I wish I could be at the UN today

23 Sep

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will be addressing the General Assembly, and many groups—including previous political prisoners—will be protesting.

I want to be there to get it all down, to understand the burden of a people wronged, especially after covering a similar—but smaller—post-election protest this summer. Ahmadinejad is an extremely contested figure, and since his little visit to Columbia—personal politics aside—I’ve always been curious to see the potent reactions and speeches he elicits. A figure so polarizing ekes out such a wide array of opinions.

But, as several news outlets have pointed out, Kian Tajbakhsh won’t be protesting today. At least, he won’t be protesting out loud. An Iranian-American scholar with a Ph.D. from Columbia, Tajbakhsh was supposed to be teaching here this semester. But Iran arrested him this summer, shortly after he was freed from Evin prison in Tehran.

The prosecutor has accused him of fomenting revolution, while his family and friends have repeatedly noted that he had nothing to do with the protests. He’s being held in secret detention, and occasionally the Iranian media will show him under mass trial, reading prepared statements of guilt. My heart goes out to his family, who was supposed to move here with him.

Alas, I have class, and meetings—but I will be watching closely.

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