Human rights activists have added a new dimension of coverage to the ongoing nuclear talks in Vienna between the P5+1 global powers and Iran, despite declarations by top American officials that they would prefer not to let human rights issues interfere with sealing a nuclear deal.
The families of Americans jailed in Iran arrived early in Vienna to express concerns that the deal would have the United States abandoning what leverage it has left over Iran without securing the release of their loved ones. The Wall Street Journal noted that the dynamic has become especially pressing given that Western and Iranian officials are expected to seal a final agreement in the coming days:
Relatives of the imprisoned Americans have increasingly voiced their concerns in recent months that the Obama administration could reach a nuclear accord with Iran–potentially freeing up hundreds of billions of dollars of Tehran’s oil wealth–without their family members being released.
Iran currently holds three Americans known to be alive: Jason Rezaian, Saeed Abedini, and Amir Hekmati. The prisoners are held in Evin prison, one of Iran’s most notorious jails and a focal point of human rights criticism. Another American, retired FBI agent, Bob Levinson, went missing in Iran eight years ago. Levinson’s whereabouts remains unknown.
Amir Hekmati’s family explicitly linked the nuclear deal’s success or failure to his fate, with his sister declaring to journalists that “we welcome all efforts to free Amir. But if he’s not home, they haven’t done enough.” Jason Rezaian, a Washington Post reporter, was imprisoned by Iran in 2014 and charged with espionage. His brother, Ali Rezaian, told reporters in Vienna that the talks were “a unique opportunity to speak with journalists and Iran experts and remind them of Iran’s cruel and unjust treatment of Jason for nearly a year.”
The issue is likely to rebound politically as Congress takes up an expected agreement. Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) implicitly criticized the administration at a recent hearing for trying to separate the nuclear issue from broader concerns over Iranian behavior, including human rights behavior:
[F]or the next thirty days, U.S. negotiators will sit across from their Iranian counterparts. I appreciate their efforts made to raise these cases at every meeting, but the time has come to turn up the pressure… We’ve been told for a variety of reasons why the nuclear issue should be dealt with separately… [It is] about respect for human rights and human dignity, and it’s about justice. The United States government must not rest until Amir Hekmati, Jason Rezaian, Saeed Abedini, and my constituent Bob Levinson are home.
[Photo: EnGlobal News World / YouTube]
[Photo caption and emphases above added by FreeAllThree.com]
The Obama Administration’s simple acknowledgements of the plight of 4 American hostages’ in Iran is not enough! It will not bring them home. They have been wrongly held now in unimaginably dire conditions. GITMO prisoners as I say often have it far better! This issue will not be resolved unless the President of the United States and his Secretary of State John Kerry make some hard-nosed forceful demands. That’s what the ME region respects…not “Shake my hand, please?” Without a new approach, these 4 Americans will continue to languish in dangerous Iranian prisons.
We are pleased by the increased attention that the 4 American hostages have been getting in recent months, on social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook as well as TV, radio and print news interviews with the 4 families and elected officials in Washington, DC. This ‘media surge ‘must be maintained until the Obama Administration acts to obtain the releases of all 4 men and they are returned to their families.
Please continue to support these men – stay informed – pray as you are led – get involved! Each man has a unique ‘story’ that is posted elsewhere on this website. There are many interesting facts about the men and links to their families’ Facebook and Twitter accounts. The four are at risk of further declining health and cannot, should not, be held against their will another month, much less another year in Iran!
FreeAllThree.com adds its voice to encourage Americans to call, write, text, email, tweet or visit their Congressman and Senators to: Demand that the Obama Administration take more urgent steps immediately to ‘Free All 4 Americans’ who are held hostages and pawns in Iran today!
If you don’t know your Congressional representatives’ names and contact info: an easy-to-use ‘interactive map’ is on the ALCJ.org website. Or follow this link for How to Get Involved with ideas you can use: http://wp.me/P49SUn-oY
Thanks for your concern regarding the 4 Americans held hostage in Iran and their families. News about U.S. and Iranian relations and other related middle-east developments are also posted on this website on a regular basis.
NO MORE SANCTIONS RELIEF FOR IRAN UNTIL THEY FREE ALL 4 AMERICANS!
Please share this page via Twitter or Facebook if you ‘Like.’ Thanks.
Email corrections/comments to: Daniel @ FreeAllThree . com (Website URL is www.freeallthree.com)