Yesterday Iran’s new 24 hour TV channel broadcast a “documentary” featuring two jailed Iranian Americans, Haleh Esfandiari, of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and Kian Tajbakhsh, a consultant to the Open Society Institute. Both are being held in Evin prison. Esfandiari had been robbed of her passport in December while visiting her ailing 93 year old mother in Tehran, and since then has been undergoing interrogation by Iran’s secret police, then house arrrest, and for the past 70 days, solitary confinement in Iran’s notorious Evin prison. The 63 year old grandmother had run programs at the Woodrow Wilson Center that sought more than any other think tank I am aware of to promote US-Iran engagement. Its president, Lee Hamilton, a co-chair of the Iraq Study Group, has urged the Bush administration to talk with Iran.
Esfandiari’s daugther Haleh Bakhash, a lawyer in Washington, writes in the Washington Post today about her mother’s interrogators:
As I watched my mother, I thought …about the fact that our ordeal has been nothing compared with my mother’s: nearly seven months of interrogations; more than 10 weeks in solitary confinement; threats of trial and long years of imprisonment; being alone in the hands of brutal men going about their brutal business.
When the television program ended, I felt contempt for my mother’s jailers and interrogators. But I was filled with admiration for my mother. In hugely difficult circumstances, she preserved her dignity, held her head high and did not lie. She did not falsely implicate others. It is her jailers, I thought, who have to work in the dark, behind the closed doors of prison interrogation rooms. It is they who hide their faces, who try to manipulate public opinion by controlling the media, smearing reputations and dishonestly splicing film.
“My mother has nothing to be ashamed of,” Bakhash concludes. “They do.”