The United Nations Children's Fund on March 3 expressed concern about the health of an elderly former staff member who was jailed in Iran last week. Baquer Namazi was arrested on February 22 and taken to Tehran's Evin Prison, where his son Siamak has been jailed since October. Both Namazis are dual U.S.-Iranian citizens.
Baquer Namazi, now 80, was an Iranian provincial governor who served as UNICEF's representative in various African countries before retiring in 1996.
NEW YORK, 3 March 2016 - Current and former UNICEF colleagues are deeply concerned about the health and wellbeing of Baquer Namazi, who was detained in Iran on February 22.
Mr. Namazi dedicated many years of his career to improving the lives of some of the world’s most disadvantaged and vulnerable children, often working in difficult and even dangerous circumstances. Before his retirement in 1996, he served UNICEF with distinction as representative in Somalia, Kenya, and Egypt, among other posts.
A letter of commendation by former UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy best expresses Mr. Namazi’s dedication and commitment to the cause of children:
“You served with honour and distinction and acquitted yourself as an individual with...a deep personal commitment to making life better for children and women. Your pioneering work on children affected by war broke new ground and led the way to greater attention that the world gives today to children in especially difficult circumstances. With similar dedication, you helped bring the Convention on the Rights of the Child to life...and the cause of the world’s children will not be the same again. Behind all these contributions, I see a man whose strength derives from a rare base of spiritual courage and moral convictions, a man who has been able to reach for the sky because his feet are firmly on the ground. From me and your many colleagues in UNICEF, please accept a humble expression of gratitude on behalf of the countless children and women whose lives you have changed and who do not know your name.”
Our thoughts are with our respected former colleague and his family, and we hope he will be reunited soon with his wife and loved ones.
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: www.unicef.org
The elderly Namazi has a serious heart condition which requires special medication, his wife said.
Iran has not issued formal charges against either man. Friends of Siamak Namazi have said that he may have become a pawn in factional struggles among hardliners, pragmatists, and reformers.
Elections in Iran last week strengthened centrists and reformists allied with President Hassan Rohani.
With reporting by Reuters
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