I am heartbroken about the abduction in the middle of the night of Jason Rezaian and his wife, Yeganeh, a month ago Tuesday. It seems he is a pawn in a larger political game in Iran. They were arrested, with no public statement of the charges. Where they are is anyone’s guess. Jason’s mother, Mary, has spoken to the media, asking for his release and saying he is on high blood pressure meds. Naomi Shihab Nye writes in a poem:
How long can we stand it if it goes on and on?
It’s too long already…
No one hears the soldiers come at night
To pluck the olive tree from its cool sleep.
Ripping up roots. This is not a headline
In your country or mine…
Jason was part of my son Solomon’s circle of friends from Marin Academy. They graduated in the mid-nineties. Solomon became an excellent professional DJ, Jason, a successful reporter for the Washington Post. Their close friend, Nikolai Kinski became a German movie star. Not long ago Jason’s Facebook page was filled with photos of his marriage and travels with the lovely reporter, Yeganeh, his Iranian wife. Jason held dual citizenship.
This is from a letter Jason wrote me half a year ago:
Tamam: So great to hear from you and sorry for the slow reply. I’ve been on the road quite a lot the past month and am just settling back into life in Tehran.
It was good to see Nikolai and introduce him to my wife, Yeganeh. We figured out we hadn’t seen each other since 2005 so it was nice to just check in about everything. With my MA friends, more than anyone else, it seems that it doesn’t matter how much time passes between encounters, we’re always on the same page.
I was in the states for a couple of months earlier this month and stayed with Robbie (Stauder) for a few days. Do you realize he and I have been friends since we were 6 years old?
Those friendships have always helped give me comfort and some direction. I think about Solomon much and laugh about experiences we had together, and always appreciate how he brought folks together.
I’m happy about your projects, too. I think the time may be drawing near that you could visit Iran and see Fatima’s shrine in Qum, as well as other special places of pilgrimage. Let me know when you want to start exploring that… I’m sure it would be a transformative experience.
Yeganeh and I are starting to plan out our next moves. We hope to have her green card by early in 2014, which means we will come spend some months, probably in Marin, probably in summer. I look forward to catching up then.
Please give Shabda a big hug from me and one for you, too. Jason
The media is sluggish in their reporting. I post to facebook, requesting friends to keep Jason’s abduction from vanishing , as his facebook page has. Here is recent media from the New Yorker, August 15, 2014
Why is Iran detaining Jason Rezaian? By Laura Secor
…He had reported with whimsy, insight, and deft nuance throughout the Islamic Republic’s most restrictive years for press freedom, and, in 2012, the Post hired him as its Tehran correspondent. I was happy for him, and happy for American readers, but also worried. Dual nationals—Iranian-Americans like Jason—are extremely vulnerable in Iran. They are subject to Iranian law, which is hard enough on local journalists, and, worse, their link to the United States makes them targets of suspicion in a state preoccupied with the spectre of foreign conspiracy. The Post would raise Jason’s profile….
Together with his wife, Yeganeh Salehi, who writes for the Dubai-based paper the National, Jason was arrested, in his Tehran home, on July 22, 2014. They have been held for three weeks now at an undisclosed location. The sequence of events is both chilling and depressingly familiar to anyone who follows Iranian affairs. The couple has not yet been charged with any crime. On August 5th, a report in a newspaper close to the security establishment limned the likely case against them. It is both patently absurd and entirely run-of-the-mill for Iran: the paper alleges that Jason and Yeganeh are American spies feeding sensitive information to Washington, and, furthermore, that they are to blame for the viral distribution of a video of Iranians dancing on a rooftop to Pharrell Williams’s “Happy.” The young people who participated in that video were arrested and forced to recant their happiness back in May. (Jason covered the dust-up for the Post, though only after the people in the video had already been released.) A televised, coerced confession from the couple seems likely to come soon.
Be FREE, JASON and YEGANEH!! You are in our prayers.