Prominent Human Rights Activist Takes His Life in Tehran After Long Struggle With Regime

Iranian human rights activist and friend Banafsheh Zand Bonazzi reported the very sad news that her dear father Siamak Pourzand ended his life recently in Iran. The leading dissident had struggled against the Khomeini regime for over 30 years. Ben S. Cohen at the Huffington Post compared Pourzand to internationally recognized dissidents Nelson Mandela or Vaclav Havel.


One of Iran’s greatest intellectuals willingly fell to his death from the sixth-floor balcony of his Tehran apartment. Siamak Pourzand had held out long enough against the Islamic Republic. (Telegraph)

The 80-year-old journalist and essayist leapt to his own death after years of abusive treatment by the killer regime.

The Washington Times reported:

A leading Iranian dissident has killed himself in what appeared to be a final act of defiance against the Iranian regime that had nearly ruined him.

Farsi-language websites reported over the weekend the death Friday of Siamak Pourzand, an 80-year-old journalist and essayist who was one of his country’s leading political and cultural writers before the 1979 revolution that later brought a theocratic regime to power.

After the revolution, Mr. Pourzand became one of the main writers affiliated with Iran’s domestic secular opposition in the 1990s.

According to his children, Mr. Pourzand jumped from the sixth-floor balcony of his apartment in Tehran, where he has been under house arrest for the last five years.

“My father was a secularist, and he believed the culture of Iran needed to be safeguarded from the religious revolutionaries in 1979,” said his daughter, Banafsheh Zand-Bonazzi in a phone interview Sunday.

“So he stayed in Iran, when he was given many opportunities to leave. He loved Iran, and he gave his life for the freedom of his country. He leapt to his own death to prove his disgust for a regime that is inhumane and un-Iranian.”

Mr. Pourzand’s suicide is a reminder that the first generation of Iranians who stayed in Iran after the revolution but opposed the clerical rule of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini will likely not live to see a democratic Iran.

Today, many of the initial supporters of the 1979 revolution have turned on the current regime. The opposition intensified after the 2009 elections that pro-democracy advocates of the “Green Movement” accused the government of stealing to ensure the re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

In the 1960s and 1970s, Mr. Pourzand was a correspondent for Keyhan newspaper. He interviewed President Richard M. Nixon and covered the funeral for President John F. Kennedy. He also covered Hollywood and became of one of Iran’s best known film critics, penning essays for the French film journal, Cahiers du Cinema (Notebooks of the Cinema).

Please keep Banafsheh, her sisters and the Iranian dissidents in your thoughts and prayers.

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