Monday, August 01, 2005

Only One Solution

Iranian blogger, Mansur Ahadi, Roozonline:
It appears that because of imprisoned journalist Akbar Ganji’s plight, the focus of public attention has gradually shifted to the apex of the political decision-making pyramid in Iran. Since the publicly announced efforts of the President, the leadership of the Expediency Council and even the Judiciary officials to end Ganji’s plight have not produced any real results, it is clear that the solution of this problem requires the intervention of a higher position. This observation becomes clearer when one keeps in mind that his principal charge and sentence in both court trials lies in his “insults of the Leader. READ MORE

In the first indictment against Ganji, the prosecutor is charged with participating in the Berlin Conference, which has been officially recognized to be anti Islamic Republic of Iran event. Ganji is accused of attacking the Leader’s announcement on the importance of cultural imperialism and attributing the government killings of political dissidents directly as a by-product of this view. Ganji on the other hand has repeatedly stated that he has never insulted the Leader and that the prosecutor could not or did not wish to differentiate between opinions and insults. Some individuals may have opinions different from the Leader, while others may even criticize his view, which are the rights of every citizen and in non way do they constitute insults,” he is reported to have said in his written statements.

In other parts of his written defense, Ganji has said that he does not consider the banned newspapers to be the bastions of the enemy, especially since not a single “enemy” was found seven months into the closure of any of these news media. I consider the current media laws to be unconstitutional and contrary to the civil laws of a society,” he has said. I do not believe in the view that some enemy is behind every problem that we have in this country or that these events are the products of conspiracies,” he adds. Ganji has made it clear that he believes the liberal and reform newspapers were the bastions of freedom, defending human rights.To call newspapers spokesman for the enemy, when their managers had spent their life defending and promoting the revolution and the Islamic Republic, is a cruelty against them, which even God will not forgive,” he has elaborated. Ganji has even questioned Khamenei’s calling Mesbah Yazdi an equal to ayatollah Motaheri, (a relatively tolerant cleric who was assassinated in the early years of the revolution), the latter being a recognized thinker and anti-violence proponent. Mesbah Yazdi, according to Ganji, represents violence, terrorism and slavery, according to his own writings.

In still other parts of his defense, Ganji has said that like every citizen, he has the right to criticize the views of the Leader and expect a response from him, even though he states that he has not exercised this right. He has also questioned the whole theory of cultural imperialism, saying it is a fault and dangerous thesis based on conspiracy theories and only useful as a tool to oppress individuals and nations. At the same time Ganji has said that he respects the directives of the Leader stemming from his constitutional rights and considers it his duty to follow them. But the judiciary branch in Iran, according to him, is active against freedom, supporting the detention of dissidents, closure of newspapers, etc. The members of the Expediency Council do not represent Iranians, he has contended. The national TV network too does not represent the nation and is a tool in the hands of a small minority.

While Ganji’s defense covers a very wide range of issues and is critical of many of the ideas of the Leader of the country, i.e. ayatollah Khamenei, the press has refrained from publishing all of his views out of fear of being reprimanded. In fact, the major part of his detention is related to his defense, which has been interpreted to be “insults to the Leader”. His initial sentence was for 18 months of imprisonment, while the retrial changed that to 10 years, with 5 years in exile. So even Ganji’s defense deserved punishment, from the perspective of the justice system in Iran. It was only when his trial was being reviewed that these charges were requested to be dropped to a mere 6 months. The higher court, however, did not accept this. Furthermore, the judge who had requested the reduction was removed from his position! So in the final sentence against Ganji, the major part of his “crime” is his “insults” to the Leader.

Interestingly, Khamenei on several occasions has said that he forgoes any charges again Ganji. People expect the Leader to put these views into action and take sides on this issue. Unfortunately, Ganji is not even being given his due because of his medical condition. Some of the judiciary officials have expressly stated that had Ganji not criticized the Leader when he was on prison leave, his leave would have been extended, as has been the case with other political prisoners.

Iranian laws do not impose any restriction on the Leader in requesting a review of legal cases and sentences. So his fate is in fact in Khamenei’s hands. Should such a step be taken and Ganji’s life spared, the widest benefit will go to the Leader himself.