Prisoners In Iran

After the Iranian elections in June, there was lots of attention paid to alleged (and probably real) voting  irregularities. There was widespread outrage at  how demonstrations were held and a number of people were killed. The situation was probably as volatile as it had been in Iran in the last 30 years. Since things have quietened a bit, attention has perhaps drifted away. Methinks it is time for it to drift back.

We have just  obtained the release  of American journalists held in North Korea when we learn about 3 Americans being held in Iran. These three were tourists hiking in the Kurdish area of  Iraq, near the Iraq-Iran border. The  three were freelance journalist Shane Bauer as well as  his companions  Sara Shourd and Josh Fattal. One might wonder why travel in such an area  even though it is known for its beautiful waterfalls. But, one could just as easily ask, why not?

The United States  has asked the Swiss embassy in Tehran for assistance and is betting more direct help from Iraqi officials. In fact, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar  Zebari has met in recent days with ith Iranian minister to Iraq. He is hopefully optimistic that  the three will be released. Of course, Iran is accusing the three of espionage which we deny. This incident  seems to mirror one from May of this year in which an  American   journalist   charged with espionage was released.

One can hope that a similar scenario will play out in this case. One other worrisome event is a complicating factor. There are”trials” going on now in which individuals are  ” confessing” their wrongs in what are at best show trials, aimed at proving foreign involvement in the Iranian elections. An Iranian court has charged dozens of people with  spying and plotting to overthrow the government. Obviously, the hardliners who run Iran have virtually no interest in reconciling with anyone at the present time.

One thing that has occurred. They have antagonised virtually the entire European Union.  One can hardly imagine the following  words coming      from a French political leader. “France renews its demand for the release of the young academic, since the accusations against her are baseless. ” So said te French Foreign Ministry regarding  French citizen and teaching assistant  Clotilde Reiss. But we wish them success as well as for our own citizens.


August 9, 2009 - Posted by | International politics | , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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