Monday, January 02, 2006

The noble struggle of Akbar Ganji

Mariam Memarsadeghi, Globe and Mail - Mahatma Gandhi once said, "Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will." Iran's leading dissident, Akbar Ganji, though ailing in prison from torture, solitary confinement and the effects of a two-month hunger strike, has shown himself to be a man in the Gandhian mould.

Even as his body withers, Mr. Ganji, equal parts investigative journalist, political theorist and non-violent activist, continues to defy Iran's theocratic dictatorship. He has gone so far as to demand the resignation of Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who, according to the Islamic constitution, rules above the law and without accountability.

Mr. Ahmadinejad's biggest threat is not Israel or the United States, but freedom-loving Iranians. Despots' subjects are the stuff of their darkest nightmares, as it is they who are most familiar with their lies. The international community should recognize this, and the international media should be careful not to conflate a dangerously repressive regime's rhetoric with the thinking of its people. As evidenced under communism in the Soviet Union and the Eastern bloc, dictatorships retain power through the big lie meant to obfuscate truth. It is thus important that the international community recognize that the people of Iran can see through it all, more so even than those outside their country.

Mr. Ahmadinejad's revolutionary trash talk does not impress Iranians, especially Iran's restive youth. It strikes many as ignorant and absurd, especially when placed against Mr. Ganji's robust manifestos for an open society. In condemning Mr. Ahmadinejad and in fighting against the prospect of a nuclear bomb in the hands of Iran's corrupt mullahs, the international community should provide unwavering support to its natural allies, those with the biggest stake in guaranteeing freedom and peace: the people of Iran. In that spirit, we should revive the focus on Mr. Ganji's noble struggle for democracy, now being waged from inside his solitary cell in Evin prison.

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Also: AFP - Health of Jailed Iranian Dissident Deteriorating :

TEHRAN -- The wife of jailed Iranian journalist Akbar Ganji said that her husband's health has deteriorated after four months in solitary confinement. A number of Ganji's ailments have "worsened" and are being "compounded by a digestive disorder, while no treatment is being given to him," Massoumeh Shafiie told AFP by telephone.

"There has not been any positive change in his situation... he still weighs 50 kilograms (110 pounds)," she said. Shafiie said she visited Ganji along with his daughters, mother, brother and lawyer, and that the visit lasted for about one hour. "It was his 122nd day in the solitary cell and his second visit with our daughters during the past 130 days."

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