I am an Attorney based in New York we have a mutual friend who was a follower and admirer of your old paper in Wisconsin and he suggested I send this to you.
The day we talked about Moses, whose leadership and reaction to hardships we both admired, I tried to keep hope alive while desperately searching for solutions in light of the recently announced nuclear deal. However, even seemingly hopeless situations contain within them their own solution. Emad is an inspiration to defining one’s destiny, reshaping one’s future in a free land, not as a slaves of a regimes and worldview, but as a spirit triumphing over all obstacles.
Emadeddin Tayefeh was raised with a vision of a secular liberal democracy modeled after the United States. Emad excelled in filmmaking under the tutelage of Mohammed Nourizad, who formed a human rights organization “Eshgh”. Emad could have had an easy life, attending Shomal University, one of the top universities in the country. Instead, he became involved in the Green Movement, as an election observer, later as an activist. His reports of fraud in the presidential elections in 2009 led to imprisonment and torture. Unlike many who fled the country after a few months of involvement in the Green Movement, Emad stayed on for many years, despite being forced to sign false confessions. In 2010, Emad helped formed The Art Club, which clandestinely reached out to the Jewish students on campus and Israeli and American Jews in chat rooms in a peace building effort.
Emad’s Jewish counterpart was a student named Kourosh Hamadani-Cohen, possibly a pro-regime spy. After a year, The Art Club was betrayed. He tried to reconnect with Kourosh after being freed, but Kourosh refused to speak to him and soon disappeared. When Emad searched for him, the authorities threatened him with his life. Emad’s support for Israel and interest in Jews outlasted all the tortures and beatings. Emad organized protests to free his cousin Mohammed Amin Valian, sentenced to death penalty, but who managed to escape to the United States. Emad was expelled from his masters program and fired from his job. Mohammed Nourizad commissioned Emad to make a short documentary about the human rights movement in Iran. Twice Emad attempted to fulfill his mission, but both times was interrupted by the intelligence. In January 2015, he finally decided to finish the film despite all risks, while also trying to find a way out of the country and into the United States.
In the harrowing months that followed our connection in late March, he was assaulted on the street and once arrested and tortured in some underground location. For most of our time together, he was in hiding. Unlike the many “dissidents” that become famous because the regime allows them to do so, and, Emad never received any outside support or acknowledgment.
In the summer of 2015, and despite all obstacles, including having to film with a broken wrist from the beating he has received, Emad completed his documentary, and made a daring escape to relative freedom in Turkey, bearing witness to the worsening of human rights situation in Iran after the signing of the nuclear deal, and smuggling out the film footage.
Emad has less than a month of legal stay remaining in Turkey, where works 12 hours a day for free at a film center in exchange for a couple of hours to edit his film. The artistic and political value of the film that almost had cost Emad his life is such that a well-known documentary film company offered to produce and distribute “The Public Enemies”, on condition that Emad comes to the US to finish the edits. Emad’s life remains in danger in an increasingly xenophobic environment. He has received a “private” phone call, consistent with the IRGC’s pattern of psychological warfare on dissidents. He has had to replace his sim card and flee.
So what makes Emad different from so many other dissidents? The answer, simply, is everything. Emad stands out as a paragon of persistence, moral fortitude, and open-mindedness towards other cultures, compassion, work ethic and dedication to art. Emad is a remarkable person, who will not only be a star in his own field, but a catalyst of new paradigms and creative directions in the dissident movement.
Please contact Congress and the State Department and ask to save Emad’s life by providing him with Advance Humanitarian Parole. In addition to the inherent value we place in each person, Emad will serve the United States well, not just because he admires Moses, but also because he emulates him every day.
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