Iranians Return Home To Jail


Since the Islamic Revolution, many Iranians fled Iran and emigrated to countries where they could continue to enjoy the basic freedoms that were stolen from them by the oppressive regime. For many of them, Iran remains their home and family and they long for the chance to fly back, to visit their families and friends, to relive some of their cherished memories and to be a part of the economic boom that was meant to follow the nuclear deal. Other Iranians left Iran for the purpose of studying abroad but statistics show that 89% of Iranian doctoral students didn’t return after finishing their studies, increasing the growing level of the “brain-drain” raging in Iran.

Up until three years ago, most of these Iranians talked about revisiting their homeland only in theory knowing all too well that once they landed back in Tehran, the nightmares of the past would become painful realities of the present and the future. But then, Hassan Rouhani won the elections and in the spirit of moderateness, he called on all Iranians living abroad as immigrants or as dissidents, to come back to Iran without fears of repercussions form the regime – he called this their “incontrovertible right”. It’s estimated that there are 7 million Iranians living outside of Iran and that they manage assets worth $2 trillion – perhaps that’s why Rouhani called them “assets” and he ordered the embassies to facilitate procedures for them to visit Iran.

Some Iranians must have been overjoyed by Rouhani’s statements because they boarded planes and flew out to Tehran. They didn’t listen to Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei, the Spokesperson for the Iranian Judiciary who unequivocally stated that “we do not ban people from entering the country or say they do not have the right to enter the country… but when they enter they will be charged and prosecuted“. For most, the decision to visit was rewarded with a nostalgic holiday and more wonderful memories and some even decided to move back to Iran. But for some, listening to Rouhani led them straight to arrests, interrogations and jail time, away from their work, friends and families back home in the West.

Their stories should be heard by the Iranian diaspora as a warning that Iran may be on the path of returning to the global community following the signing of the JCPoA, but the regime there remains antagonistic to anyone who criticizes it in the past, present or near future.

 

Returning Back to Jail

evinHere are a few examples of Iranians who decided to take the risk and return to their “homeland” only to find themselves in jails:

Most of these prisoners underwent bogus trials in which they had limited access to their lawyers and families and most suffered humiliations and didn’t receive proper medical treatment while in jail. There are probably many more examples but these should suffice: Iranians living abroad should be aware that returning to Iran may be a great idea in theory but could lead them to jail.

 

Waiting to Return

Other Iranians are being much more cautious and are waiting for more positive signs from Tehran before they fly out to visit. They are homesick for their country, they miss their families and they want to develop careers in Iran but they don’t want to end up in jail. It’s worth watching this movie which highlights the dilemma of a few prominent Iranian artists (Nikzad Nojoomi and Melody Safavi), and journalists (Masih Alinejad and Roozbeh Mirebrahimi) living abroad:

Furthermore, Western businesses who want to capitalize on the potential of the Iranian economy post-JCPoA are finding it hard to convince Iranians living in the West to return back to Iran to help establish their businesses there. These people can easily earn $15,000 a month working in Iran – local Iranians would earn only $5,000 a month for the same job. These Westernized Iranians understand fully the potential of moving to Iran as far as money is concerned but they are weary of losing their freedom.

 

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