was sentenced in October to 15 years in prison, and in November, he was hit with still more charges. His lawyer, Massoud Shafie, spent an hour and a half with Kian at the prison on Thursday and has seen his file. He says it contains video clips of public demonstrations that Tajbakhsh allegedly emailed. The lawyer says that’s certainly not espionage and that the charges against his client are baseless.

Mr. MASSOUD SHAFIE (Attorney): (Through translator) I have reviewed the file in detail. I believe from a legal standpoint there’s no correlation between the evidence in his file and the conviction and sentencing.

LYDEN: Still, Kian’s mother, Farideh Gueramy, says she’s optimistic that this will be over soon. Yet another irony: Kian Tajbakhsh is affiliated with Columbia University, the very institution that took so much heat over inviting a controversial guest to speak there in 2007. That was Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, president of Iran.

Now, students and professors are focusing their petitions, speeches and videos on their colleague.

Mr. MARK WIGLEY: I therefore respectfully but passionately urge that Kian Tajbakhsh should be released and returned to his academic community here at Columbia University.

LYDEN: And they have vowed to keep his name before the public.

Jacki Lyden, NPR News.

(Soundbite of music)

SIMON: To learn more…go to our Web site, NPR.org/soapbox.

You’re listening to WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News.”

[Full transcript]

Joint US-Canada statement on Kian and other Americans and Canadians detained in Iran (Source: US State Department)

By , September 26, 2009 4:05 pm

United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Canadian Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon issued a joint statement calling on Iran to safely and rapidly return Kian and all detained and missing foreign citizens to their respective countries:

“Canada and the United States are deeply concerned about the continued detention of Canadian and American citizens, including dual nationals, inside Iran and once again urge Iran’s leadership to positively resolve these cases as a humanitarian gesture and in accordance with their obligations under international conventions. Individuals in detention include Iranian-Canadian journalist Maziar Bahari; Iranian-American scholar Kian Tajbakhsh; retired Iranian-American businessman Reza Taghavi; and American hikers Joshua Fattal, Shane Bauer, and Sarah Shourd. American Robert Levinson has also been missing in Iran since March 2007.

We call on the Government of Iran to provide American and Canadian detainees with immediate consular access, full legal rights and protection, and a complete and transparent account of the charges against them.

As we have stated in the past, we fully respect the sovereignty of Iran. At the same time, we seek the safe and rapid return of all detained and missing citizens in Iran to their respective countries so that they might be reunited with their families.”

[Link to statement]
[Link to September 25 State Department press briefing by Spokesman Ian Kelly]

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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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

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