Journalist Roxana Saberi’s release from prison in Iran and return to USA

Prison bars
Image by jellevc via Flickr

The Iranian-American journalist, Roxana Saberi who was accused of spying, arrested, and imprisoned in Iran for 100 days, was released and returned to US. According to an article in Huffington Post, she has said, “singing the national anthem helped keep her going…And it may sound corny, but I’m so happy to be home in the land of the free.”

Well, I am sure that being arrested by IRI and spending 100 days in the notorious Evin prison for no good reason was very harsh to say the least. But yes, her statement is quite corny. As an independent Iranian-American journalist working both in USA and Iran, one would expect that she knows better. Or let’s hope that she knows but has forgotten that the mess in Iran for the past 30 years (including her imprisonment) has indirectly been caused by the predatory ways of Uncle Sam, the government of “the land of the free”, in the first place.

Its roots go back to the 1953 coup that was staged by the CIA (underEisenhower’s presidency) that overthrew the democratically elected Prime Minister of Iran, Mohammad Mossadegh under Shah’s rule. He defied the British and nationalized the Iranian oil industry which till then had been under the British control. The English government was not happy about it so Prime Minister Winston Churchill influenced the US government to get rid of Mossadegh. This is all well-documented in various books, reports and even short documentaries. Author Stephen Kinzer in his book “All the Shah’s Men” details the events of August 1953.

President Obama publicly acknowledged and admitted US’s role in the 1953 coup in Iran in a call for reconciliation with Iran’s government, in his keynote speech in Cairo in 2009 said: “In the middle of the Cold War, the United States played a role in the overthrow of a democratically elected Iranian government.” Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright in 2000 said: “The Eisenhower administration believed its actions were justified for strategic reasons. But the coup was clearly a setback for Iran’s political development and it is easy to see now why many Iranians continue to resent this intervention by America.”

I know that things are a lot worse in Iran right now than they were under Pahlavi’s regime. But many may not know that the Evin prison was actually built in Shah’s era. The shah, despite his nationalistic sentiments, was ultimately an anti-communist watchdog for US and its interests in the region. Shah’s regime with the help of its dreaded secret service, SAVAK, that was trained by the very best of CIA, imprisoned, tortured and executed thousands of political prisoners for dissent, associations with socialist/communist or even Islamic groups.

In fact, I remember once being in the Evin prison (as well as other prisons around Tehran) as a little boy with my parents when we went there to visit a close relative who spent four years of his 20s in prison for his supposed affiliation with a socialist/communist group. He had also been subject to torture. He had friends who got killed by the regime. All that injustice in the 60s and 70s helped drive the so-called Islamic revolution in the late 70s which resulted in the establishment of IRI in 1979.

Imagine what Iran would’ve been like had the greed of English and American governments not interfered with Iran’s fragile democracy which was just starting to take roots. Iran and the rest of the world would be far better off. Stephen Kinzer argues that the 1953 coup in Iran planted the roots of Islamic fundamentalism and extremism which eventually lead to terrorist acts such as 9/11. If he is right — and I think he is — the 1979 revolution in Iran might not have happened. Iran, Afghanistan, Iraq would be very different today and their people could be in a far better shape, and most probably the NYC Twin Towers would still be standing.

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