Saturday, April 18, 2009

If Iran is so great, Roger Cohen, why is Roxana Saberi in Evin Prison?

Update Roxana Saberi was released from Evin prison in Teheran and permitted to leave Iran with her parents.

Roger Cohen's brown-nosing for the Iranian regime doesn't seem to deal very satisfactorily with events like this:, April 18, 2009· An Iranian court has convicted U.S. Iranian journalist Roxana Saberi of spying and sentenced her to eight years in prison. Saberi, who has reported for NPR, only recently learned of the espionage charge.

Saberi's lawyer was not allowed to ask the court about bail. She has been jailed at Evin Prison in Iran since Jan. 31.

The deputy director of the Committee to Protect Journalists, Robert Mahoney, says her sentence is too harsh.

"We believe that Roxana Saberi's trial was not transparent," he said. "And it does not seem that she has been treated fairly. We would call on the Iranian authorities to release her on bail pending appeal because we believe she should not be confined in Evin prison.

NPR's CEO Vivian Schiller says Saberi has already been held in for three months. Schiller has appealed to the Iranian government to show compassion and allow Saberi to return immediately to the United States

I'm starting to think that Cohen is like those left-wing idiots who shill for the Cuban regime, like the "Pastors for Peace" I wrote about a few years ago. I just went to the "Tompkins County Against War and Occupation" website and found out that the local "Pastors for Peace" group is going to Cuba again soon to bring aid to people. Make no mistake - I have no argument with bringing the aid. I also believe the U.S. should life the embargo on Cuba - I see no point to it, it certainly hasn't toppled the Castro regime, and it's cruel to the people of Cuba. But don't mistake my opposition to the embargo with any kind of support for the Castro regime.

Here's a statement from the latest posting at the TCAWR website that indicates why I think these people are idiots -

If the ban on travel to Cuba actually is lifted in the Congress as it appears it may be, my guess is Americans will flock to Cuba to see for themselves what life in a state that puts people before profit looks like. If enough Americans go perhaps the Congress will think that that flood of “freedom loving Americans” will benignly topple the socialist regime. My guess and fervent hope is that the reverse will happen. Americans will return home and demand socialized medicine, education and the elimination of homelessness that Cubans currently enjoy and have for many decades.

No, I think that if Americans start to visit Cuba, they will see ancient American cars and crumbling buildings and think how lucky they are not to have to live in Cuba! And if these same Americans actually know something about how the Cuban regime works, they might even protest the oppressive regime and those people who have been imprisoned for years for working for true democracy there (not "democratic centralism")!

Here's a recent Human Rights Watch press release about Cuba:

For almost five decades, Cuba has restricted nearly all avenues of political dissent. Cuban citizens have been systematically deprived of their fundamental rights to free expression, privacy, association, assembly, movement, and due process of law. Tactics for enforcing political conformity have included police warnings, surveillance, short-term detentions, house arrests, travel restrictions, criminal prosecutions, and politically motivated dismissals from employment.

Cuba’s legal and institutional structures have been at the root of its rights violations. The rights to freedom of expression, association, assembly, movement, and the press are strictly limited under Cuban law. By criminalizing enemy propaganda, the spreading of “unauthorized news,” and insult to patriotic symbols, the government curbs freedom of speech under the guise of protecting state security. The courts are not independent; they undermine the right to fair trial by restricting the right to a defense, and frequently fail to observe the few due process rights available to defendants under domestic law.

Now that I think about it a bit more, Roger Cohen is exactly like the Pastors for Peace - calling for the right policy (engagement, not embargo) for absolutely the wrong reasons, and in the process, presenting a regime that oppresses its own people and has done so for decades in an unrealistically rosy light.


  1. If she confessed of being a spy...well that is serious..but if they were made her to do so .. poor her... i think she will left alone there ..

  2. If she confessed? Her father said in an interview on NPR that she had been coerced into admitting doing things that she didn't do. Also, her trial lasted one day, and was closed to any outside observers, including her parents. Don't have the illusion that the Iranian system allows people like Saberi any real rights to defend themselves in court.

  3. Hi, Rebecca,

    I like your blog. As for Cohen, I dismissed him when he was selling the idea of the Jewish community as happy and well-treated in Iran, because they told him so, and how they are strongly against the "Zionist state". I remember reading that part incredulously, as I remember how far Soviet Jews would go in denouncing Israel officially, but how much pain doing so really brought internally.