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Please stand up for human rights and freedom for political hostages in Iran

Monday, 10 December 2018 10:30 GMT

ARCHIVE PHOTO: Iran's national flags are seen on a square in Tehran February 10, 2012, a day before the anniversary of the Islamic Revolution. REUTERS/Morteza Nikoubazl/File Photo

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* Any views expressed in this opinion piece are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters Foundation.

We all feel the same pain. We fear for each of our loved one’s safety, well-being and sanity. We won’t stop until our loved ones are home.

Sarah Moriarty is a daughter of Robert Levinson who has been held hostage in Iran since March 9, 2007. 

Today is the 70th Anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly. My father, Robert Levinson, was just a baby when it was first introduced in 1948. Who would have thought then that this declaration would have a direct connection to his life - and the lives of the other hostages being held in Iran.

My family and five other families of political hostages in Iran from across the globe recently sent an open letter to our governments and UN officials asking for urgent help and the release of our loved ones. Their human rights are being violated every single day without action by these important world leaders. 

Our fathers, husbands, brothers, grandfathers, friends all made the mistake of setting foot on Iranian soil after the Iranian authorities reinvigorated their hostage taking efforts in early 2007. Robert Levinson, Saeed Malekpour, Nizar ZakkaSiamak Namazi, Baquer Namazi, Kamran Ghaderi, Ahmadreza Djalali – each of these men are being denied the fundamental human rights values of justice and human dignity. There are countless other individuals also held by Iranian authorities.  We speak loudly on their behalf.

We all feel the same pain. We fear for each of our loved one’s safety, his well-being, his sanity. Each of these individuals is being used as a bargaining chip, with his health declining rapidly and without his most basic human rights, but the Iranian authorities have been allowed to get away with treating people this way over and over again. We cannot just let these people die in Iranian prisons. 

Many countries have condemned Iran, but with no result. We appreciate these efforts and condemnations, but without Iranian authorities seeing a direct impact for the human rights violations they are committing, they will continue to do this and get away with it. This is an epidemic to which the world needs to demand an end immediately.

We received a tremendous response to our joint letter. U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said, “Iran invented reasons to throw these innocent people in jail and keeps them there with no end in sight and no fair judicial process for them to pursue. They should be released immediately and returned to their families. We won’t rest until they are.”

Ambassador Richard Grenell also released a statement saying that our letter “should be of concern to every government of the world interested in human rights.” He encouraged the public “to demand the release of all these hostages.”

Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright tweeted that “six families of hostages held by Iran have come together to remind the U.S. government of its responsibility to do everything it can to bring their loved ones home.”

U.S. Senator Tom Cotton tweeted how “the Iranian regime’s continued practice of hostage taking places it among the worst human rights abusers on earth.”

Shamefully, we have yet to hear from the government of Iran.

We united families won’t stop here - we need concrete steps and action from our governments. This is just the beginning of our combined voice and we are asking each and every person to do whatever is in their power to help us stand up for the human rights of Bob, Saeed, Nizar, Siamak, Baquer,  Kamran and Ahmadreza. 

We won’t stop until our loved ones are home.