NIAC condemns arrest of Iranian American scholars
Contact: Trevor FitzGibbon
Washington DC – The National Iranian American Council condemns the imprisonment of respected social scientist Kian Tajbakhsh by Iranian authorities on May 11 and calls for his immediate release. Tajbakhsh is the fourth individual with dual US-Iranian citizenship to be detained in the last few weeks by the Iranian government.
Dr. Haleh Esfandiari of the Woodrow Wilson Center was sent to Evin prison on May 8, 2007.
"These arbitrary detentions and backsliding in the general human rights situation are undoubtedly attempts to derail progress toward diplomacy with the US," says Trita Parsi, President of the National Iranian American Council. "Certain hard line factions within the Iranian government greatly benefit from the nation's current state of diplomatic isolation, and have now demonstrated the lengths they will go to in order to maintain the status quo."
Tehran and Washington are scheduled to hold much anticipated talks in Baghdad on Monday on the issue of the future of Iraq.
Tajbakhsh is widely respected as a social scientist and has advised several Iranian ministries in the past. He has been involved in various humanitarian projects in Iran, including providing relief after the 2003 Bam earthquake-at Tehran's request.
The recent arrest of Iranian Americans is causing great concern in a community that cherishes the ability to visit Iran and maintain close contacts with family and friends there despite the tense political situation between the two countries.
"The Iranian government's decision to incarcerate individuals as widely respected for their academic and humanitarian work as Esfandiari and Tajbakhsh is deeply disturbing," says Dokhi Fassihian, a Board member of the Council. "NIAC forcefully rejects the targeting of Iranian-American social scientists. Our community continues to call for a peaceful resolution of tensions between the two countries and demands that Iran halt the severe deterioration of human rights gripping the country."