Tuesday, July 18, 2006

12 Cities Respond to Ganji's Call for three-day Hunger Strike

Shirin Karimi, Rooz Online:
In response to Akbar Ganji's call for a three-day hunger strike for the release of political prisoners in Iran, Iranians in Iran and 12 other cities supported his appeal. Along with a large number of Iranians in London, the dissident writer and investigative journalist himself held a hunger strike in front of the BBC. READ MORE

Ganji told reporters that his ultimate goal for the three-day hunger strike was to draw global attention to human rights violations in Iran and the release of political prisoners in detention who have not been formally charged.

"This hunger strike is held to call for the release of three individuals from three different movements in Iran. Mansour Osanlou, leader of the labor movement, Ramin Jahanbegloo, a prominent intellectual leader, and Ali Akbar Mousavi Khoeini, a student movement leader all of whom have been detained without legal access to counsel", dissident Ganji said.

He also said that his initiative had been supported by 1200 individuals inside and outside Iran, different groups including Iran's National Front, Iran Mellat Party, Tahkim Vahdat, Allameh Tabatabaie, leading students' associations, women's movements and different groups, who joined the hunger strike. Ganji stressed that Iranians in 12 cities including Cologne, Paris, Stockholm, New York, Berlin, Washington, and Paris have supported his three-day fast.A number of students in Tehran too had gone on hunger strike,” Ganji told reporters.

In Iran, Abbas Amir Entezam, the most prominent Iranian political prisoner and Mohammad Maleki, the political activist, delivered speeches at the protests that were held by two Iranian leading student movements. Student activist Abdollah Momeni said that the call to crackdown on civil protest had increased dramatically and that the harassment symbolized the government’s determination to petrify Iranian civil activists. Momeni pointed out that the government associated peaceful civil movements and protests over violations of human rights in Iran as ‘cooperation with the enemy’ and thus assaulted the demonstrators.

In Hamedan political and student activists also supported Ganji's call. Mojtaba Bayat, a member of the student organization Daftare Tahkim Vahdat, said that Ganji is a good rallying point for all human rights activists. Pointing to the failure of the government’s nuclear policy, Bayat said that with that failure the government had become more violent in its suppression of activists in the country. He said that Ganji’s call for a hunger strike could turn out to be a turning point for the pro-freedom movement of Iranian activists.

Iranians outside Iran responded positively to Ganji’s call and held peaceful protests. In Berlin a large group gathering and called for the release of political prisoners in Iran. Parliamentary foreign policy spokeswoman of Germany's Green Party and a number of German MPs too expressed their support for the hunger strike. Amnesty International Middle East division also sent support letters to the media.

Iranians in Paris too gathered in Pouya cultural centre, which was filled with photos of Zahra Kazemi, Ramin Jahanbegloo, Nasser Zarafshan, Mohammad Mokhtari, Dariush and Parvaneh Forouhar, Mansour Osanlou, Mousavi Khoini, etc, all political activists behind bars or dissidents, some murdered by the regime. The attendees delivered speeches and later gathered in Bastille Square. The Secretary General of the French Socialist Party and the Greens to sent messages of support for this strike.