October 22, 2009

NIAC Condemns Prison Sentence for Iranian American Scholar

Washington DC – The National Iranian American Council (NIAC) condemns the Iranian Justice Ministry’s decision to sentence Iranian American Kian Tajbakhsh to 12 years in prison. On July 9, Mr. Tajbakhsh, a scholar of urban planning, was arrested at his home in Iran.

Mr. Tajbakhsh appeared at the mass trial of accused opposition leaders following the unrest of the highly questionable June 12 election. He was accused of contacting foreign agents and promoting activities dangerous to the government. During the trial, Mr. Tajbakhsh provided a vague confession which rights groups suspect was coerced, and which outlined his role in fomenting resistance to the June election in Iran.

NIAC stands behind the efforts of the United States to secure the release of Mr. Tajbakhsh, and strongly urges the Obama administration to intensify its efforts until Tajbakhsh’s rights are respected and upheld.

According to Amnesty International, many of the individuals charged alongside Mr. Tajbakhsh were not given adequate access to legal representation during their trial, and were intimidated into giving confessions that were the basis for their sentences. Thus far, the few other figures who have been convicted in the mass trial have received sentences of 5-6 years maximum. 

NIAC holds that the conviction and sentencing of Mr. Tajbakhsh and the post-election trials are an affront to universal principles of justice. Over the past few months, the current government in Iran has violated the human rights of its citizens in direct conflict with its obligations under international law and the Iranian constitution. NIAC is deeply concerned that the Iranian government is targeting foreign nationals for political reasons. 

The Iranian-American community is gravely concerned about the state of human rights in Iran since the violent crackdown on post-election protests this summer. Iranian Americans are united in their desire for the Iranian government to uphold its international obligations, including respect for freedom of speech, assembly and association under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. NIAC welcomes the release of journalist Maziar Bahari, and calls on the Iranian government to release all those still in detention for peacefully expressing their beliefs. 

NIAC calls on the Obama administration to address this issue during talks with Iranian government.




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