Why is the Iranian government so afraid of Kian Tajbakhsh? To all appearances, the 47-year-old Iranian-American is a mild-mannered social scientist who taught urban policy at the New School University in New York. He was living quietly in Tehran with his Iranian wife and baby daughter and working on a book when he was arrested on July 9.
So why was he just convicted by a Revolutionary Court in Tehran and sentenced to up to 15 years in prison? Judging from the list of charges piled up against him and the long prison term imposed, one would think he was one dangerous fellow, single-mindedly bent on overturning the Iranian government, working with foreign enemies to undermine Iranian society, and sowing mass chaos. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
Yesterday a coalition of 18 leading human rights organizations including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the Open Society Institute launched a call for the establishment of a non-partisan commission of eminent persons to investigate and examine the detention, treatment, and transfer of detainees following the 9/11 attacks.
The call was backed by former FBI Director William Sessions, Major General Antonio Taguba who headed the military investigations into the abuses at Abu Ghraib, former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Thomas Pickering, Juan Mendez, President of the International Center for Transitional Justice, and the President of the United Church of Christ Dr. John Thomas.
Former FBI Director Sessions commented:
“The president has a responsibility to protect and defend Americans and unfortunately, many questions remain unanswered as to whether the detention, transfer, and treatment of detainees following the September 11th attacks were in the country’s best interest. We need to understand what happened and how to prevent any illegal actions form taking place in the future.”
The United States used to inspire the world as a beacon for human rights. The U.S. championed the international rule of law and pressed other countries in Latin America, Europe and Africa to bring human rights abusers to account for their actions. The past eight years have greatly damaged America’s image in the world. We need to repair than damage by showing that we hold ourselves to the same standards that we hold other nations.