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Daughter’s Plea To Germany: Rescue My Dad From Iranian Executioner

By Jake Beardslee · July 17, 2023

German citizen Jamshid Sharmahd (pictured in blue-striped prison garb) faces execution in Iran  Tasnim News Agency, CC BY 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Gazelle Sharmahd, the daughter of Jamshid Sharmahd who is facing execution in Iran, recently spoke to her father by phone for the first time in two years. Sharmahd is a German citizen who was born in Iran but has lived in Germany for 40 years and the United States for 20 years. Iran accuses him of planning an attack on a mosque and sentenced him to death earlier this year. His family vehemently denies the charges and says he was kidnapped by Iranian intelligence in Dubai three years ago and taken to Iran against his will.

In an emotional interview with DW, Gazelle Sharmahd said her father “sounded very, very weak” during their brief phone call, adding, “That’s because he’s been held in solitary confinement for over 1,000 days, being tortured, not being able to see anybody but the people who torture him and who tried to get forced confessions out of him. And that breaks you. Even the strongest person breaks under these kind of pressures.” Mr. Sharmahd has been subjected to eight trials that his family describes as shams with trumped up charges. 

Ms. Sharmahd stressed that her father is completely innocent of the charges lodged against him, sayng, “My dad has denied all charges, just like all of the political prisoners that are right now on death row in Iran. All of them are innocent. They are simply speaking their minds and being punished for it.” She added, the charges are a way for the regime to silence dissent through state intimidation.

Sharmahd, however, believes Teheran has ulterior motives for allowing her to speak to her father, noting, “When you speak to your dad for the first time in years, you’re absolutely happy just to hear his voice and to know that he’s alive,” adding sadly “I just know when the regime does something like that, there’s always something sinister behind it, always something that they want to achieve with it.” 

While German authorities have been in regular contact with Sharmahd, she believes Berlin has been largely hands off with Iranian authorities. “My government hasn’t even demanded the release of my dad,” she said. “They haven’t even demanded the release of their hostages,” a reference to several other German citizens also being held in Iran. “That is absolutely scandalous to know that your government doesn’t even ask for his release. How can they get him out? How can they save his life when they’re not even calling him a hostage, when they’re not even demanding his release?”

Sharmahd has called for more international pressure on Iran to release her father and other political prisoners facing execution. She fears the next call she gets will be to inform her of her father’s demise, predicting, “Next week they will publish the news or not publish the news that my dad was executed.”

Light Wave commentary

Jamshid Sharmahd’s 1,000 days of confinement and torture in Iran constitute a certain travesty of justice. The anguish it has caused his family is itself a crime. Even most startling is the German government’s apparent unwillingness to press for the release of Mr. Sharmahd, a German citizen. The confluence of diplomacy, geopolitics and the vulnerable families that powerless in the face of an unjust execution of a loved one is all too commonplace in an increasingly complex world where cynical calulation too often trumps principled humanity.