Where is Bijan Khajehpour?

By Paul Taylor
July 29, 2009

Bijan KhajehpourOn June 27, Iranian business consultant Bijan Khajehpour landed at Tehran’s Imam Khomeini Airport on a flight from London. His driver saw him in the arrival lounge. Bijan was paged over the loudspeaker and taken away by security men. He has not been seen for more than a month. He has had no access to lawyers. His wife and two young daughters do not know who is holding him, where or why. He is a diabetic and his family fears for his health.

Khajehpour is one of hundreds of Iranians who have been arrested since protests erupted over a disputed presidential election on June 12 in which President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was officially declared the winner. Unlike many of those locked up, he is not a political activist, a demonstrator or a journalist. Indeed, he was out of the country, giving talks to business groups in Vienna and London, at the height of the protests.

Khajehpour has dedicated the last 16 years to encouraging and helping foreign companies to invest in Iran. He founded a company, Atieh Bahar Consulting, with his wife, Pari Namazie, which advises firms on how to do business in Iran, guides them through the the Islamic Republic’s thickets of red tape and explains the complex political and regulatory environment. A multilingual economist with degrees from universities and business schools in Germany, Britain and France, he has writen scholarly articles on the Iranian economy.

I first met Bijan at an oil industry conference in London in 1997 and visited him several times at his offices in Tehran. A proud patriot, he chose to return home rather than make his fortune comfortably in Europe after his studies. He explains the political economy of Iran economics with passion and an irrepressible optimism. When he is not busy promoting Iran as a business location, he is active as Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Science and Arts Foundation in Iran, an NGO focusing on the empowerment of Iranian youth through information technology. An active intellectual in civil society, he has devoted his life to improving the economy, education and opportunities for poor people in his country.

Bijan is only one of the hundreds of people detained without trial in Iran in the last month. Each has a name and face, friends and a family. This is just one such tale.

5 comments

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Bijan Khajehpour is one of the most decent people I have ever known in my life. He is a good husband, a good father and an excellent human being. Please return him to his family as soon as possible.

Posted by Bijan Shahrakhi | Report as abusive

I had the pleasure of having dinner with Bijan the night before he flew home to Tehran.

A brilliant calm, clever man who did nothing but delight everyone with his company, glowing with pride about his wonderful country. His candour contained no derogatory remarks about his home and all references about Iran and its people made us all want to visit and witness the amazing heritage.

He surely wasn’t to know that in 24hrs the same country would behave in such a disgraceful, inhumane manner.

Now, thanks to this regime, no-one wants to visit Iran, his proud testaments are all in vain and moreover its reputation worldwide is sullied interminably through despicable acts such as this described here.

The die is cast and it’ll be a long time before brilliant Iranians, like Bijan, will be able to sing out with confidence and with a full heart, the praise of Iran again.

Free Bijan Khajehpour. NOW.

Posted by AB | Report as abusive

I know Bijan for more than 7 years and the only thing i can say is that whatever said above is not enough in explaining how good is Bijan.

Bijan has been and i am sure still on of the best (inf not the best) ambassadors of Iran when it come to business and much more importantly, the Iranian themselves. He was always very optimistic of the future of the country and the overall region. Bijan has been utilizing every single opportunity when speaking in conferences or meeting business people in reflecting his optimism of the country.

Bijan is a very successful businessman with a PHD degree who selected to settle in Iran, his country while he can be more successful if stayed abroad. It is a shame for us, people of the region to treat our good people in the way Bijan has been treated.

Free Bijan, your best ambassador. NOW.

Posted by BHA | Report as abusive

I lived in Iran for five years because my husband was working in Tehran for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. Bijan and Pari were among our closest friends. Bijan has done more to help the Iranian business world than anyone I know. He is bright, hardworking, and loves his country very much. He could have got a job anywhere in the world but he chose to stay in Iran. Please free him. He is a huge asset to the Islamic Republic but not only that he is kind, warm, serious and fun. We are all waiting for news.

Posted by Jane Howard | Report as abusive

I know Bijan Khajehpour since 20 years. Bijan is a a patriotic, ethical man, who loves Iran and worked all his life to make his country a better place.

His arrest will surely have a negative effect on foreign investment in Iran – of which Bijan was always a promoter.

I am very concerned for his health being a diabetic.

Posted by PH | Report as abusive