Grandpa Kamal: Imprisoned in Iran for five years and counting
By Kamran Foroughi
Five years next week. More than 1,800 groundhog days and counting. The wait is endless. How many more days are left? It could be one. It could be as many as the rest of my dad’s life.
We all feel dad’s sentence every day. Will he ever come out? Will he ever come home and see his family again?
On 5 May 2011, then aged 71, my dad Kamal Foroughi was taken to Evin Prison in Tehran, Iran, for questioning and kept in solitary confinement for 18 months. No reason was ever given for his arrest. He was found guilty of alleged 'espionage' in April 2013 – with no evidence ever provided to justify the charge.
My dad had no criminal record at the time of his arrest, has now served more than half his sentence and has behaved well in Evin Prison. He has often been told he has a good chance of release 'next week' or 'next month' and yet that day never seems to come. I’m sure this constant oscillation between hope and despair is damaging his health. It’s certainly painful for the rest of his family.
76-year-old Grandpa Kamal has not seen his daughter, son or granddaughters for over five years.
The first three years were the worst. No contact whatsoever. Since August 2014 at least he has been allowed to call us regularly.
What are world leaders doing about this tragic farce?
The UK Foreign Office keeps saying it is doing everything it can. The UK Prime Minister David Cameron wrote to President Rouhani on 16 October 2015 but as far as I am aware there has been no reply. (Join the club Prime Minister. We have also written many letters to Iranian leaders, and never received a reply.)
On 19 January 2016 Iranian President Hassan Rouhani promised to look carefully at my father’s case acknowledging the humanitarian concern – since then nothing. On 2 February UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said he was very confident my father would be released soon – since then nothing. In March EU Foreign Affairs Lead Federica Mogherini confirmed she has raised the case and expressed her concerns about dad’s health and lack of contact with his family. This week United Nations human rights experts expressed serious concerns about Dad’s lack of medical treatment. Our experience suggests none of this will make a difference – but we have to keep hoping.
Our worry is that now the nuclear deal between Iran and countries including the UK and the US has been settled, European governments (including the UK) could easily put profits before people. As each big business deal with Iran is announced, Grandpa Kamal’s case quickly becomes forgotten. We want Grandpa Kamal to be the number one priority in dealings with Iran – but will this happen?
Parliament’s independent Foreign Affairs Committee seems to share our concerns – it recently announced it will start keeping a close eye on what the Foreign Office is doing on my dad’s case (he is one of only three Britons in prisons worldwide with this parliamentary oversight).
Meanwhile, dad is still in Evin Prison, still alive thank god. My young daughters barely remember their Grandpa Kamal and keep asking me when he is coming home. I do not have an answer. I worry about where my dad will die – Evin Prison or at home with family? The choice is yours, Iran.
Go on Iran, show the world your humanity, before it is too late. Grandpa Kamal’s life is ticking away.
Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.