US prisoner Siamak Namazi on hunger strike in Iran
Jailed Iranian-American Siamak Namazi says he is on a seven-day hunger strike — one day for each year he was left behind on a prisoner exchange in 2016 — in protest at the Biden administration’s failure to jail him and others in Iran’s notorious Evin Americans free prison.
Namazi, 51, updated President Biden on his hunger strike in a letter noting that he now holds the “unenviable title of longest-held Iranian-American hostage in history.”
“All I want, sir, is one minute of your time for the next seven days to reflect on the difficulties faced by the US hostages in Iran,” Namazi wrote. “Just a single minute of your time for every year of my life lost in Evin prison after the US government could have saved me but didn’t. That’s all. Unfortunately, in this cage, all I have to offer is me. You in return are my additional suffering. So I’m going without food for the same seven days, hoping that by doing so you won’t deny me this small request.
A lawyer for Namazi told CBS News that he delivered the letter to National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan on Friday. For the past two years, the Biden team has tried unsuccessfully to revive a 2015 nuclear deal with Iran while arranging the release of prisoners. Both efforts have stalled, further complicated by US and Western outcry over Iran’s violent crackdown on protesters and other human rights abuses.
The White House has not commented.
The Obama administration secured that Release of four Iranian Americans on January 16, 2016, including Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian. Namazi was not admitted, even though the US officials who brokered the deal knew of his detention and requested his release. The US carried out the prisoner exchange, although Namazi continued to be imprisoned.
Siamak Namazi’s father, Baquer Namazi, who was a United Nations official at the time, was arrested shortly after the US exchange in Iran while attempting to visit his imprisoned son. Both Siamak and Baquer Namazi were subsequently abandoned on two other prisoner swaps conducted by the Trump administration. finally the Iranian authorities allowed Baquer, now 86, to leave Iran last October for life-saving medical treatment in the United Arab Emirates.
“How do you describe what it feels like to be stripped of your humanity and instead treated as some kind of extortionate commodity?” writes Siamak Namazi. “How do I explain the devastation my family and I have suffered after so many half-hearted inmate deals have failed at the last minute?”
Siamak Namazi remains detained in Iran’s Evin prison along with Americans Emad Shargi and Morad Tahbaz. Mr Shargi’s family confirmed to CBS News that the three Americans are now in the same prison ward, as a fire broke out in the prison last year as fires engulfed the country nationwide protests which continue to this day. Shahab Dalili, a permanent US resident, is also being imprisoned in Iran.
Siamak Namazi pleaded with the President to bring home all Americans detained in Iran. “In the past I have implored you to reach for your moral compass and find the determination to bring home the US hostages in Iran,” he wrote. “Vain. Not only do we remain prisoners of Iran, but you have not even allowed our families to meet.”
“Only the President of the United States has the power to bring us home should he choose to do so,” he added.
In a recent interview with “Face the nation“Shargi’s wife and two daughters shared their frustration that the families of Americans held in Iran were not granted an audience with the President Trevor Reed and Brittney Grinerwho were both released in last year’s prisoner swap with Russia were invited to meet with the President ahead of the deals securing their release.
The Shargi family’s frustration was recently compounded when White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre indicated in two press briefings last year that she was unfamiliar with his case. “I just don’t see how I can trust my dad to come home when the White House doesn’t even know his name,” Shargi’s daughter Hannah told Face the Nation host Margaret Brennan.
Here is the text of Namazi’s letter to President Biden:
Dear President Biden,
When the Obama administration ruthlessly left me in danger and freed the other American citizens Iran was holding hostage on January 16, 2016, the US government promised my family to bring me home safely within weeks. Yet seven years and two presidents later, I am still locked up in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison and possess this long-overdue IOU along with the unenviable title of the longest-held Iranian-American hostage in history.
My captors like to taunt me with such words: “How can your beloved America be so heartless? Not one, but two US Presidents liberated others, leaving you behind!” But my frank answer robs her of all satisfaction. I tell you, while I remain highly outraged by the despicable distinction the US government can make among its vulnerable citizens, I will never forget that it wasn’t Obama or Trump who jailed me on fabricated charges. That it is clear whose heinous hostage diplomacy has destroyed the lives of so many innocent men and women and their families.
Unfortunately, I have a much harder time honestly answering a real question, “How are you really?” I have no words that do justice to the unspeakable pain I have endured since Iran took me hostage in October 2015. Nothing I say could possibly convey the agony of hardening myself against this soul-crushing callousness and lawlessness. How do you describe what it feels like to be stripped of your humanity and instead treated as some kind of extortionate item? How do I explain the devastation that remains for my family and I after so many half-hearted prison deals collapsed at the last minute and turned freedom into a chimera? How do I convey the excruciating terror that comes with not knowing when or how this nightmare will end or what comes next?
Day after day I ignore the intense pain I always carry with me and do my best to fight this grave injustice. You will certainly not be surprised to hear that my persistence has yielded no positive results and that my repeated calls for the rule of law and humanity have fallen on deaf ears here. Maybe I’m lucky that’s the case. After all, today the whole world is witnessing how cruel this regime can be to those who dare to demand their basic rights.
The level of ruthlessness of my captors isn’t the only thing I’ve learned a lot more about during those unbearable years. I know now that I shouldn’t get my hopes up when senior US officials say that rescuing the hostages in Iran is their top priority. Such well-intentioned statements can be repeated year after year with no tangible results. Only the President of the United States has the power to take us home should he choose to do so. For that reason, Mr. Biden, on the 7th anniversary of my being left behind by the Obama administration, I once again hazard a direct appeal to you.
In the past I have implored you to reach for your moral compass and find the determination to bring home the US hostages in Iran. For free. Not only do we remain prisoners of Iran, but you have not even allowed our families to meet.
So today I feel compelled to adjust my demand. All I want, sir, is one minute of your time for the next seven days to reflect on the difficulties faced by the US hostages in Iran. Just one minute of your time for every year of my life lost in Evin prison after the US government could have saved me but didn’t. That’s all. Unfortunately, since I am in this cage, all I have to offer you in return is my added suffering. So I’m going to abstain from eating for the same seven days, hoping that by doing so you won’t deny me this small request.
January 16, 2023
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/u-s-detainee-in-iran-siamak-namazi-on-hunger-strike/ US prisoner Siamak Namazi on hunger strike in Iran