Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Akbar Ganji in Moscow: Must Enlighten Politics

Rooz Online:
Akbar Ganji, the prominent Iranian dissident and investigative journalist who exposed the excesses and killings of senior officials in Iran and was imprisoned for it for six years, has been free for some 10 weeks now. On Monday he was in Moscow to receive the prestigious Golden Pen of Freedom award presented by the World Association of Newspapers (WAN) and the World Editor Forum.

On receiving the award Ganji dedicated it to the casualties of those who were murdered in the series of murders by officials of Iran’s intelligence agency in the late 1990s that have come to be known as the ‘serial killings’ in Iran.

I do not consider my self deserving of this award,” Ganji said adding “it belongs to freedom seekers and Iranian dissidents.” “This award belongs to all those prisoners who were murdered and lamed in 1988”, Ganji said referencing the thousands that are reported to have been killed in prison on after Iran signed the UN resolution ending the 8-year war with Iraq. Ganji listed everybody who has been deprived of his rights in Iran to deserve this prize and included those who were forced to immigrate and leave the country because of their views and ideas and who cannot return to their homeland. He said he accepted the esteemed award on behalf of all of those who had suffered, including intellectuals, prisoners, immigrants, lamed, killed, tortured, deprived of their civil rights, etc. READ MORE

In receiving the award, Ganji presented his views on the world where injustice, violence, genocide, internal wars, ethnic cleansing, and the violation of human rights were common across the globe. He also spoke of the hopeful signs such as world citizens, spread of communications, man free from national bounds, racial bounds, religious bounds, etc. “Today masses of people no longer view themselves bound to just their own country or government, but see themselves as world citizens with feelings of solidarity for all mankind regardless of background and affiliations,” he said. Quoting Emmanuel Kant, the German philosopher of the 18th Century, directly and indirectly, Ganji spoke against totalitarianism and those who imposed their views on others and the duty of every citizen to fight this. He spoke of the inalienable human rights of people. He called solidarity among men as the way to stop the violations and trespasses that take place around the world and quoted Jesus Christ’s words of love thy neighbor. He spoke against violence even of the type that was advanced and justified by Sartre, Fanon, and Marcuse. “Violence breeds violence,” he said. “Civil obedience must replace violence even in fighting violence.” He said “Forget and Forgive” was his motto in fighting injustice and violence.

At the world forum, before Russian president Putin took the podium after Ganji, a couple attendees spoke against the conditions of the Russian press, who were taken out of the hall. The president of WAN read out his report about human rights who criticized human rights conditions in Russian in the presence of Putin.

This meeting held in the Kremlin was attended by foreign ambassadors to Moscow. One ambassador from an Islamic country approached Ganji after the meeting and asked, “Where is the ambassador of Iran?” When asked what was in Ganji’s mind as he gave his talk, he said I was thinking that this is the place where the central committee of the former Soviet communist party once held its meetings, and where soviet prime minister Khrushchev bombasted Stalin and his excesses. I was thinking how much the world has changed over the past years so that a country that did not tolerate any dissidents is now host to a meeting where dissidents are given awards and defended.” Ganji ended his conversations by warning dictators around the world to take heed.