Sunday, July 31, 2005

Thousands Hold Candle Vigil for Ganji

Potkin Azarmehr, Iran va Jahan:
More than a thousand Iranians gathered outside Akbar Ganji's house in Tehran to mark 50 days of his hunger strike. The Iranian dissident is continuing his hunger strike and is demanding his freedom and the end of the dictatorial rule of the "supreme leader".

The participants lit candles, recited poetry, prayed and sang patriotic anthems. READ MORE

Iran's prominent dissidents and poets took part in the event. Present in the vigil were Abbas Amir-Entezam, Mohammad Maleki, Simin Behbahani, Ali-Ashraf Darvishian, Fatimeh Haghighatjoo and many other well-known Iranian public figures.

The event started by announcing the news of the latest arrests, Abdolfatah Soltani, one of the lawyers representing the family of murdered photo-journalist Zahra Kazemi, and several student activists who were arrested shortly before the vigil began.

Simin Behbahani, the most admired poetess in Iran, read some of her latest poems in appreciation of Ganji's resistance. Her poems were followed by several speeches by some of the student activists and then the crowd sang a classical Iranian song depicting the end of dark nights and the coming of a new dawn.

Also amongst the speakers were Saeed Hajjarian, one of the architects of Khatami's era, and a past high ranking member of the Islamic Republic's intelligence services. Hajjarian started crying during his speech saying it was him who should be in Ganji's place. "I tried to come to a compromise with the establishment and the judiciary but they broke all their promises and now there is nothing more I can do but to pray".

The last speaker was Ganji's wife, Ma'soomeh. She described how Ganji has lost 27 Kilos in weight, and talked about his deteriorating health. However, she said in praise of her husband "He is one of those men who show more courage and toughness, the harder the situation gets. Despite his deteriorating health, I can tell you that his spirits are higher than ever".

At the end of her speech the crowd sang the banned Iranian national anthem, Ey Iran, and the student solidarity anthem.

Plain clothes vigilantes as well as Law Enforcement Forces watched the entire ceremony but did not disrupt the vigil.
Photos of the event can be seen here.