Our friend, Iranian-American consultant Siamak Namazi, has been in Tehran's Evin prison for six months. He has not been charged with a crime, and his detention has no legal basis. Access to Siamak's lawyer has been denied. His health is at risk. He has been through a hunger strike and intense interrogations for the last nine months.
Make no mistake: Siamak is innocent.
The longer his unjust detention continues, the more responsibility we feel to make sure his story is not forgotten. News dies when there are no developments, so in an effort to help keep Siamak's story alive, the four of us - his classmates from the London Business School's Executive MBA program - would like to share the following testimonials with the world.
Printed on the back of our class t-shirt, there is a picture of a dancing elephant. The elephant is there to symbolize the expression "the elephant in the room" - a situation where you have an issue that's obvious to everyone, but deliberately ignored because it's too controversial or taboo to discuss. We have this elephant on our class t-shirt because one person in our class would never hold his silence or shy away from controversial issues or embarrassing topics. This person was Siamak Namazi.
I met Siamak in Dubai at our first class in the London Business School's Executive MBA program. In a class of 63 students, it takes some time to get to know everyone. Siamak isn't loud or extroverted, nor does he seek the spotlight, so it took a while before I got to know him. But I am so glad that I did. Siamak is one of the smartest people I've met: Extremely knowledgeable and analytical; always thinks before he speaks; and whatever comes out of his mouth leaves an impact.
It breaks my heart that Siamak and his elderly father are in prison. The world needs people like Siamak -- people who aren't afraid to stand up for what they believe in and speak up about the elephant in the room.
Ulrika Hedlund, Founder of a Technology Adoption Company
Siamak was beyond a classmate. He's a fantastic guy that has a positive spin on everything. We'd spend hours debating the various possible outcomes in our case studies, and just before we'd agree to disagree, he'd throw in his positive spin and make the big picture clear to everyone in our team - miraculously building the bridge that would bring us all together again.
This is his nature: A person that works hard to converge ideas and bring out the best in teams. He'd always speak up about what's right, and he'd be willing to remind people of the big picture.
I thoroughly enjoyed having him as a part of our study group, and I learned so much from him. Not only was he an active learner, he was pleasant and patient. He had lots of experience in life and with people, and often times these were the only ingredients to help us crack our case studies. His kindness and generosity topped it all as he would be the one picking up the check for all of our coffee and treats. The little things that matter about a person - What a guy!
Basem Abu Dagga, Founder of an Educational Investment Company
I believe it is very hard to forget Siamak if you ever get the chance to meet him and have a more-than-casual talk with him. You will be struck by his sharpness, knowledge and sense of humor. If you were lucky enough to see him over a period of more than five years, like me, you will realize that there is much more than that to his personality. I came to know Siamak from the early days of our Executive MBA program at London Business School. He was very transparent in expressing his views in a direct yet respectful way regardless of how strong those views were. Throughout the years I came to know that this transparency and ability to articulate his thoughts were a result of a solid value system and commitment to high principles and morals.
Our discussions opened my mind to see many things from new angles, especially when he showed me his work on the effects of sanctions on the pharmaceutical industry in Iran. He was consistent in his love of Iran and its people, and he always believed in the prospects of its bright future. When it came to personal gains and fame, I think Siamak didn't really care much. He selflessly put Iran and its people and future above everything else in his life.
I am personally saddened that such a patriotic person like Siamak is deprived of his freedom without committing any crime at a time when Iran is being welcomed back to the world stage. I hope that he is released soon.
Husam Osman Mahjoub, Head of Sales at a Telecom Company
I first met Siamak, or Sia as his classmates affectionately know him, at his office in Dubai. After talking to him for 10 or 15 minutes, I remember being thoroughly impressed. Not only is Sia extremely intelligent, but also soft-spoken, polite and unassuming. During our business school class, Sia would ask well thought-out questions to the professor, and was a big champion of openness and transparency. Sia is gutsy and unafraid to speak his mind on controversial topics, but he is also extremely friendly and a genuinely nice guy.
We met for coffee after our MBA program when I wanted to pick his brain about my new venture. The conversation moved quickly from discussions about business to his social work. It was then that I realized Sia's passion was not in business, entrepreneurship, or in making money, but in helping his motherland, Iran.
Amongst other things, we spoke about his efforts to persuade authorities to lift medical sanctions against Iran so that ordinary Iranians would have access to potentially life-saving medication. I thought it was a thankless job. He is a rare breed that follows his heart no matter what - and I respect him for it. Iran is doing itself a disservice by imprisoning him and his ailing 80-year-old father. Sia is an Iranian patriot, a true son of the soil, and an asset to Iran - and he should be released.
Ajay Vaswani, Entrepreneur