Sunday, August 21, 2005

Kofi Annan’s Letter And Good News About Ganji

Rooz Online:
Following the news that UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has personally written and sent a letter to Iranian leaders expressing his request that imprisoned journalist Akbar Ganji who has been on a hunger strike and in hospital because of his condition, the deputy of Tehran Province’s Prosecutor announced that arrangements have been made for the Ganji issue, that the prisoner has ended his hunger strike and that his file will be closed soon.

Reuters announced last week that Anan had personally intervened by sending a letter to president Ahmadinejad, requesting Ganji’s release. Iranian officials, true to form remained silent on this. Iranian observers have said that while Iranian officials have repeatedly in the past shunned any such foreign request as interference in its domestic affairs, the same could not be aired against the UN, whom Iran needs and which has maintained good relations with some of its leaders. Under the current circumstances when Iran’s nuclear issue has created new concerns in the international community and especially among most of the permanent members of the UN Security Council, with possible hardening of positions towards it, Iran would be careful in alienating more neutral grounds, such as the UN Secretary General. READ MORE

Following the news, Mahmud Salar Kia, a deputy prison administrator has said that Ganji has ended his strike after some 60 plus days of hunger strike and is now cooperative with doctors. While independent sources have not been able to contact anyone to confirm this news, Ganji’s wife was quoted by a Danish radio Persian program where she was ignorant of any developments as she has not been permitted to speak with her husband.

The Public Relations office of Milad hospital where Ganji has been hospitalized also announced that Ganji has ended his strike and after cooperating with the doctors is now not in critical condition. At the same time, prison and Tehran Prosecutor’s Office officials continue to say that Ganji continues not to be allowed to be visited because of the request of the medical team at Milad hospital. This in fact is putting a medical reason to his visitation rights. Officials have said that doctors believed that such visitations would only encourage him to continue his strike, thus worsening his medical condition.

Observers who have been watching these events very closely and spoken to Ganji’s family believe that the real reason why Ganji’s family, including his wife, mother, etc have been denied visitation rights, is because of the accusatory interviews and statements that they have been making against prison and judiciary officials.

In a related news that has made human rights and political activists happy is the news that the prison medical leave of another long-time prisoner, Amir Entezam, a former ambassador and government spokesman during Mehdi Bazargan’s premiership during the first year of the Islamic Revolution of 1979, has been extended. Entezam has already been outside the prison in a hospital for the past three months. The extension is only for one month for now, but this could be repeated and may be a sing of leniency and consideration. He is reported to be suffering from different ailments that include knee pain, diabetes, and asthma. Entezam, who has been in prison for the past 26 years, has repeatedly requested that he be rehabilitated for his incarceration, without any success.