Monday, February 01, 2010


Maziar Bahari was born in Iran, went to college in Canada, and holds joint Canadian and English citizenship. He is married to Paola Gourley, an Italian-English attorney (solicitor). They live in London and their first child, Marianna, was born in late October.

Bahari is a journalist (Newsweek) and filmmaker (BBC). But these jobs didn't get him in trouble. His crime was to do an interview with Jason Jones for The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

The morning of June 21, 2009, during the Iranian post-election protests, Bahari was arrested without charges by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). He was held in a small cell for 118 Days, 12 Hours, 54 Minutes. He was beaten and interrogated daily, often several times a day. He was told that his life was over, that he was never getting out, that he had no more friends and family.

He feared he would never meet his soon-to-be-born daughter.
"Some police manuals, even in the West, say that hitting a prisoner with a closed fist constitutes assault, but an open-handed slap does not. Perhaps [my interrogator] had read such a guide. His meaty palms slapped me hard across the back of my neck and shoulders. "I thought we had an understanding, sir!" I protested as I tried to protect my body.

"Move your hands, you little spy!" he screamed. "Understanding? What stupid understandings could we have with a spy like you?"

The beatings would continue from that moment until late September."
The interrogator took special care to hit the back of Bahari's head, where he knew the prisoner suffered from debilitating migraines.

Bahari was held in the infamous Evin prison near Tehran.
""Welcome to Abu Ghraib, Guantánamo, or whatever it is you Americans build," a guard said to me after we arrived. He spoke with an Azerbaijani accent, and sounded older. "I'm not American, my brother," I said with a smile. "You work for them, so you're one of them," he said."

Thank you, Jack Bauer, for muddying these waters. It's amazing how many people take fiction as fact, who inform their beliefs, opinions, and worldviews based on stories written by a committee of creative writers in a room in southern California. We know that torture doesn't work. And we know that it undermines everything we stand for and everything we try to do in the world when we engage in it (no matter what we call it when we do).
The Tortured Brain (Newsweek)
The Torture Myth (Washington Post)
Torture Doesn't Work (The Christian Science Monitor)
Bahari's account of his experience (Newsweek, and well worth the read!)

And yet.


Carmie said...

Great post; I agree with your comments about Jack Bauer and the Newsweek articles.

I wish more people could separate Islam from Islamic terrorists. Fundamentalists, in any religion or aspect, is a step backward for humanity.

Have you read Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali? Fascinating read.

Sarahlynn said...

I agree completely, and, no, I haven't read that book. I'll have to check it out. Thanks!

Barrie said...

I think I should check out Infidel too.