Prominent Journalist Ends Own Life to Protest Persecution

May 3, 20110 comments

Siamak Pourzand, who committed suicide because of the bans and pressure placed on him by Iranian authorities.

Siamak Pourzand, a retired prominent journalist and former prisoner of conscience, has died at age 80 in Tehran, having been unable to see his wife and children for a decade due to a travel ban imposed on him by Iranian authorities. His daughter, Leili Pourzand, said that her father committed suicide by jumping to his death from his sixth-floor apartment window. Pourzand’s wife is Mehrangiz Kar, a prominent Iranian lawyer who has published numerous articles in the areas of Iranian law and women’s rights. Both Kar and Pourzand were imprisoned for their professional activities a decade ago. Iranian judicial and security authorities banned Pourzand from traveling abroad, and he spent the last years of his life in bed. Pourzand’s family was unable to return to Iran for years to visit him, due to fear of arrest by Iranian authorities for their activism abroad. Siamak Pourzand was arrested in 2001 for his journalistic activities, brutally tortured and forced to make a televised confession. A closed court sentenced Pourzand to 11 years in prison, but he was released later. He was re-arrested in 2002, along with a group of other Iranian writers and journalists, and released again after his health deteriorated. Iranian officials never stated their reasons for putting a travel ban on Pourzand, and never offered any guarantees to his family for safe entry into Iran in order to look after him.