Rants and Raves

Opinion, commentary, reviews of books, movies, cultural trends, and raising kids in this day and age.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

The new Iranian hostages

The government of Iran is holding four Iranian-Americans on charges that appear either bogus (spying) or simply tyranical (working for NGOs that promote reform and human rights).

According to the L.A. Times http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-usiran2jun02,0,750031.story?coll=la-home-center they are:

"... Haleh Esfandiari, director of the Middle East program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington; Kian Tajbakhsh, with George Soros' Open Society Institute; journalist Parnaz Azima, with U.S.-funded Radio Farda; and Ali Shakeri, a peace activist and founding board member of the Center for Citizen Peacebuilding at UC Irvine."

In addition, one Robert Levinson, a former FBI agent, is "missing" in Iran. They say they have no idea where he is.

It is speculated that the Iranian government may want to exchange them for some of their diplomats held in Iraq, or maybe they are just pushing the US and Europe to see how far they can.

George Bush has demanded their release - but in this case, much as I hate to say it, he may not have a legal leg to stand on.

Let me explain. My children have dual citizenship (US/Polish) and my sister as well (US/UK). When my son was born in Warsaw, we went to the American embassy to get his US passport and they explained to us how dual citizenship works.

First point, they don't like it much. They recognize that it happens, but it's the kind of thing that makes life complicated for diplomats and makes for potential diplomatic incidents.

The upshot of it is, my kids have to enter Poland on their Polish passports, and America on their US passports. Everywhere else they can use the one that gets the cheaper visa. (When my wife and I last visited Belarus together for example, her visa cost about a tenth of mine.)

When they reach the age of conscription, if there is a draft the country they are in at the time gets them.

And here's the alarming part - if they get arrested in either country, the other one can do nothing. Zip. Zero.

That's why the Iranians are conspicuously holding the four Iranian-Americans, and denying all knowledge of the whereabouts of Robert Levinson. They're giving us the finger, and we may have to take it. I shouldn't like to be any of them right now.

Dual citizenship can be very convenient if both countries are good on human rights. This is one of those times when it's not so good.


  • At 1:48 PM, Blogger gun-totin-wacko said…

    A few months ago, I came across an article which seemed to suggest that my siblings and I could get an Italian passport, due to my father having been born there. I would have jumped all over it, since an EU passport would be A Really Good Thing for an American. But it turned out that it was only if the parent hadn't been naturalized in their adoptive country when the child was born.

    So no dice. Too bad. Maybe instead of immigrating legally, fighting in WWII, assimilating, and applying for citizenship, he should have stayed here illegally. Would have made things easier for all of us.

  • At 4:45 PM, Blogger Plateau said…

    Hi Steve,

    I wrote about this a couple of times on my blog: http://plateauofiran.wordpress.com/

    A couple of points. One, Islamic Republic law is such that if one is born in Iran and/or one's father is Iranian by birth (not mother) he/she is in fact an Iranian and subject to Iranian laws when visiting. The adopted country of the person is secondary and in fact, prior to naturalization, most governments warn those Iranians who are about to become U.S. or whatever citizens about the fact that if they were to be arrested in Iran, their adopted government cannot do a great deal. So, those Iranian-Americans who were born in Iran and/or have an Iranian father, must know about the risks of travelling to Iran while the Mullahs are in power. More so if they have a somewhat political profile.

    Secondly, Haleh Esfandiari is known to be an apologist (that is what I call her anyway) for the IR regime, i.e. she continuously promoted dialogue with the Mullahs thru her organization (Woodrow Wilson). IR is obviously holding these people in order to blackmail the U.S. (as you said re socalled IR diplomats in Iraq). This is nothing new as far as IR actions are concerned i.e. standard procedure. They are a terrorist regime and should be dealt with accordingly. I hope these hostages are released and ppl such as Esfandiari see the light that IR is paranoid and brutal. Actually, I am of the opinion that by advocating "dialogue" with IR, she not only put her own life at risk but also she indirectly prolonged the existence of a regime that holds thousands of women (and men)"hostage" in Iran, who do not have the luxury of being dual citizens, must continue to live in Iran and are subjected to worse treatments than she.


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