Help Me Bring Home My Parents From an Iranian Prison

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My father, Karan Vafadari, and his wife, Afarin Neyssari, have been imprisoned in Iran on sham charges since July 2016. Karan is an Iranian-American businessman who returned to Iran to be with his elderly mother who lived alone, and Afarin is a US resident promoting Iranian culture as an art gallery owner in Tehran. They were at the Tehran airport when the Iranian Revolutionary Guard arrested them.

Despite the fact that their due process and human rights were repeatedly violated after their arrest, including a 1 month stint in solitary confinement, they respected the legal channels in Iran, certain that their innocence would soon lead to their release. But after refusing to allow them to choose their own lawyers, Iran’s judiciary sentenced Karan to 15 years in prison and Afarin to 10 in a secret trial in Tehran. Now my parents have nowhere to turn.


What you can do to help:

There are many ways you can help besides signing this petition.

  1) Share this petition on social media encouraging people to sign it. Let Karan and Afarin know that the world has not forgotten them.

Here’s a sample message: Iran has imprisoned American citizen Karan Vafadari and US permanent resident Afarin Neyssari without due process on sham charges. Sign and share this petition to raise your voice against this injustice. #FreeKaran #FreeAfarin

  2) Write to/call Iran’s UN mission in New York (H.E Gholamali Khoshroo, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic to the United Nations) and tell them that Iran should release Karan Vafadari and Afarin Neyssari, who have been issued ludicrous sentences on sham charges without due process. This can be done over and over again in various ways with different statements to show that Americans have not forgotten about their fellow citizens in need. Please be respectful.

ADDRESS
622 Third Ave., 34th floor
New York, NY 10017, USA
PHONE: +1 (212) 687.2020
FAX: +1 (212) 867.7086

  3) Tweet messages like: “@HassanRouhani @JZarif should take a position on #FreeKaran and #FreeAfarin, good people who have been issued ludicrous prison sentences without due process.” to Iranian officials. The more times we do this, the better.


About Karan and Afarin:
When Karan returned to Iran to be with his dying mother, he met Afarin. Afarin owned and operated Aun Gallery to promote Iranian culture from inside Tehran. My dad’s favorite way to spend time with his family has always been a road trip: we might drive from our home in Georgia to the Smokey Mountains of Tennessee, or from Tehran to see an ancient Persian site like Persepolis.


Timeline:
20 July 2016: Afarin is arrested at the airport in Tehran. She calls Karan, who is also arrested when he arrives at the airport

September 2016: After about a month in solitary confinement, being accused of spying, and being told to spy on one another (they refused), Karan and Afarin are moved to around within 2-A of Evin

January 2017: Karan and Afarin see a lawyer for the first time after 5 months of imprisonment. There has been no evidence to suggest they might be a threat to national security (because they are not). The charges of spying are downgraded because it was always blatantly false.

December 2017: Judge Salavati finally names a price for bail, which is astronomically high

January 2018: Karan and Afarin find a way to put bail for Afarin. Salavati tells the lawyer: “If I wanted her released, I wouldn’t have set bail so high.”

January 2018: Salavati delivers a verdict: 15 years for Karan, and 10 years for Afarin. There is still no evidence of wrongdoing.


Charges:

The legal system has been very opaque. Even the state-approved defense lawyer has not yet been granted access to the docket to know how to even defend Karan.

This is the best I can piece together the charges:
Afarin is found guilty of using Aun Gallery to subvert the Islamic Republic. They have [falsely] claimed that she took foreign investment and thus was manipulated to use it against Iran’s best interest.
Afarin is found guilty of spreading un-Islamic art. All of her events and art at the Gallery were approved and certified by the government. This is also a sham charge.
Karan is found guilty of owning a “house of vice and prostitution.” A former ambassador from Italy to Iran was so outraged by this charge, that he wrote an open letter in Karan’s support. https://karanafarin.com/2018/02/01/letter-from-roberto-toscano-former-italian-ambassador/ As a Zoroastrian, Karan’s behavior in the privacy of his own home is ostensibly protected by Iran’s constitution.


About Me:
My parents raised me, my younger sister, and older brother in Columbus, GA. Last year, I asked the love of my life to marry me! Lily (who was born and raised in Alabama) and I met while we studying engineering at MIT, and we have been delaying our wedding so that Karan and Afarin might have a chance to be with us.


Useful links:
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/30/world/middleeast/iran-american-prison.html

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/iran-us-dual-national-karan-vafadari-zoroastrian-wife-evin-prison-group-says/

https://www.iranhumanrights.org/?s=karan+vafadari

https://www.iranhumanrights.org/2017/11/here-are-the-dual-nationals-imprisoned-in-iran/



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