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Wasting away in Evin
The UN must work to free political prisoners NOW



Amir Nasiri
July 17, 2005

It was three years ago, when I called Kobi my stepmother and found out that her brother Dr Hossein Ghazian was arrested by revolutionary guards and sent to prison. I actually remember that day very well. It was cold and rainy; when you looked outside the window, you felt a sense of suffocation. Dark clouds had invaded the blue sky.

On that day, like every other Sunday, I called my parents. Like many other Iranians who have fled Iran and live like gypsies all over the world; the same is true for our family. We are all over the globe. I have family members in Iran, Germany, England and USA. So, almost every week I call them just to keep in touch. But this day unlike any other day it didn't feel right.

When I heard Kobi's voice at the other end, it was shaky and she sounded very angry. I also felt upset and angry, but helpless. She said her brother was working with Abbas Abdi and several others to gather statistical data for polling they were doing, in order to find out if Iranian people would prefer to renew relations with United States.

At first I said what an intrepid move from the group. Then she said in a trembling voice: but the government knew all about it and had given its blessings to go ahead with conducting the poll. So, when I asked what had happened, she didn't say anything. I think she was as perplexed as I was about the whole situation.

Since then, Dr. Hossein Ghazian has being in prison. The first year of his sentence he was placed in solitary confinement without contact with any outsiders. He is as confused and puzzled as we are. He can not comprehend the charges that are laid against him, which are ridiculous and absurd.

Dr. Ghazian has a Ph.D in sociology and is a recognized expert in the field of political surveys. He has been part of Khatami's inner circle. At the time of his arrest Dr. Ghazian, along with Abbas Abdi and others were working as a team for Ayandeh (Future) Research Center in Tehran. He is imprisoned primarily for exercising his freedom of expression which should be guaranteed by Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Constitution of the Islamic Republic.

Dr. Ghazian has fought for his country in many ways. He thought that finding out the true feeling of the population may help the government decide what policies to follow when it comes to the U.S. His father, who just recently passed away, had spent years in prison under the Shah's regime and during the Iran-Iraq war, he fought along side many young Iranian soldiers to defend our motherland from invaders.

According to Kobi, her father did not die from the years in prison and tortures that he had endured in the hands of the Shah's secret police or from during the war when he injured his back and for years had to be treated for wounds caused by chemical weapons used by Saddam Hussein's army. Rather he passed away as a result of pain, the pain of seeing his son wasting away in Evin prison for believing in justice and freedom for all Iranians.

Evin is unlike any other prison in the world. There, a prisoner's life will be changed forever. The psychological and physical tortures that political prisoners endure in Evin are horrific and unbelievable; it can break any mountain.

I hope Dr. Ghazian's current plight can be reversed immediately and his public functions restored, as he is true patriot with proven credentials in serving our country's national interests and who deserves appreciation for his valuable and unique service to our society, instead of punishment. And here's where we need the United Nations to step in.

When the UN was established after WWII the sole purpose was to create an organization that would provide assistance to people mistreated by their governments. But throughout the years UN has become a corporation, merely to please its sponsors and corporate interests.

My brothers and sisters are dying and being tortured on the daily basis in Iranian prisons and what is the UN doing? Nothing. What a shame. How are you going to answer millions of Iranians when Akbar Ganji or Hossein Ghazian and many others die in prison? How are you going to justify doing nothing to save their lives?

I am angry and disappointed. I despise the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan who has no idea what his role is. For god's sake people are dying in Iranian prisons! I hope he will finally put pressure on the Iranian government to set Ganji, Ghazian and all political prisoners free. I beg your organization lets not waste anytime before it is too late.

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