(Washington, DC--June 28, 2007) RFE/RL prepared the following statement for release at a June 27 vigil at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza in New York City. The vigil, sponsored by Amnesty International, the American-Islamic Congress, Human Rights Watch, Vital Voices Global Partnership, the Near Eastern Studies Department of Princeton University, and several other organizations, was attended from Washington by RFE/RL Communications Director Donald N. Jensen and covered by Radio Farda.
Parnaz Azima has been trapped in Iran for 153 days.
Who trapped Parnaz? The government of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Her crime -- according to Iranian authorities -- is to work as a broadcaster for Radio Farda.
What does Parnaz do for Radio Farda? Produce programs on Persian literature and poetry, the status of women, ethnic and religious minorities, the media and other aspects of human rights, and Iran's diplomatic relations. She has also produced program series on modern Iranian history, literature and political/philosophical thought.
Parnaz is a broadcaster and a translator of literary works, who has written and translated more than 30 books from English and French into Persian, including "The Old Man And The Sea," by Ernest Hemingway, "Love In The Time Of Cholera," by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and "Hope Dies Last: The Autobiography Of Alexander Dubcek."
Parnaz reports the news to her fellow countrymen who have access to very little news, and even less truth, from Iran's state-controlled television and radio airwaves.
Parnaz told her colleagues at RFE/RL, during a June 6 interview from Tehran, "Officials from Iran's Islamic republic, who always say that [Iran] is one of the best democracies in the world, should not have any fear of telling the truth. If they really care about people's thoughts and opinions, they should consider people's ideas and value them."
President Ahmadinejad -- drop the charges your government has lodged against Parnaz, Haleh Esfandiari, Kian Tajbakhsh and Ali Shakeri. Let them leave your country and return to their lives and families in the United States.