Letter Regarding Mistreatment of Iranian Visitors
Ok, I got a bit hot under the collar on this one, but the whole thing is chock full of the sort of stuff that should make any right thinking person hot and pissed off. This is regarding the abuse of Iranian visitors who were issued visas by our consulates overseas and then detained/arrested at their airport of entry here in the states. This mess was laid our pretty clearly in an article at Iranian.com, specifically Iranians detained at San Francisco airport, 2006. After reading this I was compelled to write a letter that today I sent to both senate representatives for my state, my congressman, and to the President for good measure. Not that I expect anything to come of this, but I felt it was important to have at least expressed my outrage very directly to the "powers-that-be". To go full circle with this I'm sharing the letter, here, too:
August 11, 2006
Enclosed you’ll find a copy of a 9 August 2006 article which ran in Iranian.com, a web site established to provide information to the Iranian community throughout the world. Please bear in mind that the person who has written the email highlighted in this article was one of the victims of the incident described and is writing with English as her second language, a fact that in no way should reduce the impact of what she was subjected to, nor put in question how in this case we treated invited foreigners to this country.
I wanted to bring this incident to your attention inasmuch as it received little publicity here that I’m aware of, it doesn’t seem that anyone feels that there’s a need to explain why these people were treated this way, and frankly I am still incredulous that an incident such as this could occur in my country. I’m a retired naval officer with 22 years of service to this nation, and this is not how I expect the U.S. to represent itself to people who are invited into its borders. Moreover, I’m married to an Iranian scientist currently involved in research here in Providence at Brown University, and I have many personal friends who are graduates of Sharif University of Technology who are also in the U.S. doing graduate and post-doctoral work in some of the more prestigious educational institutions in this country.
I am flabbergasted that our country would have issued visas to Iranian graduates of Sharif University, an institution internationally referred to and respected as the MIT of Iran, only to arrest them upon their arrival here in the United States. What sort of policy allows for this? What sort of disconnect in how we treat foreign visitors to this country would allow for such inhospitable, disrespectful, and flat out rude behavior on the part of this country? The Bush administration professes to want to influence change in Iran and I’d very much like to know how the manhandling and mistreating of citizens of Iran, much less those representing the upper tier of the country, manages to foster any measure of good will between those most likely to be the actual agents of change in Iran and the U.S. government?
I respectfully request that you look into this matter. We cannot hope to expect to positively influence anyone from any country if our policies are going to lead to the sort of incident described in the enclosure to this letter. If we don’t want specific Iranians in this country for whatever reason, and Lord knows our consulates deny them visas all the time for reasons that are rarely ever made clear to them, we shouldn’t be providing them visas and then arresting them and treating them like criminals when they arrive here – I am besides myself with trying to make sense of the lunacy that would justify what was done in this situation to people who now are soured on this country, and who have many friends, relatives, and acquaintances who’ll also take a decidedly negative view regarding the U.S..
Bottom line, I don’t want my family, my friends, or the many Iranians who have traditionally maintained a positive perspective regarding this country subjected to this sort of treatment. I expect that you would feel the same way and ask that you help in preventing this sort of thing from happening in the future.