Iran seizes father for son's Facebook posts
by Jannie Schipper
2 July 2012
An Iranian student in the Netherlands says his satirical posts on Facebook have led to the arrest of his father in Iran. Yashar Zamaneh fears his father will be executed. ‘I never thought they would lay a finger on him,’ Yashar told Radio Netherlands Worldwide.
On the satirical web page ‘Campaign to remind Shi'ites of Imam Naghi’ http://www.facebook.com/Emam.Naghi (If the link won't work for you, paste this into address bar. http://www.facebook.com/Emam.Naghi ) contributors comment on religious, political and social topics. Not everyone is a fan, says Yashar. ‘We wanted to break the taboo on religion. Many people in Iran have strict religious views and do not tolerate laughing about faith. But we don't insult anyone; we just want people to be more open-minded. In Europe, jokes are told about Christianity and Judaism.’
Yashar joined under his real name, but within a few weeks he began posting anonymously. That appears to have been a costly error. ‘We didn't realise the site would become so popular,’ he says. ‘And I thought: I'm in the Netherlands, so they won't be able to trace what I write back to me.’ Yashar is studying International Business Management at the Dutch university in Eindhoven. Since enrolling in 2009, he has been home to visit Iran twice. He applied to the Dutch government for asylum in February this year.
‘I never planned to remain in the Netherlands and I was never politically active in Iran,’ says Yashar. But after he began posting on the Facebook site he quickly noticed threatening signals. ‘Spies were setting up false profiles on the site and using them to gather information on active members.’
In May, the Iranian authorities showed up at Yashar's parents’ home. ‘It appears that his father is being held by the security wing of the Revolutionary Guard,’ says UK-based Iranian human rights lawyer Shadi Sabr. The guard set up a cyber intelligence unit three years ago and ever since they have been going after internet activists, Sabr explains.
Threat of execution
‘The Revolutionary Guard are the worst,’ says Sabr. They are known for producing false confessions which are then used to convict perceived enemies of the regime. The lawyer believes Yashar's father will be charged with financing anti-Islamic activities. ‘That could get him the death penalty,’ Sadr adds.
‘My father has nothing to do with it,’ Yashar says. ‘He merely paid for my studies in the Netherlands.’
‘We are seeing that more and more often. People are being punished via their family members,’ says journalist Lida Hosseini Nejad of Radio Zamaneh, a Farsi radio station in Amsterdam. She points to a recent case of Iranian BBC journalists whose families are being put under pressure in Iran.
Yashar says his father telephoned and pleaded with him to provide the Iranian authorities with passwords and other information. But he refused, ‘because they would have arrested my father anyway.’ He says Teheran is wrongly accusing him of being the manager of the critical website. ‘But the manager is in Iran, at least he says so. We don't know each other personally,’ says Yashar. ‘I asked him by e-mail to shut down the site but he says that won't help my father.’
No consular help from the Netherlands
Lawyer Sadr is calling on the Dutch government to do all it can for Yashar. The foreign affairs ministry in The Hague tells Radio Netherlands Worldwide it is still trying to verify Yashar's story through EU member states' representatives in Teheran. The ministry says it has received no official request for aid from Yashar or his family. Because he is not a Dutch national, the ministry says, the Dutch embassy does not have the authority to lend his family consular assistance.
‘The Iranian government insists that I come explain what I have done,’ says Yashar. ‘But I won't do that, of course, because I know exactly what would happen. It wouldn't save my father, and I certainly wouldn't survive either.’ RNW
Yashar Zamaneh and his father
I don't suppose being sans beard helps his case any. That's life in an Islamic theocracy I guess.
If you want to know just how much Ahmadinejad is not of this world, watch this Channel 4 report from 2007. It's all of interest, there being much talk of nuclear self-determination among other things, but it is the bit starting around the 3:30 mark that lets you inside his head.
Second below is part of the speech that Ahmadinejad gave before the UN, the one he describes to the Mullah's at 3:30mins. Not critical viewing though, if you want to pass on it.
YouTube text: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad addressed the UN and spent a lot of his speech preaching. At the end of his speech he talked about the promise of a just world ruled by the "perfect man" and that this paradise was coming soon. That the perfect man would appear soon arriving with Muhammad and "Jesus Christ." Amazing how bold Ahmadinejad is becoming on this! He is all but speaking of it openly and no one seems to notice! This is important to understand when dealing with Iran. Ahmadinejad believes he is called by Allah to usher in his version of the Shiite Messiah, the 12th Imam, and the way to speed that process is to set the world on fire.And below? well it takes all kinds I suppose!
YouTube text: Iranian leader Ali Khamenei inspects military foot-drills depicting Sword of Ali ripping through a Swastika desecrated US Flag and a Star of David. This military display came on the heals of the US Congressional vote denouncing Iran's Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist group and the resulting US economic sanctions against Iran.