Posts tagged: Dr. Kian Tajbakhsh

Message of thanks from Kian

By , January 31, 2016 3:55 am

Dear Friends,
I would like to thank all those family members and friends – official and unofficial – who expended great effort over the course of many years to help resolve my case, finally allowing us to leave Iran for the US.

I would like to thank the US and Swiss governments for their tremendous diplomatic efforts and support.

In particular, I would like to thank my friend Pamela Kilpadi, who launched a formidable campaign in my defense and worked persistently year after year to coordinate and facilitate various efforts on my behalf.

My oldest friend, Andrew Parker, did not hesitate to offer help at critical moments.

President Lee Bollinger of Columbia University has been a source of steadfast support, as have colleagues at Columbia and The New School.

I look forward to getting back to work in academia and rebuilding a life in the US.


The family requests that all media respect their privacy during this time of private reunion and celebration.

Kian and family in the USA

Kian and family in Phoenix, Arizona (Jan. 30)

Departure from Iran!

By , January 29, 2016 3:28 am

We are thrilled to report that Kian, his wife Bahar and daughter Hasti received their travel papers in the days leading up to January 16th, and were able to leave Iran on January 28th!


Kian and Hasti on the plane


خانواده کیان تاجبخش به شدت اتهامات محاکمه نمایشی را رد میکند
Farsi translation of public statement by Kian’s family and friends vehemently denying charges lodged against him in mass show trial covered by Iranian news

By , August 4, 2009 2:09 pm


Kian Tajbakhshخانواده کیان تاجبخش به شدت اتهامات محاکمه نمایشی را رد میکند

دکنر کیان تاجبخش یکی از متهمان محاکمه نمایشی است که هم اکنون در ایران در جریان است. دکتر تاجبخش در ساعت 9 شب 18 تیر – 9 جولای – در مقابل همسر و دختر خرد سالش دستگیر شد و تا کنون در محل نا معلومی و بدون دسترسی به وکیل مدافع, خانواده و دوستان زندانی است.

دستکیری دکتر تاجبخش اولین بار توسط تلویزیون رسمی و انگلیسی زبان جمهوری اسلامی – پرس تی وی – در روز 22 تیر – 13 جولای – 4 روز بعد از بازداشتش اعلام شد. در این خبر اتهام وی همکاری با حسین رسام رئیس بخش امنیت سیاسی سفارت انگلیس در تهران اعلام شد. حسین رسام اکنون با دادن وثیقه مالی آزاد شده.

خانواده دکتر تاجبخش و دوستان و صدها اضا کننده درخواستنامه آزادی ایشان به شدت اتهاماتی که دولت احمدی نژاد بر وی وارد کرده را رد میکنند. آنها قبلا نیز در بیانیه ای هشدار داده بودند که دستگیری کیان در واقع تمهیدی برای بدست آوردن اقرار نامه دروغین از راه قهر آمیز و برای استفاده در دادگاه های نمایشی است. در آن بیانیه گفته شده بود که ” این گونه سخنان عموما در زیر شکنجه بدست آمده و تنها برای استفاده در محاکمه های نمایشی تلویزیونی است.”

خانواده دکتر تاجبخش از دیدن عکس های او که توسط آژانس رسمی خبری فارس در روز شنبه 10 مرداد چاپ شد بسیار متاثراند چون این عکس ها نمایانگر فشار جسمی و روانی شدیدی است که در این 23 روز بر کیان وارد شده.

دکتر کیان تاجبخش جامعه شناس طراح شهر محقق و نویسنده فارغ التحصیل دانشگاه کلمبیا در شهر نیویورک است. تا قبل از برگشت به ایران دکتر تاجبخش استاد جامعه شناسی در دانشکده تحقیقات اجتماعی در نیویورک New School بود . فعالیتهای تحقیقی وی همواره در پس زمینه بیطرفی سیاسی و در روند ایجاد پلی برای نزدیک کردن فرهنگها است.

برای اطلاعات بیشتر در سایت کیان به ما بپیوندید. آدرس سایت

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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.

Columbia University President Lee Bollinger calls for the release of Dr. Kian Tajbakhsh (Source: Columbia Spectator)

By , July 15, 2009 10:56 am

The Columbia Spectator, the daily newspaper of Columbia University and Morningside Heights, had an article about the arrest of Dr. Kian Tajbakhsh, an alumnus of Columbia University.

A brief excerpt of the article is shown below:

Kian Tajbakhsh, a scholar who earned his Ph.D. in urban planning from Columbia, has been detained in Iran once again, according to news reports and a New School Web site. The U.S. Department of State and University President Lee Bollinger are calling for his release.

Sources told CNN that during the Thursday night arrest, security forces took his computer and ravaged his home.

“We’re deeply concerned [about] reports that an Iranian-American scholar has been unjustly detained in Iran,” State Department spokesman Ian Kelly told reporters.

“We share the concerns expressed by the U.S. Department of State about the reported arrest of Kian Tajbakhsh and many others in Iran,” Bollinger said in a statement issued to Spectator. “We concur in urging his release from detention and express our heartfelt support for his family, friends and colleagues who are anxious over his wellbeing.”

Scholars, Analysts Held After Iran’s Disputed Election
(Source: NPR)

NPR aired an interview with Karim Sadjadpour (who analyzes Iranian affairs at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace) by Steve Inskeep on Morning Edition about the scholars and analysts held after the disputed election in Iran.

U.S. worried about American scholar detained in Iran
(Source: Washington Post)

By , July 13, 2009 5:29 pm

The Washington Post  had an article titled: ‘U.S. Worried about American scholar detained in Iran‘.

Below is an excerpt from that article:

Tajbakhsh, an Iranian American who holds a doctorate in urban planning from Columbia University, was arrested by Iranian authorities in May 2007, charged with spying and then released after more than four months in Tehran’s Evin prison.

It was not clear why Tajbakhsh was detained last week.

US Government Urges Iran’s Immediate Release of Kian Tajbakhsh

At the daily press briefing at the US State Department, the Department Spokesman was asked about Dr. Kian Tajbakhsh.
The transcript related to this questions is posted below.  (The full transcipt can be found here.)

Ian Kelly
Department Spokesman
Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC

July 13, 2009

QUESTION: Do you have any update at all on the Iranian American scholar who was detained last week?

MR. KELLY: Yes, we’re deeply concerned of reports that an Iranian American scholar has been unjustly detained in Iran. Due to Privacy Act considerations, we’re not able to comment on the details of his arrest and imprisonment. It’s unfortunate that the Iranian Government is making choices that only serve to isolate Iran from the international community. We urge the Iranian authorities to immediately release Kian Tajbakhsh as well as return the passports of all Americans being kept in Iran on groundless charges.

NIAC Calls for the Release of Kian Tajbakhsh, an End to Political Detentions and Abuse

The National Iranian American Council condemned the arrest of Dr. Kian Tajbakhsh and called for his release .

The full text of the press release is as follows:

The National Iranian American Council (NIAC) condemns the arrest and imprisonment of Kian Tajbakhsh, an Iranian-American intellectual who was taken from his home in Iran and jailed late last Thursday. NIAC calls for his release and the immediate release of all those who have been arrested and detained for demonstrating in the weeks following Iran’s disputed presidential election.

“Tajbakhsh’s recent arrest is part of an ongoing effort by the government of Iran to silence dissent,” said NIAC President Trita Parsi, “and it shows the Iranian government’s continued disregard for the basic rights of its people in the wake of last month’s election.” NIAC has condemned the use of violence and political detentions against demonstrators in Iran, and called for a new election as the only plausible way to end the turmoil.

Tajbakhsh was not involved in the current demonstrations, but had been arrested in 2007 along with four other dual citizens on charges of trying to foment a ‘velvet revolution’ against the Islamic Republic. He spent four months in Tehran’s Evin Prison before his was released. Following his release in 2007, he remained in Iran and deliberately avoided politics, his friends and family members say. Tajbakhsh, a Columbia University graduate, taught urban policy at the New School for Social Research in New York City from 1994 until 2001.

According to the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, over 240 other prominent Iranian lawyers, activists, journalists, professors, human rights defenders and students have been arrested without charge, and have been taken to undisclosed locations since the demonstrations began.  NIAC has also received many reports of detainees in Iran’s prisons being mistreated, including prisoners being tortured and raped.

NIAC calls on the Iranian government to restore basic human and legal rights to its prisoners, including a halt to torture and guaranteed access to legal representation in accordance with the Iranian constitution.

Online petition setup by New School for Social Research

The New School for Social Research has setup an online petition for the release of Dr. Kian Tajbakhsh on their website.
Please sign their petition. (Don’t forget that we have an online petition as well.)

Below is an excerpt from their petition:

… We strongly deplore and condemn his detention and persecution of Dr. Kian Tajbakhsh and call upon all international organizations, academic and professional associations, and other groups and individuals devoted to the promotion and defense of human rights to strongly protest and condemn his arbitrary detention, to call for his immediate and unconditional release, and to 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.

Immediate Release of Dr. Kian Tajbakhsh Demanded
(Source: CPDI – Pakistan)

The Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives in Pakistan (CPDI-Pakistan) has demanded the immediate release of Dr. Tajbakhsh.

The CPDI- Pakistan Press Release is as follows:

Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives (CPDI) expresses its serious concern on the arrest of a leading scholar and social scientist, Dr. Kian Tajbakhsh, who was arrested by the Iranian authorities on July 9, 2009. It demands the Iranian authorities to immediately release Dr. Tajbakhsh, who has closely worked with many experts and organizations, like CPDI, on issues related to social development and governance in Pakistan. He has clearly been arrested arbitrarily and without any moral or legal justification.

The violation of basic human rights anywhere must be resisted and challenged by human rights activists everywhere; and it is in this spirit that the civil society organizations in Pakistan must speak out openly and loudly against the arbitrary detention of Dr. Tajnakhsh.

Reportedly, the Iranian security officials arrested Dr. Tajbakhsh from his residence in Tehran on July 9, 2009. The officials questioned him and his wife and searched the residence for three hours, before taking him away along with two computers and other items. Since then, the family has no information about where he has been taken to.

Dr. Tajbakhsh is a leading scholar with an international reputation. He has published two widely praised books, The Promise of the City: Space, Identity and Politics in Contemporary Social Thought (
University of California Press, 2001) and Social Capital: Trust, Democracy and Development (published in Persian, 2005). He has published over 20 articles in leading scholarly journals and delivered lectures at major international conferences on urban planning, public health, and municipal government. Throughout the course of his career, Dr. Tajbakhsh has earned a reputation as a distinguished and respected scholar throughout the Middle East, South Asia, Europe, and the United States.

In addition to his academic career, Dr. Tajbakhsh has worked as a consultant for several organizations including Iran’s Municipalities Organization, the Social Security Organization, and international organizations such as the World Bank, the Open Society Institute and the Dutch Association of Municipalities. He spent four months in Evin prison in 2007 after being falsely accused along with three other Iranian-Americans of endangering national security. Recently he has been researching and writing several books and spending time with his family and first child, born in 2007.

It is difficult to imagine why a brilliant scholar and friend like Dr. Tajbakhsh would be targeted by the Iranian regime.

Rule of Law Program
Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives (CPDI), Islamabad

U.S. Citizen Living in Tehran Said to Be Arrested
(Source: Time/CNN)

By , July 12, 2009 5:48 pm

Time/CNN posted an article written by Robin Wright on Dr. Kian Tajbakhsh’s arrest in Tehran.

The Time/CNN article is posted below:

Iran’s political upheaval has claimed its first American, with the arrest on July 9 of Kian Tajbakhsh, an Iranian American living in Tehran, according to an Iranian human-rights group and family friends.

As part of the latest security sweep designed to end nationwide protests against the disputed June 12 presidential election, Tajbakhsh was picked up from his home late Thursday following a day of renewed demonstrations, according to Hadi Ghaemi of the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. His computer equipment was confiscated and his home ransacked, Ghaemi said. 

Tajbakhsh, 47, was not involved in the protests, the sources said, but the Columbia University graduate had been among four dual citizens arrested in 2007 on charges of trying to foment a “velvet revolution” against the Islamic regime. He spent four months in Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison before his release. Tajbakhsh, an urban-planning expert, taught urban policy at the New School for Social Research in New York City from 1994 until 2001. Before his arrest in 2007, he had served as an adviser to the Iranian Ministry of Health and been a consultant for George Soros’ Open Society Institute.

The regime has repeatedly charged that the recent unrest is a plot by foreign powers, particularly Britain, to orchestrate an uprising against the theocracy. On the eve of the pivotal vote, Supreme Leader Ayatullah Ali Khamenei expressed concern about a “soft” or “velvet” revolution, the term originally used to describe the 1989 overthrow of the communist regime in Czechoslovakia. 

The head of the country’s Revolutionary Guards political division also charged that supporters of opposition presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi were part of the plot. “Any kind of velvet revolution will not be successful in Iran,” he warned in a comment on the website of the Guards, the élite wing of Iran’s military created to protect the revolution.

The detention is being widely condemned. In Washington, Haleh Esfandiari, who also was detained in Iran in 2007, said the regime’s “paranoia regarding a so-called velvet revolution planned from the outside and assisted from the inside has gotten out of control.”

Esfandiari, director of the Middle East Program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, said Iran’s Intelligence Ministry “keeps trying to prove the unprovable.” Esfandiari was released after a show of public pressure by then Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton as well as a letter to Khamenei from former Congressman Lee Hamilton, the president of the Wilson Center and co-chair of both the Iraq Study Group and the 9/11 Commission. 

After his release from prison, Tajbakhsh opted to stay and work in Iran, where his family lives, and deliberately avoided politics, friends say. “Kian knew his activities were being closely monitored by the government ever since his release from prison in 2007, so he was very careful not to give them any pretext to re-arrest him,” said Karim Sadjadpour, a fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington and a close friend who has talked with his family.

The regime may be trying to implicate the U.S. in the unrest, analysts say. “What’s significant is the fact that he was taken by the Revolutionary Guards and that he is, as far as we know, the first U.S. citizen to be detained. I think it’s very plausible that Iran’s hard-liners are trying to draw the United States into this,” Sadjadpour said.

The Iranian human-rights group said Tajbakhsh joins more than 240 other prominent Iranian lawyers, activists, journalists, professors, human-rights defenders and students detained without warrants and taken to undisclosed locations since the unrest began almost a month ago. “These detainees are being held in incommunicado detention and the authorities have refused to provide any information regarding charges against them or their condition to their families,” Ghaemi said in a statement.

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