Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Ganji's Wife Appeals to the World  

Source: The New York Sun

BY ELI LAKE - Staff Reporter of the Sun
August 2, 2005

WASHINGTON - Defying warnings from the Iranian regime ordering her not to talk to foreign reporters, the wife of dissident journalist Akbar Ganji yesterday told The New York Sun that she has had no choice but to appeal to the international community to save the life of her husband, who today enters Day 53 of a hunger strike. Meanwhile in New York, a spokesman for Secretary-General Annan says his boss has personally intervened with the mullahs on Mr. Ganji's behalf.

In an exclusive telephone interview yesterday, Massoumeh Shafieh said: "We are appealing to the United Nations, human rights groups, and other nations to pressure our government to release my husband. Our struggle must reach out past the borders of Iran now. Our leaders will not listen to their people, they will only respond to external pressure."

Ms. Shafieh said she saw her husband yesterday at Tehran's Milad Hospital and said his health was deteriorating. Mr. Ganji was rushed on July 18 to Milad from Evin Prison, where he had been held since June 11. He was rearrested last month for urging his countrymen to boycott Iran's recent presidential elections after having been temporarily released to seek medical attention for his asthma; the writer deemed fraudulent June's political race, the results of which will bring hard-liner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad into office on August 6. Mr. Ganji was originally arrested for publishing a series of articles that accused regime leaders of ordering a chain of murders of dissident intellectuals in the late 1990s, and his struggle and hunger strike have made him a hero of Iran's democratic movement.

At one point during Ms. Shafieh's visit to the hospital yesterday, she said, Mr. Ganji tried to stand up after armed guards cursed him only to collapse on the floor from the debilitating effects of his hunger strike that begain on June 11, the day he was most recently taken into custody.

"When he was on the floor, the guards photographed him. It was humiliating," she said. "I was crying so much when I saw him."

Ms. Shafieh confirmed for the Sun the authenticity of Mr. Ganji's recent open letters, including one to a dissident cleric, Ayatollah Hussein Ali Montazeri, who has, like Mr. Ganji, called on the supreme leader to relinquish power or stand for election.

"Ganji is physically weak, but he is still mentally very strong," his wife said yesterday.

Nonetheless, she said she is now very worried about his health and treatment. "They are trying to break him," she said. Ms. Shafieh went on to say that in a private conversation, the prosecutor that ordered his arrest, Saeed Mortazavi, threatened Mr. Ganji's life at the hospital, where Mr. Mortazavi sent special armed guards to watch Mr. Ganji 24 hours a day.

"Mr. Mortazavi told my husband, 'If you die it will better for the regime. We will put you in a remote place, and in a week or two we will give the number of your tombstone where your family will mourn for you, but they will not mourn for you publicly. They may not arrange a funeral or proper burial but privately I will let them mourn you,'" she said yesterday.

Throughout the interview, Ms. Shafieh said her phone was tapped and the reception faded in and out where faint clicks could be heard in the background. But despite the surveillance, Ms. Shafieh was open in her criticism of the regime.

Ms. Shafieh's plea for international solidarity has attracted in the last six weeks calls for his unconditional release from President Bush, Natan Sharansky, Vaclav Havel, MIT linguist Noam Chomsky, and Bishop Desmond Tutu. Even European Union leaders, whose colleagues are currently negotiating with the Iranian government over its nuclear program, have demanded that Mr. Ganji be freed.

Despite eliciting support from leaders across the globe, until yesterday U.N. Secretary-General Annan had not made a statement on Mr. Ganji's detention. On July 13, Mr. Annan said he did know enough about the political prisoner's circumstances to speak about his case. His spokesman, Stephane Dujarric told the Sun yesterday, however, that "The secretary-general is fully aware of Mr. Ganji's case," adding that "A number of U.N. human rights experts have expressed their profound concern regarding Mr. Ganji's detention and, especially, the lack of medical attention."

Mr. Annan "has been using his good offices and has made direct representations with Iranian officials at a senior level regarding Mr. Ganji in an effort to resolve the situation," Mr. Dujarric said.

Ms. Shafieh said in yesterday's interview that she was unaware of any efforts on the part of the United Nations to raise the profile of Mr. Ganji's case. She said that she would be leading a demonstration on Wednesday in front of the U.N. mission in Tehran asking for support with members of an Iranian student organization, Tahkim Vahdat.

When asked for her reaction to a statement by a former Iranian president, Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, calling for Mr. Ganji's release, she said she was unimpressed. Mr. Ganji's 1999 book, "The Red and the Gray Eminences" singles out Mr. Rafsanjani as one of the Iranian leaders who ordered the assassination of intellectuals.

"When Rafsanjani said this he was smelling danger. If anything happens, he will say he was innocent and tried to help so as not to be condemned," she said. "But if anything happens, it is too late for him or the others to say they are innocent and have not committed crimes. All of them, the whole entity, has committed crimes and now they are asking for his release."

Even as many Iranian leaders, including the outgoing president, Mohammed Khatemi, call for the release of Mr. Ganji, the political climate has worsened for Iranian dissidents. The Associated Press reported yesterday that Mr. Ganji's lawyer, Abdolfattah Soltani, has been arrested on espionage charges. Activists last night told the Sun that his whereabouts were unknown.

At the end of the interview last night, Ms. Shafieh said that she was asking for support for her husband not only because "he is the father of my two children," but also because "this is not just the cause of my husband, but the cause of our country now. I will continue this work for the memory of my husband, if, God forbid, anything happens."

Sunday, July 03, 2005

A Letter to Free People Every Where From Akbar Ganji  

Nineteen days have passed since I began my hunger strike. I have lost nineteen kilograms. I am imprisoned. I do not have permission to make phone calls or read newspapers. I have been denied visitation. I cannot walk outside my cell. The liars say they have no political prisoners. They say the political prisoners are not on hunger strike. They distort the facts by calling a cell a suite, saying that prisons are as comfortable as they can be in a hotel! Calling a donkey a parrot does not miraculously turn the donkey into a parrot! Prisoner is someone whose liberty has been taken away. Does calling a prison a hotel change the nature of the prison? A political prisoner is someone who speaks his conscience. We are arrested solely because we differ from what is permitted. Human rights organizations are aware how hundreds of people have been imprisoned only because of different views. The liars change their words. First they say Ganji is in solitary confinement. Next he is on hunger strike. Then they say Ganji has to be punished. Next they quote doctors that Ganji has asthma. Have the doctors prohibited Ganji from visitations, reading newspaper, making or receiving phone calls, breathing fresh air, or seeing the sunlight? Is it why you have sent a smuggler who is sentenced to 15 years in prison to my cell in order to murder me? If punishment is to force me show remorse for my manifests, you will not achieve your objective. Iranian Stalinists have inherited these techniques from Stalin's interrogators. I have written the republicanism manifests after much research and study. I will not take back my word. I will not show remorse. I will not stop my hunger strike until I reach my goal.
Today my weary face reflects the true face of the Islamic republic of Iran's regime. Today I am the symbol of justice. Look closely and you see the regime's injustice. People wonder if I am the same person they once knew. Their torture has reduced my weight from 77kg to 58kg. They hide me from the world. They hide me from the journalists.

Khamanei will be directly responsible for my death. Mortazavi gets his orders from Khamanei via Hejazi (Khamenei's chief of staff). I am against Khamanei's unlimited lifetime rule because it is contradictory to the rule of people. I knew my statements would have ramifications and I was right. Even Rafsanjani, Karoubi, and Moin tasted a bit of Khamenei's democracy in this election. One-man rule contradicts democracy. In this system, one man orders and the rest have to obey. Mortazavi has told my wife that hundreds die everyday, Ganji could be one of them. These are Khamenei’s words that are spoken by Mortazavi. Ganji may die but seeking liberty, justices, democracy, hope, dream, and ideals will never die. Loving one another and making sacrifices will always stay alive.

Akbar Ganji

June 29th 2005

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Iran: Ganji - Arbitrary detention - Hunger strike  

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Iran.

New information:

The Observatory has been informed by the Iranian League for the Defense of Human Rights (Ligue pour la défense des droits de l’Homme en Iran - LDDHI) that Mr. Akbar Ganji, a prominent journalist and human rights defender who has been imprisoned for more than five years in Tehran’s Evin prison, started a new hunger strike.

According to the information received, on June 14, 2005, a week after Mr. Akbar Ganji was temporarily released on May 30, 2005, so that he may receive medical treatment, his house was searched on order of Mr. Mortazavi, Prosecutor of Tehran, in order to arrest him. On the following day, on June 15, 2005, Mr. Akbar Ganji presented himself to jail. On June 16, 2005, he started a hunger strike and he is currently held in solitary confinement.

Moreover, his lawyer, Mrs. Shirin Ebadi, 2003 Nobel Peace Prize and Secretary General of the Defenders of Human Rights Centre, was not authorised to visit him on June 21, 2005, and she expressed her worry regarding Mr. Ganji’s health and life.

Background information:

On May 19, 2005, Mr. Akbar Ganji, of the daily newspaper Sobh-e-Emrooz, began an “unlimited hunger strike” in order to protest against his imprisonment, which he called it off on May 24, 2005, after negotiations with three prison officials who promised to give way to his demands the following week. But the following day, an assistant of the Tehran prosecutor accused him of lying and warned “the Ganji family not to continue with these lies”. The journalist then told his family that he had decided to renew his fast “and this time to the end”.

Mr. Akbar Ganji suffers from asthma and serious back problems, for which doctors recommended that he be immediately hospitalised. However, in detention, Mr. Ganji did not have access to adequate treatment. Moreover, under the Iranian Criminal Procedure Code, after a prisoner has served two thirds of his or her sentence, he or she can be released on parole. Since one year, while Mr. Ganji completed the non parole period of his sentence, his lawyers have been requesting that he be released on parole, in vain.

On May 28, 2005, Evin prison officials proposed to Mr. Akbar Ganji that he should be examined by two doctors chosen by his family to confirm his poor state of health and, on that basis, they would grant him permission to leave the prison. Mr. Ganji would be hospitalised for a week. On May 30, 2005, the Iranian authorities decided to release on a temporary basis Mr. Ganji, so that he may receive medical treatment.

Mr. Akbar Ganji was arrested on April 22, 2000 for having written several articles suggesting the involvement of the Iranian regime, including former President Hashemi Rafsanjani and former Intelligence Minister Ali Fallahian, in the assassination of dissident opponents and intellectuals in late 1998. Mr. Ganji was also arrested because he took part in a conference in Berlin on the Iranian legislative elections and democratic reforms in April 1998. In January 2001 he was sentenced to 10 years in prison but the appeal court reduced the sentence to six months in May 2001. However, in July 2001, the Supreme Court quashed the May sentence on technical grounds and imposed a six-year jail sentence on the charge of “threatening national security and propaganda against the institutions of the Islamic State” (See Observatory Annual Report 2004).

Mr. Akbar Ganji has been held in solitary confinement in spite of the specific recommendation made on June 27, 2003, by the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention to the Islamic Republic of Iran to put an end to this widespread practice which it considered as arbitrary in nature (See the UN document E/CN4/2004/3/Add.2, paragraphs 4 and 5).

Action requested:

Please write to the Iranian authorities, urging them to:

i. allow Mr. Ganji to benefit from the adequate medical treatment requested by his state of health, outside the Evin prison;

ii. guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Akbar Ganji;

iii. release Mr. Akbar Ganji immediately;

iv. put an immediate end to all acts of harassment against Iranian human rights defenders;

v. conform with the provisions of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 9, 1998, in particular its article 1 which provides that “every person has the right, individually or collectively, to promote the protection and fulfilment of human rights and fundamental liberties at the national and international levels”, as well as its article 12.2, which provides that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually or in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration”;

vi. conform more generally with the provisions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and with the other international instruments ratified by the Islamic Republic of Iran

- Leader of the Islamic Republic, His Excellency Ayatollah Sayed Ali Khamenei, the Presidency, Palestine Avenue, Azerbaijan Intersection, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran, Faxes: + 98 21 649 5880 / 21 774 2228 (ask fax to be forwarded to Ayatollah Khamenei), Email: webmaster@wilayah.org (on the subject line write: For the attention of the office of His Excellency, Ayatollah al Udhma Khamenei, Qom)

- President, His Excellency Hojjatoleslam val Moslemin Sayed Mohammad Khatami, the Presidency, Palestine Avenue, Azerbaijan Intersection, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran, Fax: + 98 21 649 588, E-mail: khatami@president.ir

- Head of the Judiciary, His Excellency Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahrudi, Ministry of Justice, Park-e Shahr, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran, Fax: +98 21 879 6671, Email: Irjpr@iranjudiciary.com

- Minister of Foreign Affairs, His Excellency Kamal Kharrazi, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Sheikh Abdolmajid Keshk-e Mesri Av, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran, Faxes: + 98 21 390 1999 (number may be unreliable; please mark “care of the Human Rights Department, Foreign Ministry”), Email: matbuat@mfa.gov

- Ambassador Mohammad Reza Alborzi, Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Chemin du Petit-Saconnex 28, 1209 Geneva, Switzerland, Fax: +41 22 7330203, E-mail: mission.iran@ties.itu.int

Geneva - Paris, June 24, 2005

Kindly inform the Observatory of any action undertaken quoting the code number of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory, a FIDH and OMCT venture, is dedicated to the protection of Human Rights Defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time of need.

The Observatory was the winner of the 1998 Human Rights Prize of the French Republic.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
Tel and fax: FIDH : +33 (0) 1 43 55 20 11 / 33 1 43 55 18 80
Tel and fax: OMCT : + 41 22 809 49 39 / 41 22 809 49 29
E-mail : observatoire@iprolink.ch
gooya news

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Akbar Ganji is the longest-serving political prisoner in Iran’s journalistic community, jailed for expressing his opinion in defense of freedom and the professional rights of journalists. He was convicted by high-ranking judiciary officials in the Islamic Republic for criticizing government officials, and has so far spent more than sixty-one months in prison. Since his imprisonment, Ganji has published “The Republican Manifesto,” a work that outlines plans for achieving an open and democratic society, and has invited the people to engage in civil disobedience. These actions have brought him further wrath from the officials of the judiciary, who are abusing their legal powers to silence his voice, so much so that even his attorney, Dr. Nasser Zarafshan, has been sent to prison.

At 7 PM on Thursday, May 19th 2005, Ganji went on an indefinite hunger strike to protest his unfair and illegal treatment, including the refusal to grant him medical leave. This is while he is severely ill and is in dire need of special medical attention. We Iranian journalists and bloggers are extremely concerned about Ganji’s health, and we call on human rights organizations to take immediate measures to pressure Iran’s judiciary to release and treat him. In the present circumstances, international human rights organizations and freedom-loving people all over the word are responsible for the protection of Akbar Ganji’s life.

In French: Akbar Ganji! Sa vie est réellement en danger! Les droits de l' homme en danger!

In German(Deutsch): Menschenrechte in Gefahr! Freiheit für Akbar Ganji! Rettet das Leben von Akbar Ganji!

In Spanish: Derechos humanos esta en peligro! Libertad para Akbar Ganji! Salve la vida de Akbar Ganji!

In Finish: Ihmisoikeus on vaarassa Vapaus Akbar Ganji:lle Pelastakaa Akbar Ganjin henki!

In Norwegian: Menneskerettigheter er i fare!Frihet for Akbar Ganji!Redd livet til Akbar Ganji !

In Sweden: mänskliga rättigheter är i fara.frihet åt Akbar Gandji.Agera för frikännande av Akbar Gandji!

In Italian: italian:I diritti dell vomo sono stati nuovamente toccati. La vita di Akbar ganji eim pericolo

In Slovak: slovak:Lъdske prбva sъ opд» povu№ovanй!ѕivot Akbara ganjiho je v nebezpecnetrй.
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