Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Releasing detainees best option for Iranian government

Since early May, three Iranian-Americans have been held in solitary confinement at Tehran’s Evin prison: Haleh Esfandiari, the director of the Middle East program of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington; Kian Tajbakhsh, a social scientist and urban planner with the Open Society Institute in New York City; and Ali Shakeri, a founder of the Center for Citizen Peacebuilding at the University of California, Irvine.

Iran’s judiciary says it expects to announce a decision regarding the fate of these detainees this week or next. According to Shaul Bakhash, Esfandiari’s husband, the Iranian government has two choices—it can follow a typical, unproductive pattern of holding the detainees and obtaining an obviously coerced statement, or it can free the detainees and drop all charges, reminiscent of the recently arrested and released British sailors.

The “ominously familiar pattern” as Bakhash describes it begins with an arrest and outlandish charges. Next, there is damage control, in which a judiciary claims the detainees are in good health. Meanwhile, security officials “seem compelled to prove the arrests enabled them to uncover ‘networks’ and expose ‘subversives’” and angle for false confessions.

According to Bakhash, however, Iran does not have to repeat this “sorry charade”—it could follow the “admittedly untypical” model it adopted in March when 15 British sailors and marines were arrested and released within two weeks.

For the full article, click here .


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