Posts tagged: Iran

Free Expression Groups Call on Iran to Open Door to UN Rights Experts (Source: PEN)

By , March 12, 2010 10:36 am

A coalition of international nongovernmental organizations led by the Committee to Protect Journalists are highlighting the urgency of Kian’s case and that of other writers, journalists and publishers, noting that some 47 journalists are currently in prison in Iran – more than any other country on earth has imprisoned at any one time since 1996:

“Geneva—Organizations supporting journalists, writers and publishers in Iran have called on Tehran officials to open the door to the United Nations’ special rapporteurs on human rights, including its expert on freedom of expression, Frank la Rue.

Resisting calls here for an international investigation into post-election abuses of human rights in Iran, Tehran’s envoy Mohammad Javad Larijani told both diplomats and the media on Monday that there was a “standing invitation” for the UN’s special rapporteurs to visit Iran and investigate claims of rights abuse—only to reverse his position today.

The rapporteurs should be allowed to visit the country at the earliest opportunity, said representatives of the “Our Society Will Be a Free Society” campaign, in Geneva to observe the UN Human Rights Council’s review of Iran’s record this week…

“Mr la Rue and the other UN rapporteurs should not be prevented by the Iranian government from making their own independent assessment of the situation,” said Alexis Krikorian of the International Publishers Association. “The UN rapporteurs should go to Iran as soon as possible. Certainly we should hear their reports before the UN even starts to consider Iran’s bid to become a member of the Human Rights Council this May.”

Addressing the hearing before the 47-nation Council’s quadrennial Universal Periodic Review (UPR) procedure, Larijani said Iran was in “full compliance with the relevant international commitments it has taken on in a genuine and long-term approach to safeguard human rights.”

UN human rights experts have already voiced concerns about mass arrests and the abuse of opposition supporters, clerics, journalists, students and others, said Rohan Jayasekera of Index on Censorship, “But independent investigation on the ground is crucial.”

The Council’s working group report on Iran, which included concerns raised by diplomats and human rights groups, was adopted at noon in Geneva on Wednesday, following Iran’s grilling by other nations at the UN on Monday.

“The UN should have been able to mark Iranian New Year this year by announcing a programme of visits to Iran by its human rights rapporteurs,” said Jayasekera. “Instead today Iran repudiated its international obligations on human rights and further underlined its unsuitability for a seat on the UN Human Rights Council.”

Freedom of expression and peaceful assembly continue to be undermined by the Iranian regime and human rights defenders face an increasingly precarious situation, said six of the rapporteurs in a statement last year.

The rapporteurs questioned the legal basis for the arrests of journalists, human rights defenders, opposition supporters and demonstrators, saying it was unclear and gave rise to fears of “arbitrary detentions of individuals legitimately exercising their right to freedom of expression, opinion and assembly.”

The statement was issued by: Manuela Carmena Castrillo, Chairperson-Rapporteur of the Working Group on arbitrary detention; Philip Alston, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; Frank la Rue, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression; Manfred Nowak, Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; Margaret Sekaggya, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders; and Santiago Corcuera, Chairperson-Rapporteur of the working group on enforced and involuntary disappearances.

The list of prisoners of conscience currently held in Iranian prisons includes some of Iran’s most distinguished journalists, some of the country’s leading bloggers, and Kian Tajbakhsh, an Iranian-American scholar sentenced in August 2009…following a mass trial of 140 activists, intellectuals, and writers accused of fomenting a “velvet revolution.”

Among the journalists are Emadeddin Baghi, also a well known author and human rights defender; Mashallah Shamsolvaezin, an award-winning editor and press freedom advocate; and Shiva Nazar Ahari, a human rights journalist who has been jailed twice in the last eight months. The Committee to Protect Journalists this month announced that the 47 journalists now in prison in Iran are more than any other country on earth has imprisoned at any one time since 1996.”

[Link to full article]

Politics of Resistance Conference (Source: New School for Social Research)

The New School for Social Research in New York City, where Kian served as a professor for many years, organized a conference on February 12 dedicated to Kian, entitled “Iran: Politics of Resistance.” The full conference proceedings are now available online here.

Numerous speakers were featured, for example including Kian’s former colleague Ramin Jahanbegloo and Hadi Ghaemi of the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.

[Link to full conference]

Iran: The Politics of Resistance (Source: New School for Social Research)

By , February 10, 2010 1:46 pm

A conference dedicated to Kian entitled “Iran: The Politics of Resistance” is scheduled to be held at the New School in New York City this Friday, Febraury 12.

[Conference program]

Joint EU-US Statement Calling on the Iranian Government to Fulfill Its Human Rights Obligations (Source: White House)

By , February 8, 2010 1:29 pm

On the advance of expected protests in Iran on February 11, the United States White House and European Union have issued a statement calling on Iran to respect human rights:

“The United States and the European Union condemn the continuing human rights violations in Iran since the June 12 election. The large scale detentions and mass trials, the threatened execution of protestors, the intimidation of family members of those detained and the continuing denial to its citizens of the right to peaceful expression are contrary to human rights norms.

Our concerns are based on our commitment to universal respect for human rights. We are particularly concerned by the potential for further violence and repression during the coming days, especially around the anniversary of the Islamic Republic’s founding on 11 February. We call on the Government of Iran to live up to its international human rights obligations, to end its abuses against its own people, to hold accountable those who have committed the abuses and to release those who are exercising their rights.”

[Link to statement]

Iran puts 16 protesters on trial (Source: Associated Press)

By , January 31, 2010 7:11 am

AP writer Nasser Karimi mentioned Kian in his summary of Iran’s latest show trial:

“TEHRAN – Iran put 16 opposition supporters detained during anti-government protests last month on trial Saturday on charges of rioting and conspiring against the ruling system, Iran’s state media reported…

The new prosecutions, coupled with the execution on Thursday of two men accused of involvement in anti-government groups, could mark an attempt by Iran’s hardline leaders to intimidate the opposition ahead of a new round of street demonstrations expected in February…

The protesters have presented Iran’s cleric-led establishment with its biggest challenge since the 1979 revolution despite a brutal crackdown that has left hundreds imprisoned…

During previous mass trials in Iran, many human rights groups have cautioned that..confessions are often made under duress in Iran…

Iran’s hardline government has quashed opposition rallies and tried more than 100 political activists since August, sentencing 11 people to death and more than 80 people to prison terms ranging from six months to 15 years…

Iran held its first postelection mass trial in August, accusing more than 100 activists of plotting to overthrow the regime. Those prosecutions brought charges against some prominent reformist opposition politicians, including former Vice President Mohammad Ali Abtahi, former government spokesman Abdollah Ramezanzadeh and the leader of the biggest reformist party, the Islamic Iran Participation Front, Mohsen Mirdamadi.

There were also three foreign citizens — Iranian-American scholar Kian Tajbakhsh, Newsweek reporter Maziar Bahari, who holds Iranian and Canadian citizenship, and a 24-year-old French academic, Clotilde Reiss — among those on trial. Bahari has since been released on bail and has left the country.

Despite the crackdown, opposition activists have continued to hold sporadic, large street rallies. The opposition says Ahmadinejad’s victory in the June election was fraudulent and call for his removal — though some in the movement have expanded to criticize Iran’s clerical leadership.”

[Link to full article]

Faculty petition for Tajbakhsh’s release (Source: Columbia Spectator)

By , December 16, 2009 9:42 am

Over 150 Columbia University students and professors have publicized a letter lobbying for the release of Kian, a current Columbia faculty member:

“…Tajbakhsh, who was supposed to teach at Columbia’s School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation, was arrested this summer in Iran during the aftermath of the elections. He has also faced numerous charges of spying and being a threat to the national government.

“We hope to raise awareness about Kian’s case, and show our support for him as a member of our academic community and as a renowned scholar who has been falsely accused and unjustly imprisoned,” said a graduate student involved in the campaign who was granted anonymity for security reasons. “The charges are nonsense. Kian is a dedicated scholar, and someone who cares deeply about Iran. He has worked throughout his career to foster understanding between Iran and the rest of the world. I was looking forward to seeing him continue that work at Columbia this year, and it is terribly sad and frightening to know that he is in prison right now, instead of in a classroom here.”

“We, the undersigned faculty of Columbia University, call for the immediate and unconditional release of our colleague Dr. Kian Tajbakhsh,” the letter begins. It emphasizes his academic achievements and status as “an internationally recognized scholar who has taught at both American and Iranian universities.”

“Throughout his career, he has dedicated himself to fostering better understanding between the United States and Iran,” it states…

[Gary] Sick, a senior research scholar at the Middle East Institute of Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs, called the charges against Tajbakhsh “absurd … the best evidence of the underlying paranoia in the Iranian revolution government. They are persuaded that America is part of the revolution and trying to overthrow their government. They are looking for anybody that has associated with foreign government. … Some go to jail, others go to death,” he said.

“I have never been a CIA agent,” Sick added, stating that the accusation was invented by “an Iranian journalist or publisher.” He called it “disappointing” that there was “no effort to verify that it is true,” considering that “this is supposed to be a court case.”

“They can give you 15 years of jail for a rumor,” Sick said…”

[Link to article]

International human rights organizations appeal for the release of Kian Tajbakhsh; Amnesty launches Urgent Action Appeal (Sources: Amnesty International; International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran; Human Rights Watch)

By , November 4, 2009 6:03 am

Leading international human rights organizations are urging Iranian authorities to overturn the unjust 15-year prison sentence imposed on Kian by an extra-judicial court presiding over show trial proceedings.

Amnesty International has launched an Urgent Action Appeal letter-writing campaign calling for Kian’s release. Please take a moment to participate!

Amnesty International‘s Middle East and North Africa Programme Director Malcolm Smart, for example, states in the report “Iran must overturn sentences issued by post-election ‘show trial’” that:

“The ‘show trial’ that has so far led to the imprisonment of Kian Tajbakhsh and a number of other reformist politicians and journalists, as well as the imposition of at least four death sentences, was grossly unfair and a travesty of justice…

The authorities should welcome the part that intellectuals can play towards developing the political and social life of their country, instead of locking them up on spurious charges… It appears that Kian Tajbakhsh has been targetted on account of his dual nationality and his academic work, and we consider him a prisoner of conscience.”

In their report “Iranian-American Scholar Prevented From Filing an Appeal ,” International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran spokesperson Hadi Ghaemi emphasizes that:

“The Iranian Judiciary is blatantly trampling over its own rules and regulations. In doing so, the authorities are confirming that Tajbakhsh’s detention, trial and conviction are patently politically motivated… By treating the law in this arbitrary manner, they are also demonstrating that the rule of law means nothing in Iran.”

In “Iran: Overturn Death Sentences; Other Unfair Convictions,Human Rights Watch Middle East and North Africa Director Sarah Leah Whitson states:

“Death sentences following unfair trials expose the mockery of Iran’s judicial system… Those responsible need to quash these verdicts and sentences, and ensure that everyone detained, or put on trial, has free and regular access to a lawyer of their choosing.”

In “Why is the Iranian government so afraid of Kian Tajbakhsh?” Amnesty’s Human Rights Now researcher Elise Auerbach concludes:

“By attempting to portray Kian Tajbakhsh as an existential threat to the Islamic Republic and inflicting such a disproportionately harsh punishment on him, the Iranian authorities seem to be going to preposterous lengths to draw in as many elements of society as possible into a continually sucking vortex of fear and oppression.”

Iran’s Captives (Source: New York Times)

By , September 20, 2009 5:25 am

The editors of The New York Times are calling on Iran to release the five American citizens it has “unjustly and cruelly imprisoned”:

“Iranian diplomats are scheduled to sit down next month with diplomats from the United States and the other major powers. There is a lot to talk about, starting with Iran’s illicit nuclear program. Tehran is clearly eager to use the meeting to assert its rising influence and claim the respect it insists it has been too long denied.

The latter argument will be a tough sell, but if Iran’s leaders are truly serious about trying to change international and American opinion, they will have to start behaving like a responsible government. One immediate step they can take is to release the five American citizens they have unjustly and cruelly imprisoned.

Since July 31, Iran has been holding three American hikers who were seized along the Iran-Iraq border. Shane Bauer, Joshua Fattal and Sarah Shourd were hiking in the Kurdish region of Iraq and their relatives concede that they may have accidentally crossed into Iran. But there can be no justification for their imprisonment.

Iran must release Kian Tajbakhsh, an Iranian-American scholar… And it must free Robert Levinson, a former F.B.I. agent missing since 2007. It is also holding Maziar Bahari, the Newsweek correspondent and Canadian documentary filmmaker. Justice demands that he be released.

Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is scheduled to address the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday, where he, too, will inevitably demand more respect for his country. Amid the wreckage of rigged presidential elections, the brutal crackdown on critics and Mr. Ahmadinejad’s repeated Holocaust denials, Iran needs to free these prisoners and allow the world some hope.”

[The full editorial incorrectly reports that authorities have not confirmed Kian’s arrest]:

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.

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.

Statement from family and friends of Dr. Kian Tajbakhsh on his arrest in Iran

We are issuing this statement to draw your attention to the arrest in Iran of respected American Iranian scholar Dr. Kian Tajbakhsh.

At 9:00pm Tehran time on July 9, 2009, Iranian agents arrested Dr. Kian Tajbakhsh at his home in Tehran. Two people who identified themselves as Iranian security officials arrived at his residence in Tehran late Thursday. 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.

We have no information about where Kian was taken.

An American citizen, Dr. Tajbakhsh is a leading scholar with an international reputation. 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. He taught at the New School in New York City for seven years and remains a senior research fellow there. 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. Dr. Tajbakhsh has had a long affiliation with the Social Science Research Council (SSRC), the leading academic organization for social scientists in the United States. He has served as a Steering Committee Member for the SSRC’s Middle East and North Africa Program and contributed in significant ways to the SSRC’s academic projects. 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. Following his release he ended his association with the Open Society Institute. 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 Kian would be targeted by the Iranian regime. We strongly appeal for your help in revoking the decision to detain him and ensuring his safe return to his family.

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.

Kian Tajbakhsh: Iran Arrests First American Citizen

The Huffington Post posted an article written by Desmond Butler on Dr. Kian Tajbakhsh’s arrest in Tehran.

The Huffington Post article is posted below:

An Iranian-American scholar whom Iran once accused of fomenting political unrest has been arrested by authorities there for the second time in two years, the State Department and the man’s family said Friday.

Security forces arrested Kian Tajbakhsh late Thursday, a family member told The Associated Press. The relative was in contact with Tajbakhsh’s wife, who witnessed the arrest in Tehran.

State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley told reporters that the United States was aware of the arrest and was checking into the circumstances. He provided no further detail.

There was no comment from Iranian authorities. The relative spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because of concern that public comments could aggravate Tajbakhsh’s situation.

The arrest comes amid high political tension in Iran. Tehran has seen massive demonstrations following disputed June 12 presidential elections.

Opposition protests erupted again on Thursday in the capital, with marchers chanting “death to the dictator.” In some places, clashes erupted as police fired tear gas and charged demonstrators with batons.

Tajbakhsh, a social scientist and urban planner, spent four months in prison in 2007 on charges of endangering national security. He denied the allegations.

In the latest incident, two people who identified themselves as Iranian security officials arrived at his residence in Tehran late Thursday, Tajbakhsh’s family said. 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.

The family said that they have no information about where Tajbakhsh was taken.

Tajbakhsh was held by authorities in 2007 after being charged along with three other Iranian-Americans with endangering national security. Then, he was a consultant with the Soros Foundation’s Open Society Institute, an organization that Iran has accused of trying to undermine the Iranian government.

Tajbakhsh’s family says that he ended his association with the Open Society Institute after his earlier imprisonment.

Iran’s arrest of Iranian-American journalist Roxana Saberi in January on spying charges sparked tensions at a time that U.S. President Barack Obama was looking for openings to negotiate on Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Saberi was released in May ahead of the elections and returned to the United States.

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