Hilary Clinton: Senator Clinton Continues Push for Iranian-American Scholar’s Release; Amnesty International Vigil Held at UN

On June 27th, Senator Hillary Clinton issued a statement further condemning the detention of imprisoned Iranian-American academic, Haleh Esfandiari and her colleagues Parnaz Azima, Dr Kian Tajbakhsh, and Ali Shakeri.



In her statement issued on Wednesday, Senator Clinton wrote:



"I am saddened and dismayed by the continued detention of Dr. Haleh Esfandiari and Parnaz Azima, and the recent arrests of fellow Iranian-Americans Dr. Kian Tajbakhsh and Ali Shakeri. I have joined the fifteen women Senators in writing to Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon urging him to intervene on behalf of Dr. Esfandiari and Ms. Azima, and I am gravely disappointed that the situation in Iran has been allowed to escalate. It is an unconscionable violation of human rights to detain and imprison individuals without just cause, and we cannot let this situation stand.



All of these individuals have taken steps to promote peace and understanding between Iran and the United States. Dr. Esfandiari is head of the Middle East Progam at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, where she has worked to raise awareness of international women's issues. Ms. Azima is a journalist for Radio Farda, the Persian-language service of Voice of America/Radio Free Europe, where she has presented unbiased information on current events.



Dr. Tajbakhsh is an urban planning expert who has consulted on behalf of the World Bank on development projects, and Mr. Shakeri is a founder and board member of the Center for Citizen Peacebuilding at the University of California Irvine. Allegations that their activities - activities that are in the public's interest, and a public service - are attempts to overthrow the Iranian government are unfounded and baseless, and must not go unchallenged by the international community.



It is imperative that these Iranian-Americans be able to return unharmed to their families and homes, where they can continue to carry out their work of promoting international understanding. I call upon the United Nations to work with international partners and its member states to secure their release, and I pledge to do all I can with my partners in Congress to ensure that no harm comes to these individuals."



Senator Clinton continues to be the most vocal supporter in Congress for the imprisoned Iranian-Americans, this being the second statement pressuring both the Iraniang judiciary and the United Nations to bring this academic crisis to a peaceful end.



At the same time as Senator Clinton's statement was issued, in front of the UN, an Amnesty International and Wilson Center co-sponsored demonstration calling for the release of Dr Esfandiari and her colleagues helped to keep the case at the forefront of news in the region. The peaceful demonstration, which brought roughly one-hundred people to the doorstep of UN headquarters in New York City.



Dr Shaul Bakhash, Dr Esfandiar's husband and a professor at George Mason University in Washington, D.C. spoke to the crowd about his beloved wife's medical condition and expressed worry at her medical condition inside Evin Prison. Their daughter, Haleh Bakhash also spoke about her mother, saying: "I'm holding on to hope that my mother is thinking about her family everyday and about her friends and that that's giving her the strength to go on each day and that she knows in her heart that this is going to come to an end soon and that she will be sent home to be reunited with us," she said.



We in the academic community hope so, too.

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About Elle Alexandra Jerome

A. Scheherezada Jerome is an Anglo-Ottoman Instructor of Islamic Studies at York College of Pennsylvania. She graduated from Dickinson College in 2003 with a self-developed major in Middle Eastern Studies and Spanish. In 2004, she graduated from the School of Oriental and African Studies with an M.A. in Islamic Societies and Cultures. Finally, in 2005 she finished her second M.A. in Gender and Identity in the Middle East (Summa Cum Laude) at the University of Exeter. After finishing the first stages of her postgraduate work, she was an intern in Women’s Affairs at the Embassy of Afghanistan. In addition to her academic work, she manages her non-profits, The Shaherazade Project and Women Against Crimes of Honor. She’s also the coordinator for postgraduate students in the Association for Middle East Women’s Studies. Currently, in addition to her teaching duties she is the editor of Kohl an anthology of Muslim-American women’s writing to be published in 2007 and is working on research for her second novel, Hürrem Sultan.

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