On the 31st anniversary of the hostage-taking of U.S. diplomats in Iran, a dozen of Iranian student activists and members of the country's largest reformist student group have called on U.S. President Barack Obama to follow up the case of current and former student activists who are in jail in Iran. In a letter to the U.S. president, the student activists call those in jail "student hostages."
The student activists, some of whom live inside Iran and some of whom have left the country, say what prompted them to directly address President Obama on the anniversary of the hostage taking is the situation of their imprisoned friends who are being forcefully held in prison.
The signatories of the letter believe it is time for the U.S. government to move past the bitter memories of November 4, 1979, and to stand next to the Iranian people in order to achieve peace under "a government truly born of popular vote."
Here are excerpts from the letter, a copy of which was e-mailed to "Persian Letters" and also posted on the "Bamdadkhabar"
website that covers student-related news.
Not only as the president of the United States, but also a Nobel Peace Laureate, we expect you to continuously and fervently observe the systematic human rights violations in our country in addition to your rightful concern about the Islamic Republic of Iran's nuclear ambitions, and we call upon you not to hesitate to employ any means of leverage necessary to stop these atrocities.
Thirty-one years ago on this day, the Islamic Republic of Iran began taking hostages from the free world starting with American diplomats, and for the past thirty-one years, they have continued down this destructive path. Even today, at least two U.S. citizens (Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer) suffer as hostages of this regime. Additionally, more than 80 students, our friends and classmates are currently held in various prisons. We regard them as ‘university hostages.'
We would like to emphasize that the public human rights record of these autocrats is so openly horrendous that further explanation should not be necessary.
More than ever before, freedom fighters and freedom thinkers around the world have made evident the tortures, imprisonment, and murder of Iranian citizens. They have raised concerns about this government that disrespects the people's fundamental rights so blatantly. What if such a government gains access to nuclear weapons? What would they do to the people of this world?
The signatories of the letter have called for international pressure for the release of jailed students and activists including Majid Tavakoli, Hassan Assadi Zeidabadi, Abdollah Momeni, Bahareh Hedayat, Heshmatollah Tabarzadi, and others.