UPDATE 25- On Fourth Anniversary of Nizar Zakka’s Abduction

Open Letter from Nizar Zakka, Former Iran Hostage, On the Fourth Anniversary of his Abduction

On this day four years ago, kidnappers decided to make September 18, 2015, a turning point in my life. The only motivation was to make me a pawn in their campaign against the emerging spirit of openness in their country, a process which was heading toward the nuclear deal.

On this day, four years ago, I was forced to begin a journey of the harshest bitterness, pain and sorrow. My only fault was that, on that day, I was in the wrong place at the wrong time, on my way back from Tehran to Beirut, concluding an official working visit at the invitation of the Iranian Presidency. 

Zakka Return Photo
Pictured: Nizar Zakka Arrival in Lebanon before returning to the United States.

This has been a crushing ordeal for me and my family. You can’t imagine the suffering this causes until you’ve lived it. This ordeal has changed me, permanently. I can’t rest; I can’t sleep. My waking hours are filled with pain. During my fitful hours of sleep, these dreams torture my soul. My  priorities have changed. The wound is brutal and painful. I had not imagined that its impact could be so horrific, a horror I live with every day. Family is my one comfort, especially my three brave sons who risked so much to bring about my release.

Today I spent the fourth anniversary of my detention alone in the presence of God, in silent isolation. I wanted to be away from anyone, even from my family. I try to forgive, to overcome injustice and pain. I strive to gather the broken pieces of my life and emerge from my distress, in order to regain the rest of my life that the kidnappers so brutally tried to take from me. They unjustly and oppressively robbed from me 4 years, which I feel was more like 4 decades. My life was turned upside down. My family was scattered, and my three children were denied parental care at the most critical and delicate times in their lives. I lost my job and everything I struggled for over the past 30 years.

It is no secret that my priorities have changed, and that my view of life and of people has changed. I want to spend the rest of my life ensuring that no one suffers what I endured, an innocent oppressed in the face of my executioner. This is my message and the message left to my conscience by all those who contributed to my victory, my rescue and my liberation, including my family, the Lebanese people, the U.S. Congress, the international community, and many many others. This is my message towards those who are still suffering in Evin and in any other prison around the world, waiting for their moment of freedom.

I will make sure that my great pain gets invested in the service of peace, and I will strive every day to bring more attention to the issues of hostages and forcibly detained people, so that the forces of evil will not find a single shrine to declare a delusional victory over right and good.

For all this, I am in a hurry to heal, fully aware of the difficulty of the process of liberation from Evin’s pain and thick wounds.

I take the sad moment of the fourth anniversary of my detainment to ask the Secretary-General of the United Nations to take all possible measures to secure the release of the hostages in any detention facility, particularly in Iran. I ask the Secretary-General to explore every possible path in order to prevent innocent people rotting away in dehumanizing prisons, and used as blackmail and bargaining in the game of nations.

I ask you, Mr. Secretary-General, to stop, once and for all, this great injustice that will only bring about more injustice, and the hatred that will only produce further hatred.

Nizar Zakka

Former US Hostage of Iran