Official statements

 

 

MEDIA RELEASE - NAMAZIS FILE APPEALS WITH IRANIAN SUPREME COURT AND UN SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR ON THE INDEPENDENCE OF JUDGES AND LAWYERS

August 28, 2018

Washington, D.C. – Iranian counsel to imprisoned U.S. citizens Baquer and Siamak Namazi have now lodged an appeal with the Iranian Supreme Court in response to a July 2018 complaint filed by the Government of Iran with the International Court of Justice (ICJ).  The ICJ complaint alleges that the U.S., in re-imposing sanctions on Iran following its withdrawal from the JCPOA, violated the terms of the 1955 Treaty of Amity, Economic Relations, and Consular Rights, or the “Treaty of Amity,” between the two countries.

Iranian government officials have repeatedly reaffirmed the validity and applicability of the bilateral Treaty of Amity.  On August 25, 2018, Laya Joneydi, Iran’s Vice President for Legal Affairs, stated: “The Treaty of Amity, [which was] signed in 1955, remains valid . . . as neither the U.S. nor Iran have formally declared their withdrawal [from the Treaty].”  In addition to the July 2018 complaint, Iran has invoked the Treaty of Amity on multiple other occasions, including in its 2016 complaint to the ICJ challenging U.S. court judgments fining Iran billions of dollars for its involvement in terrorism.

Given the Treaty of Amity, the Namazis’ appeal argues their convictions cannot legally stand because they were convicted for collaborating with the U.S., a “hostile” state.  Yet, Article I of the Treaty of Amity says “[t]here shall be firm and enduring peace and sincere friendship between the United States of America and Iran.”  Furthermore, in a ruling in a case identical to the Namazis’ in 2014, Iran’s Supreme Court explicitly stated that “no government [including the United States] is in a state of hostility with Iran” and that “political differences” are not sufficient to classify a state as “hostile.”  It reversed the conviction of an Iranian under the very same law under which the Namazis were convicted because it found the U.S. could not be properly classified as a hostile state.

In addition, international counsel to the Namazis earlier today also filed a complaint with Diego García-Sayan, UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers.  It requests that he begin an investigation into the Namazis’ detention emphasizing that (1) Iran’s reliance and recognition of the Treaty of Amity prevents it from legally sustaining the conviction of the Namazis, and (2) the judiciary in Iran clearly cannot be independent or impartial because it was the very same judge and appeals court in the 2014 case whose finding that the U.S. was a hostile state had been reversed.  Thus, in light of Iran’s affirmation of the validity of the Treaty of Amity as well as the Supreme Court prior precedent, those courts should have no choice but to acquit the Namazis.

Jared Genser, international counsel to the Namazis, stated:

“We expect that, given the Government of Iran’s confirmation of the validity of the Treaty of Amity, the Iranian Supreme Court will overturn the Namazis’ conviction.  Iran cannot, on the one hand, invoke the Treaty of Amity when filing complaints against the U.S. with the ICJ, and then, on the other, classify the U.S. as a “hostile” government in order to sustain these convictions.  Should Iran’s Supreme Court choose to uphold the Namazis’ convictions, it will in effect negate the Iranian government’s assertion about the validity of the Treaty of Amity – which would seriously undermine its claims the ICJ has jurisdiction to hear Iran’s complaints against the United States and could lead to the ICJ dismissing these complaints.”

Unfortunately, it is impossible to predict when or if Iran’s Supreme Court will rule on the Namazis’ appeal, though in response to the complaint filed to the UN, under its ordinary procedures, a letter should be sent to Iran in the coming weeks asking for its response to the allegations made in the submission.

Contact:
Jared Genser
jgenser@perseus-strategies.com
+1 (202) 320-4135

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BABAK NAMAZI'S STATEMENT ON THE SECOND ANNIVERSARY OF HIS FATHER'S INCARCERATION

February 22, 2018

Today marks the second anniversary and 712 horrific days since the unjust arrest and unlawful detention of my father, Baquer Namazi.
I had many hopes for today not marking such an occasion. I had other hopes…
Hope that my entire family, including my innocent brother Siamak Namazi who has spent over 2.5 years in cruel and illegal captivity, was again reunited and celebrating life together.
Hope that we are mending broken hearts.
Hope that we are somehow re-building so much that has been broken and lost.
Hope that we have learned to laugh again.
Hope that reason has prevailed and such gruesome injustice towards two of the purest human beings has at last ended.
Hope that humanity has finally triumphed over all that’s evil and light over darkness.
Hope that given my father’s deteriorating health he is already released permanently.
But today, this is not to be.
Today, to my horror I see that my father’s health continues its downward spiral towards a tragic end…hospitalization after hospitalization….
Today, I wonder how anyone can cause so much pain on other human beings… learning only recently of the true horrors my innocent father and specially Siamak have endured in captivity and officials turning blind eyes and deaf ears.
But I have not lost hope…far from it.
Today, like every day, I continue, along with hundreds, no thousands of others in the fight for justice remaining convinced more than ever that humanity will prevail…a thought that has been enshrined in me by my father, my hero.
Today, I am heartened and draw strength from the hundreds upon hundreds of my father’s UNICEF colleagues that as I write this are standing in solidarity – as they have from day one – with my father from all corners of the world and posting messages of support on this dreadful day... as well as countless others who are relentlessly and unconditionally doing so much and will not stop until my innocent father and brother are set free.
Today, tomorrow, the next day...and the next…I continue…we continue.
Light over darkness….

-Babak Namazi 

 

PRESS CONFERENCE, VIENNA, AUSTRIA

April 25, 2017

"I am here in Vienna today, as a desperate son and brother to bring to life for the international community and to put human faces onto the enormous suffering of my dearest father Baquer Namazi and my brother Siamak Namazi. I am here today because I fear that unless something is done quickly I may not see them again, ever. I am here as it is my duty – as the only able son and brother – to do all I can for those dearest in life to me.

Baquer and Siamak Namazi are Iranian-Americans who have each been unfairly arrested, tried, convicted, and sentenced to 10 years in prison for “collaborating with a hostile government,” the United States of America. They are being unjustly detained in Iran’s notorious Evin Prison by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. It would have been an unimaginable nightmare to merely have two members of my family be hostages of the Government of Iran. But my family’s suffering has been compounded by the intense, unrelenting, cruel, and inhumane treatment imposed on both of them such that today, I do not know if they will still be alive in the coming months.

I beg the Government of Iran to release Siamak and my father on humanitarian grounds. It’s enough, please let them go. They are completely innocent of the charges on which they have been convicted. They are patriots who love both their countries and who have only ever wanted to improve relations between the people of the United States and of Iran and help the Iranian people.

It causes my family unrelenting and enormous pain to see how their bodies, minds, and spirits have been crushed in Evin Prison. But despite all of the cruelty that we have witnessed, it is not too late. I urge the Iranian government to step back before either my father or brother – or both of them – die in their custody. All the signs suggest, as I will describe in much greater detail, that this is an outcome whose likelihood is increasing by the day.

Not only would my family be devastated and unconsolable, but this result would, I fear, escalate an already fragile situation between the United States and Iran thereby also driving our peoples further apart in the process. Ironically, both my father and brother have spent their lives trying to foster mutual cooperation and understanding between our peoples.

I am here in Vienna today because it the first day of bilateral discussions between the Trump Administration and the Government of Iran regarding implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA – also known as the nuclear deal. But that is not the only item that will be on the agenda. I have been told by Trump Administration that the United States will directly raise the ongoing unjust imprisonment of my father and brother to the Iranian delegation.

I was very encouraged to hear this, just as I was encouraged in October 2016 to hear then candidate-for President Donald Trump, in response to Siamak and my father’s wrongful convictions, say “This doesn’t happen if I am president!” I am counting on the President to take personal responsibility for the lives of my father and brother and to act urgently in the face of their rapidly declining health and welfare.

As I noted earlier, Siamak and my father are being detained in Iran’s notorious Evin Prison, in a wing under the exclusive control of Revolutionary Guards. This prison is infamous for its systematic use of torture and degrading treatment, and the special wing where my father and brother are being held is known to operate outside the law and with no semblance of transparency or legality. Even the judiciary system has no control over their actions. We have been told by the judiciary that they have issued instructions repeatedly to move Siamak to a better cell and to allow my father and Siamak to regularly visit each other. These instructions are however regularly disregarded with impunity.

My brother, Siamak, has experienced the worst of Evin Prison in the 18 months that he has been detained there and for reasons beyond comprehension singled out for even harsher treatment. He has been continually subjected to lengthy interrogations, which have persisted even after his conviction. He is held in a dark, humid cell that lacks even a bed to sleep on, forcing him to sleep on the concrete floor. And most of his time in that cell has been spent in solitary confinement.

The Revolutionary Guards have to my horror tortured, beaten, and tased him, in addition to subjecting him to psychological torture. It seems that they are doing everything they can to push Siamak over the edge, and in recent months, it is clear they are succeeding.

The suffering intentionally inflicted on Siamak, combined with his extended isolation, have caused his mental and physical wellbeing to deteriorate rapidly. He went on a hunger strike at one point and has lost more than 12 kilograms during his detention. He is severely depressed – and even more so since his conviction. The few conversations I have been able to have with Siamak scare me to death and keep me up at night. He feels that he has nothing left to live for and the taking of matters in his own hands which he repeated again just a few days ago. Every second of every day, I fear the worst may happen.

Meanwhile our father, Baquer Namazi, is 80-years-old and has serious heart conditions and has also been put in solitary confinement for part of his detention. Prior to his detention, he had undergone a triple bypass surgery and was having regular follow-up appointments with a heart specialist regarding arrythmia. He was taking a half dozen medications a day for his various ailments and was told that he may need a pacemaker.

Now, he is completely cut off from his doctor and we have no idea what medications they are giving him in the prison. It is incredibly rare for the Revolutionary Guards to allow a detainee outside of the prison for medical treatment, and so it is especially telling and heart wrenching for me that they have rushed my father to an external hospital on two separate occasions, each for some five days.

My family and I were not informed at the time, and only heard this through my father after the fact. The doctors have refused to provide their diagnosis to him, instead only briefing the Revolutionary Guard handlers after he has been removed from the room. None of us have ever seen his medical records from such external hospital visits. But we do know from his own rapidly expanding list of self-observed symptoms including severe weight loss, dizziness, exhaustion, confusion, light-headedness and shortness of breath, that time is not on his side.

His body, mind, and spirit are visibly wasting away and the change has become even more pronounced since his unjust conviction. Prior to that, he could still put on a good face in front of his family – even finding the strength to laugh at the absurdity of it all. But now, his spirits have been crushed by the harsh reality that, although he is innocent, he may well die in prison – and soon. It broke my heart when my father recently asked me and especially my children to pray for him.

With the brave face he always put on for my brother and me as he traveled the world for UNICEF, he always appeared to be able to bend the world to his will in small but important ways for the betterment of humanity. While my father always believed that prayer was compelling and important in its own right, for him to ask me and his grandchildren to pray for him was his way of telling me that he has accepted his fate and that it is out of his hands. I cannot describe how such physical and mental deterioration of my hero crushes me.

Let me now step back for a moment and explain the events that brought us to this point.

My brother, Siamak, was arrested by the Revolutionary Guards on October 13, 2015 following three months of intense interrogations. He had been visiting Iran for a weekend trip at the time for a family funeral in July 2015 and was prevented from leaving by the IRGC. He was immediately taken to Evin Prison and subjected to relentless interrogations regarding his ties to Western institutions and efforts in easing the reach of life saving medicine to Iran.

We could not understand what the Revolutionary Guards wanted to do with Siamak, a business consultant and scholar who had never sought to antagonize the government. We hoped that his arrest would prove to be some kind of mistake and he would soon be released. In fact, within days of Siamak’s arrest, the magistrate who issued Siamak’s arrest warrant told me personally that Siamak will be released in a matter of weeks.

With this private assurance, my family initially decided to keep quiet and not speak with anyone about this situation. But when it became clear that this commitment was not going to be honored, a member of our family reached out to the U.S. State Department on November 15, 2015 and conveyed unequivocally that our family wanted the State Department’s help in securing Siamak’s release from prison.

In January 2016, both Iranian and international news outlets started reporting that Iran would be releasing four American hostages as a condition of the impending nuclear deal. My family was overcome with joy over this news: there were only four known American hostages in Iran at that time, and Siamak was one of them. He was going to be released and in fact Siamak’s inclusion in the release list was initially reported by both Iranian and Western media.

But on January 16, 2016, Iran released five American hostages – and Siamak was not one of them. It turned out that there had been two other unknown hostages, bringing the total count of American hostages to six, and Siamak had been to our shock and horror left behind.

My family and I were devastated, and we struggled to comprehend how President Obama could leave Siamak behind, let alone leave us to learn about this in the media, rather than reaching out to us in advance. We were about to put out a press release expressing our dismay and shock, but it was “highly recommended” by the State Department to keep quiet.

I was informed that Secretary of State John Kerry had secured a promise from Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif that Siamak would be released within weeks and that our issuing a statement could interfere with achieving that outcome. So, wanting the best for Siamak and not wanting to create any obstacles we acceded to the State Department’s request.

Foreign Minister Zarif broke his promise – and, looking back, I am mystified as to how Secretary Kerry could have trusted him to do so. Not only had the United States unfrozen and reportedly returned considerable sums of Iranian assets but the entry into force of the nuclear deal was done. So where was there any incentive for the Government of Iran to release Siamak? I have never been given a satisfactory answer to that question.

Even worse, not only was the promise broken, but weeks later, horrifically, the Revolutionary Guards doubled down by arresting and detaining my dear father Baquer. My father is an 80- year-old retired UNICEF officer who has dedicated his life to helping the world’s most vulnerable children. After a lifetime of service in some of the most dangerous areas of the world, he deserves to be living out his retirement in peace. Instead, he is suffering and dying in an unimaginable hell.

On October 17, 2016, in an extraordinary perversion of justice, my father and brother were unjustly convicted of “collaboration with a hostile government” – referring in this case to the United States. They were each sentenced to 10 years in prison. For my father, this amounts to a death sentence.

As the end of President Obama’s term approached, there were more frequent direct discussions with U.S. and Iranian officials on a range of topics, including the American citizen hostage cases. But on January 20, 2017, the clock ran out. While President Obama and Secretary Kerry were able to leave office, return to their own families, and enjoy their retirement from public life, their legacy is having left my brother and father behind in Evin Prison.

I stand here today, however, to remind the Government of Iran that it is not too late to release Siamak and my father on humanitarian grounds. It is urgent that this happens before 5 we are faced with a tragedy that would be devastating not only to my family, but also to U.S.- Iranian relations.

I also want to convey to President Trump that I am counting on him to be good on his word that the Government of Iran will not be able to detain American hostages on his watch. I ask that coming from the discussions today that President Trump decides to act, and that he acts urgently. While I am grateful for the public expressions of serious concern and that the cases are being raised today privately, it is not enough to demand my father and brother’s release. I urge the Trump Administration to open an appropriate channel with the relevant parties in the Government of Iran to enable direct and ongoing discussions to secure the release of my father and brother. Time is running out fast.

To those of you gathered here today, thank you for bearing witness to my family’s suffering. My final request is to you: please keep this story alive, because my father and brother’s lives depend on it. Thank you."

-Babak Namazi

PRESS CONFERENCE, VIENNA, AUSTRIA

April 25, 2016

"Good morning. My name is Jared Genser and I am Founder of Freedom Now and serve as international counsel to Siamak and Baquer Namazi, two American hostages imprisoned by the Government of Iran. Each were convicted and sentenced in October 2016 to 10 years in prison on charges of “collusion with an enemy state,” in reference to the United States. They are being held by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps in Iran’s notorious Evin Prison. I am joined here by Babak Namazi, who is Siamak’s brother and Baquer’s son.

We urge the Government of Iran to release Siamak and Baquer Namazi immediately and unconditionally on humanitarian grounds. And we call on President Donald Trump, who in October 2016 commenting on the Namazis’ convictions and Iran having taken two more hostages: “This doesn’t happen if I’m President!,” to be good to his word and do whatever is necessary to secure their release.

Babak and I come to Vienna at a dramatic moment of escalating tensions between the United States and Iran because it is here later today the Trump Administration will have its first face-to-face meetings with Iranian government officials on the Iranian nuclear deal. We understand the United States will also be raising the ongoing imprisonment and mistreatment of the Namazis during discussions with Iranian officials.

In our press conference this morning, I will provide some context for the Namazi cases. Babak Namazi will then speak about his family’s situation. And I will discuss our filing made earlier today to the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention against the Government of Iran before opening up the floor to questions.

By way of some background, although US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson last week certified to the US Congress that Iran is to date complying with terms of the Iranian nuclear deal, he announced a cross-government review of Iran policy, grounded in a scathing indictment of how Iran’s policies are adverse to the interests of the United States.

Secretary Tillerson described Iran as “the world’s leading state sponsor of terror.” He stated that Iranian naval vessels harass U.S. naval vessels operating in the Persian Gulf, that Iran has conducted cyber-attacks against the United States, that its development and proliferation of missile technology is in defiance of relevant Security Council resolutions, and that it continues to have one of the world’s worst human-rights records. And he concluded by saying that “an unchecked Iran has the potential to travel the same path as North Korea, and take the world along with it.”

Buried among the broad array of issues of concern to the Trump Administration was a reference to Iran unjustly imprisoning U.S. citizens. And yet, if unresolved quickly, the Namazis cases could have an outsized impact on the trajectory of U.S.-Iran relations because both are in rapidly declining health. Secretary Tillerson’s remarks followed the Trump Administration sanctioning both the Tehran Prisons Organization and its head on April 13th. In commenting on these sanctions, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer noted “The sanctions against human rights abusers in Iran’s prisons come at a time when Iran continues to unjustly detain in its prison various foreigners, including U.S. citizens Siamak Namazi and Baquer Namazi.” He added “We join recent calls by international organizations and U.N. human rights experts for the immediate release of all U.S. citizens unjustly detained or missing in Iran so that they can return to their families.”

We are here today so that Babak Namazi can provide a voice for his father and brother and speak to who they really are and what they and their family have been suffering through in what will shortly be the last two years.

Before I turn the floor over to Babak, I want to conclude on a personal note. As an international human rights lawyer, I have been privileged to have represented and helped secure the release of dozens of people who have been arbitrarily detained around the world, including Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi. In all of these cases, the prisoners and the families suffer immensely. But what Babak and his family are suffering through with two loved ones in prison is beyond anyone’s capacity to imagine.

Babak, the courage, grace, and dignity with which you and your family are handling the most impossible of circumstances is an inspiration to me and my team. And we will stand in solidarity with you and advocate relentlessly on Siamak and Baquer’s behalf until they can come home.

[Babak Namazi’s Remarks]

Babak, thank you for your incredibly moving words.

Before I open the floor to questions, let me speak briefly about the legal filing that we made earlier today in Geneva. As counsel to the Namazis, my team and I lodged a formal complaint against the Government of Iran before the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.

The Working Group is a specialized quasi-judicial body that was created by the former UN Commission on Human Rights and whose mandate was extended and continues under the UN Human Rights Council. It consists of five independent experts appointed by the Council. Although these experts serve in their individual capacities and not representing their respective governments, members of the Working Group currently come from Australia, Benin, Latvia, Mexico, and South Korea.

According to its Methods of Work, upon receiving a complaint, the Working Group provides a government up to sixty days to response to the submission. The petitioner is then given the opportunity to reply to the response from the Government. And ultimately the case is typically considered during the next tri-annual session of the WGAD and a written legal opinion is adopted and published determining whether or not the petitioner is being held arbitrarily and in violation of a detaining country’s obligations under international law. While there is no enforcement mechanism for opinions of the Working Group, in my experience combining such opinions with political and public relations advocacy can be a highly effective tool to pressure governments to resolve outstanding cases of arbitrary detention.

In our submission, we detail how the Namazis are detained both in violation of their fundamental rights and in violation of their basic rights to due process of law protected by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, a treaty to which the Government of Iran is a state party.

For example, we explain how Siamak Namazi is being held in violation of his right to freedom of association as the entire case against him appears to be his association with Western organizations, including the World Economic Forum, National Endowment for Democracy, and Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

We also detail a very wide array of due process abuses that demonstrate unequivocally the arbitrary nature of their arrest, trial, conviction, sentencing, and imprisonment. These include:

• The Iranian Government Arrested the Namazis Without a Proper Warrant
• The Iranian Government Held the Namazis Without Charge
• The Iranian Government Has Detained the Namazis Without Access to Family
• The Iranian Government Failed to Provide the Namazis an Independent and Impartial Tribunal
• The Iranian Government Failed to Provide the Namazis a Public Hearing
• The Iranian Government Interfered with the Namazis’ Right to Prepare a Defense, Call and Examine Witnesses, and Withheld All Evidence from the Defense
• There Was No Valid Evidence to Find the Namazis Guilty
• The Iranian Government Interfered with the Namazis’ Right to the Presumption of Innocence
• The Iranian Government Substantially Limited the Namazis’ Right to Access to Counsel
• The Iranian Government Substantially Limited the Namazis’ Right to an Adequate Appellate Review According to Law
• The Iranian Government’s Ongoing Denial of Medically Appropriate Detention Conditions for the Namazis Constitutes Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatment as well as Torture

All of this said, however, the charges against the Namazis were clearly pre-textual. In fact, they are imprisoned as hostages to be used Iran as leverage in negotiations with the United States.

I want to conclude by reaffirming the call that both Babak and I have made in our discussion today.

We urge the Government of Iran to release Siamak and Baquer Namazi immediately and unconditionally on humanitarian grounds. And we call on President Donald Trump to do whatever is necessary to secure their release following today’s discussions in Vienna.

Let me now open up the floor to questions. If you can first identify yourself by name and the news organization that you are from, that would be helpful."

-Jared Genser

ANNIVERSARY OF BAQUER'S ARREST

February 22, 2017

"365 days. 

…. the number of days my innocent 80 year old Iranian American father, Baquer Namazi, has been unjustly imprisoned and held captive in Iran’s notorious Evin prison on absurd charges and allegations of “collaboration with hostile government of America.” The number of days his grandchildren have been deprived of their grandfather, his children of a father and most importantly, my mother from her loving husband…the number of days since I embraced my father…the number of days I never thought I would be putting on paper.

365 days of broken and false promises, retreat and mockery of justice, crushed hopes, indescribable cruelty, officials turning a blind eye to this injustice, and the unbearable pain of having half my family (my father and my brother Siamak who has been incarcerated since 15 October 2015) ripped away and held captive for reasons beyond human comprehension. 

The number of days a great human being and a true humanitarian has been behind bars; someone who has dedicated his entire life and career to the cause of the poor and impoverished in the worst parts of the world …the number of days an entire world has been deprived of my father’s contributions to humanity and the number of days pursing humanitarian causes has been criminalized in Iran. Causes such as disaster relief for victims of deadly earthquakes that only helped the Iranian people.

365 days of pain remembering how my father’s captors lured him back (by cutting a brief trip from Iran short) on promises of seeing Siamak. My father, who spent three to four days a week prior to his arrest behind Evin prison pleading to see his son, Siamak, and who needed no luring back…and the number of days my father has ended up in the same prison as my brother without a single visit with his son so far. 

365 days of seeing the darkness in humanity at levels one can never have thought possible…365 days of learning painfully and helplessly of my father’s mental and physical deterioration… and what almost 500 days has done to my brother, Siamak, who like my father did nothing but try to be a responsible human being and to help the Iranian people.

365 days… most of them spent imagining the unimaginable…. imagining also what it must be like for my 80 year old father and also my brother Siamak, being where they are…what it is like to have spent time in solitary…to be under relentless pressure of false accusations and constant interrogations…not allowed to see each other when they are only meters away…what it must be like to have their impeccable foundation, their profound beliefs, and their very being questioned to the core with these absurd charges and allegations…

…what it must be like to become pawns in a game I do not understand and nor suspect I ever will. The political games between Iran and the US; the power game between...... I am not even sure who the players are and what motivations they have. I have run out of speculations.

The days, hours and seconds pass torturously slowly for me…but time is running out quickly for my 80 year old father who has been hospitalized twice since his arrest for reasons still unclear to me. 

I still hope, every second of every day, that reason and justice will prevail and my innocent father and brother will be released and returned home to their loved ones before it is too late."

Babak Namazi

February 22, 2017

"It is now one year that Baquer Namazi has been incarcerated in the notorious Evin prison in Iran based on bogus charges of espionage.  His son, Siamak, has spent almost 500 days in the same prison.  Both are innocent, decent and caring human beings. 

Baquer and Siamak have both dedicated much of their energy and resources to Iran’s development.  They have worked to lift sanctions and limitations and to highlight the suffering of the Iranian people under unjust external sanctions.  They have invested time and money in the transfer of knowledge from the international scene to Iran. And Baquer has worked tirelessly on developing and implementing poverty eradication projects across Iran.  Ask any informed individual and they will argue that both Baquer and Siamak have been assets for the Iranian nation.

The problem is that their captors have a different understanding of what a responsible citizen should do for his country.  They view progress, especially if it is based on western ideas, as a platform for increased western, especially American influence.  They wish to restrict progress and they do so at the cost of hindering the development of our great country, Iran.  

By imprisoning and harassing persons like Baquer and Siamak, the captors also wish to intimidate the long list of caring Iranians across the world to stay away from Iran. 

They may succeed in these goals and may redefine the meanings of progress and development for our nation, but they forget that the more they act this way, the more they underline how “Un-Islamic” and “Un-Iranian” they are.  Islam and Iran both represent humanitarian and caring values and in this context it is outrageous to keep the 80-year Baquer and the 45-year Siamak as innocent human beings in prison for the mentioned periods. Each day they are kept in prison is a day of disgrace for Iran, for Islam and for humanitarian purposes.

We hope that the Iranian authorities who are keeping Baquer and Siamak find their way back to their Islamic and Iranian values and release these exceptional human beings based on Islamic mercy and Iranian values."

Bijan Khajehpour

UNICEF STATEMENT ON BAQUER NAMAZI

February 22, 2017

“One year ago today, our respected former UNICEF colleague, Baquer Namazi, was imprisoned in Iran. Our concerns for his health and wellbeing have grown deeper with each passing day. 
 
“Mr. Namazi, 80 years old, is increasingly frail as a result of his imprisonment. He should be returned to the care of his family and friends. After a lifetime of humanitarian service, he has earned a peaceful retirement. 
 
“We join his many colleagues around the world in appealing for his immediate release on humanitarian grounds. 
 
“This is the fourth statement UNICEF has made since our colleague and friend was imprisoned. We hope and pray that our next will celebrate his release.”

 

GARRISON STATEMENT ON BAQUER NAMAZI


November 12, 2016

"I have known Baquer Namazi for many years.  As the former Head of the Global Civil Society Team at the World Bank I first met Baquer when he attended the World Bank Annual Meeting in 2008 in Washington.  He came representing the Iranian NGO Hamyaran Resource Center, which he founded.  He subsequently attended several Annual Meetings held in Istanbul and Tokyo.  The World Bank sponsored Baquer to attend these meetings alongside several dozen CSO leaders from throughout the world.  

During each of these events he helped organize policy dialogue sessions and met with senior World Bank staff to discuss the need for the Bank to support civil society efforts such as the concept of “Children as Zones of Peace”, which he championed while working with UNICEF. He also, more broadly, advocated pro-poor policies in developing countries and supported the World Bank's poverty reduction efforts such as the 2000 Voices of the Poor report, and more recently the institution’s overall End Poverty goals.  

 When I first met Baquer, I was struck by his strong sense of justice and his peaceful demeanor borne by years of working for the cause of children and the poor.  I was also struck by his energy and determined pursuit of his humanitarian goals.  He was in his 70’s and could have easily gone into retirement after a long and fulfilling career in international development, but choose instead to continue being involved in the international policy arena and support programs to benefit the poor. He is also a consummate networker, reaching out to CSOs from other regions and trying to build support for pro-poor policies.  He not only made new friendships among CSO leaders attending World Bank Annual Meetings, but travelled to Canada, India, South Africa, and many Middle Eastern countries to pursue his humanitarian programs.

Baquer informed me two years ago of his intention of returning to Iran to live again in the country he loves, as well as to continue to contributing to its human and social development.  For this reason, it is hard to accept that he and his son Siamak were arrested and recently convicted to lengthy prison terms of 10 years.  To me it is inconceivable that such a jovial and kind person is now jailed for what, at his age, can amount to a death sentence. I am especially concerned about Baquer’s health, as he has lost 20 pounds in prison and was recently taken to a hospital to check on his heart condition.  

For all these reasons, I join many others calling on the Iranian authorities to release Baquer and Siamak on humanitarian grounds.  This act would show compassion and demonstrate respect for international rule of law".

John Garrison, Retired World Bank Staff
 

THE FAMILY'S STATEMENT AGAINST THE 10 YEAR PRISON SENTENCE


October 18, 2016

"It is with utter shock and dismay that we have learned of the news of the unjust sentencing of my 80 year old father Baquer Namazi and my brother Siamak Namazi both Iranian Americans to 10 years in prison each. In the case of my father this is tantamount to a life sentence. This follows one court session of a few hours for each of them. The details of the charges are unknown to us as of yet.

My father served with distinction as UNICEF’s representative in the most dangerous parts of the world and then in Iran dedicated his life and efforts to poverty alleviation and helping disaster victims. Siamak’s only crime has been to speak out against negative effects of sanctions and how sanctions prevented Iranian people’s ability to obtain medicine. It is beyond comprehension that the court and those holding our loved ones have criminalized the humanitarian efforts of my father and brother.

In the past days, a video of my brother Siamak Namazi has been posted by those holding him. It pains us immensely to see such videos which go against all principles of justice, Islamic reverence and what we would consider basic human decency. The same can be said about the articles full of fabrications and baseless accusations being posted on various websites for the past year depicting my father and brother as saboteurs and infiltrators. A one sided attack on my innocent brother and father who cannot defend themselves goes on with impunity, no accountability and against all standards of decency.

Going against the wishes of my mother, I have a duty to break our family’s silence. My father has been handed practically a death sentence and it will be a criminal act by me, his only able son, not to fight for my father’s life and freedom as well as that of my brother.

We are all extremely concerned for both their well-being and specially my father’s who at this frail age of 80 and his heart condition which, along with other ailments, threaten his life. At his age and in his condition it is highly doubtful that my father will survive any time in prison let alone a 10 year unjust prison sentence.

On behalf of my family, I call upon the authorities to immediately release Baquer Namazi, an innocent and fragile 80 year old man, and not to further jeopardize his health and wellbeing. I similarly call for the immediate release of Siamak Namazi.

I reach out to all those who care, to help save my father’s life and to free both father and son to return to the open arms of their family".

Babak Namazi

 
 

STATE DEPARTMENT COMMENTS ON THE SENTENCING OF THE NAMAZIS

October 18, 2016

We are deeply concerned about reports that U.S. citizens Siamak Namazi and Baquer Namazi have each been sentenced to 10 years in prison. Siamak Namazi has been unjustly detained in Iran for over a year. His father, Baquer Namazi, whom the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) has called a respected former employee, was also reportedly unjustly detained at the end of February 2016. We remain especially concerned by reports of his declining health and well-being.

We join recent calls by international organizations and UN human rights experts for the immediate release of all U.S. citizens unjustly detained in Iran, including Siamak and Baquer Namazi, so that they can return to their families.

We also respectfully underscore the importance of Iran cooperating with the United States to determine the whereabouts of Mr. Robert Levinson, who went missing on Iran’s Kish Island in March 2007. As President Obama stated last January, we will not rest until the Levinson family is whole again.

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UNICEF STATEMENT ON BAQUER NAMAZI

NEW YORK, 18 October 2016 – “His friends and colleagues at UNICEF have learned with deep sadness and personal concern that our former colleague Baquer Namazi, who has been incarcerated in Iran since 22 February, has been sentenced to 10 years in prison.

“Mr. Namazi served at UNICEF as Representative for Somalia, Kenya and Egypt, among other positions. He worked tirelessly on behalf of children in all those positions, often in highly difficult circumstances. He deserves a peaceful retirement.

“Baquer is 80 years old and the entire UNICEF family are deeply concerned for his health and well-being. Baquer has been a humanitarian all his life. We appeal for his release on humanitarian grounds.”

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LONNIE ALI'S LETTER TO KHAMENEI

October 14, 2016

Your Excellency Ayatollah Ali Khamenei
Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran

As Salaam Alaikum.

Dear Sir,

I use this opportunity to wish you and the great Nation of Iran a year of peace and blessings as you mark the holy month of Moharram.

Trusted friends of mine have brought to my attention the cases of two Iranian-American citizens, Baquer and Siamak Namazi (father and son) who are currently imprisoned in Iran.

Baquer Namazi (age 80) is a respected former director of UNICEF who has dedicated his life to humanitarian causes spending many years in Africa. Siamak Namazi is considered by many as someone who has raised awareness about the harmful impact of sanctions on vulnerable Iranians in need of medicine and humanitarian relief.

I would like to request that your Excellency show Islamic mercy towards these two individuals who are pure-hearted citizens of our world and allow these Muslims to be reunited with their family in this holy month.

My husband, Muhammad Ali, loved Iran and the Iranian people. It would be a blessing for many to honor the memory of Muhammad with mercy toward these two men. Muhammad was a champion of Islam for all Muslims. For the world to know his voice and influence still matter would show that Islam is truly a religion of peace and mercy. I pray that we can follow in his footsteps to promote good will and understanding between the people of Iran and the United States.

I thank you for your attention and remain.

Respectfully,

Lonnie Ali

 

UNICEF STATEMENT ON BAQUER NAMAZI

NEW YORK, 6 September 2016 – “It has now been over six months since Baquer Namazi, a respected former employee of UNICEF, was detained in Iran. His colleagues at UNICEF, and especially those who once worked with him, are deeply concerned about his health and well-being – as we stated on 3 March. Our concern has grown ever since.

“Mr. Namazi served at UNICEF as Representative for Somalia, Kenya and Egypt, among other positions. He worked tirelessly on behalf of the children in all those positions, often in highly difficult circumstances. He deserves a peaceful retirement. 

“UNICEF does not engage in politics. We hope that Mr. Namazi will be treated as the humanitarian that he is, and that a humane perspective can be brought to his plight. 

“Our thoughts remain with him and all his many friends and loved ones.” 

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UNICEF STATEMENT ON BAQUER NAMAZI

NEW YORK, 3 March 2016 – Current and former UNICEF colleagues are deeply concerned about the health and wellbeing of Baquer Namazi, who was detained in Iran on February 22.

Mr. Namazi dedicated many years of his career to improving the lives of some of the world’s most disadvantaged and vulnerable children, often working in difficult and even dangerous circumstances. Before his retirement in 1996, he served UNICEF with distinction as representative in Somalia, Kenya, and Egypt, among other posts.

A letter of commendation by former UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy best expresses Mr. Namazi’s dedication and commitment to the cause of children:

“You served with honour and distinction and acquitted yourself as an individual with…a deep personal commitment to making life better for children and women. Your pioneering work on children affected by war broke new ground and led the way to greater attention that the world gives today to children in especially difficult circumstances. With similar dedication, you helped bring the Convention on the Rights of the Child to life…and the cause of the world’s children will not be the same again. Behind all these contributions, I see a man whose strength derives from a rare base of spiritual courage and moral convictions, a man who has been able to reach for the sky because his feet are firmly on the ground. From me and your many colleagues in UNICEF, please accept a humble expression of gratitude on behalf of the countless children and women whose lives you have changed and who do not know your name.” 

Our thoughts are with our respected former colleague and his family, and we hope he will be reunited soon with his wife and loved ones. 

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EFFIE NAMAZI'S STATEMENT ABOUT BAQUER NAMAZI'S ARREST IN IRAN


February 24, 2016

My dear family and friends,

You have been calling me for the past few days asking about Baquer. I must share the shocking and sad news that Baquer was arrested in Tehran late evening of 22 February 2016 and as far as I have been told by those who took him taken to Evin prison. Now both my innocent son Siamak and my Baquer are in prison for no reason. This is a nightmare I can’t describe.

I have been trying to find out more information but have been unable to do so and the lawyer also couldn’t get any information or get to see him.

I am extremely concerned and worried sick for Baquer’s health since he is an 80 year old man and has a serious heart and other conditions which requires him to take special heart and other medicine.

I pray to God that my Siamak and Baquer return home to me and that they are released. Please keep them in your prayers.