Let My Father Go
The U.N. human-rights committee proves to be worse than impotent: dangerous.


Ever since November 2001 when the Iran’s hard-line goon squad, the Motalefeh, abducted my father, Siamak Pourzand, a 74-year-old Iranian journalist and film historian, the United Nations High Commission on Human Rights (headed by the boisterous Mary Robinson, 1997-2002 and now, Guyana diplomat Bertrand Ramcharan) has treated my family with nothing but contempt and willful disregard. We have been completely stonewalled at every turn. From November 2001 until now I have placed 23 phone calls (each time leaving a message), written five e-mails, and sent several faxes to human-rights commission offices in Geneva, Paris, and New York, desperately hoping to connect with at least one of their sanctimonious rapporteurs. Thus far, we have been given nothing but the proverbial cold shoulder.

Nine weeks ago, the U.N. rapporteur on freedom of speech, a Kenyan man by the name of Ambeyi Ligabo, visited Iran. His visit was made out to be a critical maneuver on the part of the United Nations. His mission was to personally interview twelve of the most highly publicized political prisoners, my father among them. In spite of all the information and indications given to these authorities by Iranian activists and families of political prisoners over the last few years (when the U.N, after years of persistent appeals, finally accepted that the Islamic Republic might just be the confederacy of assassins it is said to be), these people continue to disregard the gut-wrenching truth about what those prisoners are put through. They arrogantly think that a couple of five-minute visits to Iran and their perusal of a few dossiers written by Western compassionistas (mostly Europeans) enlightens them to the putrid reality that is Iran today.

Mr. Ligabo and the United Nations brass knew full well what the outcome of this stunt would be for those political prisoners. The day after his interview (November 9) with Ligabo, Ahmad Batebi, a 25-year-old student activist who had been on a one-week medical furlough from prison, simply vanished from his family home in Tehran and is still being detained in an undisclosed location, undoubtedly under severe torture. (Batebi was arrested and incarcerated in July 1999 due to an irresponsible cover photo of this young hero published in the British magazine The Economist, taken during a student demonstration that year.) Indeed Ligabohimself had conveniently warned these prisoners, before departing from Tehran, that they should take care of themselves as they may very well have to deal with the consequences of their discussion with him. Now, does that not beg the question, how could someone who knows all that, bring himself to risk the lives of innocent people?

Back in February, when another delegate from the U.N. blew into Tehran to conduct yet another one of these meretricious investigations, my poor old Dad, who was at the time (like Batebi was during Ligabo’s visit) on medical furlough, had been called in to be interviewed–but he had categorically refused to meet with the investigator. He, like the rest of the innocent men and women held unfairly and inhumanely by the mullahs, has no faith in anything claimed by the feckless human-rights representatives on New York City’s East River.

The United Nations has become nothing more than a tool for the festering European coterie of imperialists who fancy themselves to be the arbiters of propriety. But what propriety? The Europeans may pride themselves on their intellectual heritage, but a continent whose citizens often loathe each other from country to country and who does not practice what it preaches is nothing more than duplicitous.

As the people of Iran jam the streets of Tehran and other Iranian cities month after month, year after year in defiance of the rogue regime of mullahs, as they boycott more and more “elections” and persistently demonstrate their pure hatred for the thieves of the Persian heritage and their painted gophers, the European Union’s refusal to cease all business dealings with a regime which essentially abhors all Westerners is perfectly certifiable. Europeans cannot accept that their multi-zillion-dollar contracts with the Islamic Republic do not guarantee their safety against acts of terrorism on their soil and against their own citizens.

Finally, Europeans have been forewarned time and time again, by Iranian activists both inside and outside Iran, that their continued support of the rogue regime of terrorist clerics now will only lead to further Iranian contempt and animosity toward them in the future. If the European Community does not respectfully comply with the will of the Iranian people in their struggle for freedom from religious tyranny–now–they will have been the cause of their own descendants’ fallout with the people of Iran, upon the inevitable departure of the mullahs. This, too, has fallen on deaf ears.

At this juncture the mortally fatuous game of “chicken”–whose object it is to push the envelope to test the limits of possible disaster–seems to be the game that the United Nations and their European overlords have chosen to play with the equity of the world in these very critical times.

Banafsheh Zand-Bonazzi, a native of Iran, is currently and activist and writer based in New York.