Iran Re-Enacts U.S. Navy Kidnapping to Celebrate Anniversary of Revolution

AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi
AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi

The U.S. Navy has condemned Iran’s new propaganda film, in which a U.S. sailor is shown weeping in captivity, as “outrageous and unacceptable.” Meanwhile, a defiant Iran is re-enacting the capture of the American sailors on January 10 as street theater, during celebrations marking the anniversary of the Iranian revolution.

“As Secretary Kerry has said, we are disgusted by the exploitation of our Sailors in Iranian propaganda. The detention of our personnel was outrageous and unacceptable,” said Naval Forces Central Command spokesman Cmdr. Kevin Stephens, as reported by the Navy Times.

Upon initial news of the Iranian abduction of sailors, Secretary of State John Kerry thanked the Iranians for their “cooperation and quick response,” adding that the Navy men and woman had been “well taken care of,” despite the female sailor being forced to don Islamic headwear.

Kerry credited President Obama’s Iranian nuclear deal with making a smooth diplomatic resolution of the crisis possible. “I think we can all imagine how a similar situation might have played out three or four years ago,” he said on January 13, after the sailors had been freed. “In fact it is clear that today this kind of issue was able to be peacefully resolved and officially resolved, and that is a testament to the critical role that diplomacy plays in keeping our country safe, secure and strong.”

The administration’s line did not change until much later, after Iranian media began publishing photos and videos of the sailors’ detention. “I was very, very angry at it,” the Navy Times recalls Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter saying on January 28. “I can tell you, Americans wouldn’t have done that. I said that before that for me as Secretary of Defense — I think it’s probably true of everybody in the department — to see our guys in that situation on Iranian TV, that’s really not okay.”

Cmdr. Stephens added of the affair:

Professional mariners understand that it is a duty and obligation to assist other mariners who suffer mechanical problems or who find themselves off track at sea. The responsible action for the Iranians to have taken upon discovering our RCBs [Riverine Command Boats] in their waters would have been to calmly and peacefully direct our RCBs out of their territorial waters or offer assistance if the apparent mechanical issues in one of the boats prevented them from departing immediately.

Using images of the prisoners for propaganda purposes, especially the video of a prisoner in distress, is a blatant violation of the Geneva Conventions. A defiant Iran re-enacted the capture of the American sailors during a parade in Tehran on Thursday, to mark the 37th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution:

Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan is a special guest at these “celebrations” and, in fact, is scheduled to speak along with President Hassan Rouhani to celebrate Iran’s developments in drone and missile technology.


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