Thursday, October 13, 2005

Ganji's Fate and his Isolation

Rooz Online: a "reformist" website
Contradictory remarks by Iranian judicial officials and prison authorities have once again raised serious concerns about imprisoned journalist Akbar Ganji.

Ganji was returned to Evin prison more than 45 days ago. Prior to that, he had been hospitalized in a Tehran hospital and fought a battle with death over his controversial hunger strike. This clearly endangered his live and deteriorated his health. His wife, desperate to receive any news from him has been banned to visit him again and wonders why they have had to hide him if they have not done anything to him.

The Minister of Justice and the spokesman for Iran's Judiciary has come short of comments by saying that the crisis of Ganji's family to visit him shall somehow be resolved. He has even had the audacity to say that some visits actually create problems for Ganji himself. "We have tried to put Mr. Ganji off the spotlight, but there are those who are trying to put him back in the spot light and add some spice to recent developments,” the Minister is quoted as saying. READ MORE

Ganji's family is concerned about his whereabouts and has not met with him since he has been transferred to notorious Evin prison. His wife's numerous pleas with the head of Iran's Judiciary have remained unanswered.

Many human rights activists again have expressed serious concerns over Ganji's return to solidarity confinement. They also have serious concerns over judiciary's long silence and secretive isolation of Ganji. Despite this, the deputy Tehran's prosecutor claims that he is kept in an isolated but healthy part of Evin prison, a term that normally refers to solidarity confinement.

Ambei Ligabo, the U.N. special envoy on human rights, freedom of expression and thought has asked the Islamic Republic to grant Ganji "unconditional acquittal" as a humanitarian gesture and release him immediately. His demand was also ignored.

More than 150 Iranian political and cultural personalities too have pleaded with the head of the Judiciary to help in what they refer to as "new pressures on Ganji". The general director of Tehran prisons is quoted as saying that Ganji is under physical therapy treatment and is thus banned from any visitations. Five years ago, Akbar Ganji, writer and investigative journalist was sentenced to 6 years in prison for attending a conference in Berlin. He is spending the last months of his conviction. He has been asked to write a letter to Iran's supreme leader and ask for his pardon. If he does this, officials claim, he can be released. But this is something Ganji has rejected because acquittal assumes a crime which he has not committed.