Monday, July 07, 2008

Families of missing Jews make last plea to Olmert

Jerusalem - The families of 12 missing Iranian Jews, believed to be imprisoned in Teheran, have written to Israeli Prime Minister Olmert urging him to meet with them before Israel undertakes a pending deal with the Hezbollah terrorist organization, David Bedein writes in the Philadelphia Bulletin.

The families have said they will demand that Israel not release any information concerning the fate of four missing Iranian officials to the United Nations without receiving information on their disappeared loved ones as well.

The 12 Jews were arrested in the 1990s as they sought to escape from Iran across the Pakistan border. The Iranian diplomats were captured by Christian militia forces in South Lebanon in 1982 during the first Israeli-Lebanon War.

Among the missing Jews is Babak Teherani, the son of Los Angeles parents, Ilana Cohen-Teherani and Yousef Shaouliian Teherani who is believed to have been arrested in Iran 14 years ago while attempting to cross the border and was spotted in a Tehran prison several years after his disappearance. Babak was arrested near the Iran-Pakistan just prior to his attempt to escape, on or around June 10, 1994 and was only 14 went he disappeared. A Muslim neighbor from Tehran, who later joined the Teherani family in Los Angeles, has testified that he saw the boy, and other of the 11 missing Jews, alive and well in a dark and damp Tehran prison in 1996.

The urgent letter, sent to the prime minister by the Teherani family's attorney Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, director of the Shurat HaDin-Israel Law Center human rights organization, demands that the prime minister not authorize the transfer of information regarding the missing Iranian diplomats until such time as reliable and detailed information is received about the fate of all the missing Iranian Jews. The families have never received any acknowledgment of their loved ones' arrests, status or whereabouts from the Islamic regime. (...)

The letter to the PM argues that there be a "quid pro quo" on information about their family members in exchange for the release of the details on the fate of the missing Iranians.

Read article in full

Much effort has been devoted to freeing Karnit Goldwasser from the status of aguna (chained wife) as long as the fate of her husband Ehud, captured by Hezbollah, remains to be determined. But what of the plight of four other agunot, the wives of Jews captured as they attempted to leave Iran, and thought to be languishing in Iranian jails since the 1990s?
Dr Aaron Lerner comments:

"When the Olmert Cabinet voted last week to, among other things, provide information on the fate of four missing Iranian officials in return for the bodies of Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev they ostensibly gave priority to the need to free Karnit Goldwasser from her aguna (unable to remarry) status against the chances of trading this information in order to resolve the status of four other agunot.

"I say "ostensibly" because it is far from clear that the Olmert Cabinet even considered the fates of Nahid Farangian, Simcha Razakansari, Orit Rabizadeh, and Linda Balazadeh (Ram), the four wives of Iranian Jews arrested in the 1990s as they sought to escape from Iran across the border with Pakistan.

"None of these women may remarry because it is believed that their husbands are still alive and wallowing in Iranian prisons.

"The only bargaining chip Israel holds to help resolve their fate is the information it has on the Iranian diplomats."

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