WASHINGTON—On May 8, Iranian officials arrested and imprisoned Dr. Haleh Esfandiari, director of the Woodrow Wilson Center's Middle East Program. The government of Iran has subsequently arrested three other Iranian-Americans, Kian Tajbakhsh, Parnaz Azima, and Ali Shakeri, and has simultaneously engaged in a widespread crackdown on civil society in Iran.
All four of the detained Iranian-Americans face serious charges and could be sentenced to long prison terms. Dr. Esfandiari already has been in Tehran's Evin Prison for over forty days, after having been prevented from leaving Iran since the end of December. To date, she has been denied access to her family, her lawyers, and international organizations like the Red Cross.
In response to the unfounded and unjust incarceration of Haleh Esfandiari, who has worked tirelessly to promote Iranian-American dialogue and scholarship, Amnesty International, the American-Islamic Congress, Human Rights Watch, Vital Voices Global Partnership, the Near Eastern Studies Department of Princeton University, and several other organizations will hold a vigil in New York on Wednesday, June 27. The purpose of the vigil is two-fold: to urge that all charges against Haleh Esfandiari and the other 3 Iranian-Americans be dropped, and that the Iranian government immediately release Dr. Esfandiari and the other three Iranian-American detainees. It will take place across from the United Nations headquarters in New York City at the Dag Hammarskjold Plaza, from 12 – 1 p.m.
The vigil will feature remarks from Shaul Bakhash, Haleh Esfandiari's husband and Clarence J. Robinson Professor of History at George Mason University; Zainab Al-Suwaij, Executive Director of the American-Islamic Congress; and Sheila Dauer, Director of the Women's Human Rights Program at Amnesty International USA. (A copy of the flyer is attached)
For up-to-date information regarding the situation of Dr. Haleh Esfandiari, please visit the Wilson Center's media update center at www.wilsoncenter.org/halehnews. To get involved in the campaign to free Dr. Esfandiari, go to www.freehaleh.org. Media with questions may reach Sharon McCarter at (202) 691-4016 or email@example.com.
The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars is the living, national memorial to President Wilson established by Congress in 1968 and headquartered in Washington, D.C. The Center establishes and maintains a neutral forum for free, open, and informed dialogue. It is a nonpartisan institution, supported by public and private funds and engaged in the study of national and world affairs.