Liberty is precious and must never be taken for granted. Never allow people, governments, or organizations to meddle with liberty! When they do, hold violators to account, and take concrete steps to remove any obstacles that infringe on fundamental freedoms.
For those of us who live in the United States, give thanks. Liberty is the bedrock of our people. For centuries, the people of this fantastic Republic have righted wrongs and challenged future generations to improve and strengthen the nation. And while there is room for improvement, we live in the most magnificent and exceptional corner of the universe.
I’ll have more to say about this subject in 2020. For now, at the end of this post are a few links to stories about two remarkable men who languished for more than three years in Iran’s notorious Evin Prison – a prison in name only. It is a torture chamber used by the Iranian regime to punish men and women that they deem politically expedient to do so.
Nizar and Xiyue will undoubtedly have much to say in the months and years ahead about their respective journeys. They are reminders of the universality of American values and the lengths to which the nation must go when an American is in trouble. The following stories are incomplete, but begin to provide a picture of what these brave men experienced the past few years.
As 2019 draws to a close, there are Americans held hostage or otherwise unlawfully detained in many nations, including in Iran, Cuba, Venezuela, and, I am told by U.S. policymakers, in other countries. Each hostage or unlawful detention case is unique, but are united by a common thread connected to America.
American policymakers, and other stakeholders, such as U.S. allies whose nationals are held hostage in places such as Iran, Cuba, and other nations, must do more to bring hostages home. In the process, the U.S. and other responsible actors must make clear to the captors, and would-be captors, that there will be a high price to pay, more than economic sanctions, for taking Americans hostages in the future.
- Inside the U.S.-Iran Prisoner Swap and What Comes Next, Al-Monitor (Dec. 19, 2019).
- Iran’s Hostage Factory, The Washington Post (Nov. 4, 2019).
- Trump orders visa ban for family members of Iranian officials, NBC News (Aug. 25, 2019).
- The Americans Left Behind in Iran, The Atlantic (Aug. 23, 2019).
- Iran’s release of Lebanese prisoner was failed overture to the U.S., Reuters (Jul. 10, 2019).
- Iran Releases U.S. Citizen Charged with Spying, The New York Times (June 10, 2019).
- Families of Americans Held Hostage in Iran Push for Meeting with Trump, Real Clear Politics (Mar. 12, 2019).
- Top Rouhani adviser says government failed US resident jailed in Iran, Times of Israel (Sep. 14, 2018).
- Matter of Nizar Zakka, Hostage in Iran – select videos on You Tube.