Commentary Magazine


Roxana Saberi Tells Her Story

Roxana Saberi has given an interview to NPR describing her harrowing tale of captivity in Iran’s notorious Evin prison. It should be read in its entirety. It provides a useful and rare insight into the nature of the regime. One part of the interview I thought particularly poignant:

MS. SABERI. . .So I think these experiences, they taught me a lot and I learned a lot from the other political prisoners there, too – the other women – because after several weeks, I was put into a cell with them – many of those women were there because they are standing up for human rights or the freedom of belief or expression.

Many of them are still there today; they don’t enjoy the kind of international support that I did.  And they’re not willing to give in to pressures to make false confessions or to sign off to commitments not to take part in their activities once they’re released; they would rather stay in prison and stand up for those principles that they believe in.

MS. BLOCK:  What were those conversations like?

MS. SABERI:  They gave me a lot of inspiration.  I learned a lot from those women.  I think they’re some of the most admirable women I’ve met, not only in Iran, but all over the world.  I shared a cell with Silva Harotonian, who is a researcher of health issues, and she’s been sentenced to three years in prison.  I also shared a cell with university students, Baha’is – a wide range of women.

I couldn’t help but think: why is it that we don’t hear of these women? Well, for starters, our American media which remains obsessed with Obama’s “outreach” to Iran shows no interest in describing the nature of the Iranian regime and its victims. And more important, the Obama administration has gone mute on human rights, whether in Iran or China. Addressing such issues constitutes a stumbling block to “better relations.”

Unlike Natan Sharansky and the refuseniks of the Soviet Union who gained strength and were sustained during the Cold War by Ronald Reagan’s persistent commitment to freedom there is no such voice today to offer hope or comfort to those locked up in Evin or similar hell holes around the world. “Hope” and “change” apparently don’t extend to them.

Saberi has demonstrated a type of grace and courage at which most of us can only marvel. Moreover, she has done what her own government is failing to do — shine a bright light on the face of tyranny.