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Mockery of Justice: The Framing of Siamak Pourzand

4. The Disappearance of Siamak Pourzand

 Mr. Siamak Pourzand was born in September 1931 and spent his professional career as a journalist and film critic. Prior to his disappearance, Mr. Pourzand was the manager of the Tehran Cultural Center (Majmuiyyih Farrhang-i Hunariyih Tehran)[28] and the chief editor of an internal bulletin for the Iranian Civil Engineering Association, Payam-i Abadgaran. Between 1998 and 2001, he had been an occasional contributor to a number of reformist newspapers and foreign-based Farsi language media outlet. He was well known for his public criticism of the Islamic Republic’s policy toward culture and the arts.[29]

In the immediate aftermath of the Iranian revolution, Siamak Pourzand was banned from working in journalism. Mr. Pourzand was a cosmopolitan and liberal figure who had worked in the United States from 1964-1969 as a foreign correspondent for the pre-revolutionary incarnation of Kayhan. He had interviewed U.S. President Richard Nixon, as well as a number of other American political and cultural figures,[30] which made him somewhat suspect in the eyes of the new regime – as did the fact that in 1978 he had served briefly as the deputy of the General Manager of the Ministry of Education, and that his brother had been a colonel in the Shah’s armed forces.[31] However, Mr. Pourzand was eventually allowed to resume his journalistic career working primarily for Payam-i Abadgaran, Shafa (a health magazine), and Fazilat (a cultural publication).

In 2001 Siamak Pourzand was appointed to manage the Tehran Arts and Cultural Center. The Center had been established as a forum for intellectuals and civil society activists to exchange views on a wide range of issues, including women’s rights and freedom of expression. Mr. Pourzand is also the husband of Mehrangiz Kar, a writer, lawyer and prominent women’s rights campaigner. Mrs. Kar was sentenced to four years’ imprisonment on April 29, 2000, for her participation in a conference entitled Iran after the Elections held at Berlin’s Heinrich Böll Institute in April 2000.[32]

Mrs. Kar spent 54 days in prison before being released on bail for medical treatment. She left Iran in August 2001 and eventually settled in the United States. From the United States, Mrs. Kar appealed against her conviction, which was partially overturned, and she was discharged by the court with time served. However, three charges still remain open against her, and she has not returned to Iran since 2001. The couple have two daughters, Lily and Azadeh, who were both living in North America by the end of 2001.

Siamak Pourzand’s first wife, Manda Zand-Ervin,[33] is also living in the United States. Mrs. Zand-Ervin fled Iran after the revolution. She is the founder and president of the Alliance of Iranian Women, an advocacy group promoting women’s rights, and is an active member of the Constitutionalist Movement of Iran, an expatriate political party that supports the restoration of a constitutional monarchy in Iran. Banafshéh Zand-Bonazzi,[34] Mr. Pourzand’s daughter from his first marriage, is a long-term resident of the United States, and an active human rights campaigner and critic of the Iranian regime. Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, head of the NAJA, would later cite Mr. Pourzand’s relationship with his first wife and their daughter as proof of his “anti-revolutionary activities.”[35]  

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