Kian Tajbakhsh Is Free
Yesterday, I found a brief message in my email inbox stating that Kian Tajbakhsh, another Iranian-American scholar who was being held in Tehran's Evin Prison, had just been set free. By now a number of news items have appeared in the regular press and blogosphere about Kian's release (see, e.g., Robin Wright, Washington Post, 20 May 2007 for details, including mention of other Americans either recently released or still held in Iran). As it happens, I received this good news directly because I signed a petition calling for his release back in May of this year. Along with the freeing of Haleh Esfandiari (21 August) and another Iranian-American, Parnaz Azima (19 September), the release of Kian seemed to me to confirm the positive influence of attention brought to these cases by the combination of web-based petitions, condemnation by influential politicians, and the world's media spotlight.
Or is it that they simply coincide, at least in these cases, with the international maneuverings of the government in question. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, after all, is scheduled to address the General Assembly of the UN shortly. My guess is that both political expediency and worldwide attention are useful, and that in many cases they can work in synergy. So keep signing those petitions, whenever you are aware of the issues, and as often as you can manage.