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Why this man would be willing to die?
July 31, 2005 2:15 AM   Subscribe

‘No one should be imprisoned – not even for a second – for expressing an opinion’ Akbar Ganji announced his hunger strike on May 20 with these words.

Ganji, an Iranian journalist and writer, was arrested on April 22, 2000 following his participation in an academic and cultural conference held at the Heinrich Böll Institute in Berlin on April 7-9 entitled "Iran after the elections," at which political and social reform in Iran were publicly debated. He was sentenced on January 13, 2001 to 10 years imprisonment plus five years internal exile. He is now on 50th day of hunger-strike, weighs 52kg, is unconscious much of the day, and may die soon. [more inside]
posted by lenny70 (12 comments total)

 
Akbar Ganji is considered Iran's leading investigative journalist. He is also the author of the best-selling book Dungeon of Ghosts, a collection of Ganji's newspaper articles published in early 2000, in which he implicated the former president, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, and other leading conservative figures in the "serial murders" of five writers and intellectuals in 1998 .



For those wondering why this man would be willing to die, read the letter he wrote to the ‘Free People of the World’ 30 days after he started his hunger-strike.


BTW, what does the special judge for the press-court (Saeed Mortazavi) which incidentally might have something to do with murder of this journalist, thinks about the case? –‘Who cares if Ganji dies? Each day many prisoners die in our jails.’


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Note 1- I have to say that I can’t do justice to this topic, simply because I don’t follow Iran’s news very closely. I have been waiting for someone to post this here, but it didn’t happen (..or did I miss it?? Oh man… I’ll be hanged here!) Anyway, hopefully the more informed MeFis will fill the gaps to the story.

Note 2- This is my first FPP here. If it is a repost and/or a crappy post, please don’t lynch the nooooB! /* sits in the corner and waits for hell to breaks loose */
posted by lenny70 at 2:20 AM on July 31, 2005


I've a problem with this. This man seems to be of great courage and focus. He has clear opinions about democracy and how it should be run, in particular he doesn't think there should be a supreme ruler set above it. That's his opinion, it's my opinion and probably the consensus here.

The problem is that it doesn't seem to be the opinion of the majority of Iranians. They demonstrated this with the Revolution and they reinforce their view in their (reasonably respectable) elections. They may be misled, they may be wrong, but hey - that's democracy.

Where's my mistake?
posted by grahamwell at 3:09 AM on July 31, 2005


lenny70 good post.

I don't agree with Ganji's hunger strike. Dissidents dissent, they don't engage in pointless demonstrations.

Solzhenitsyn did a "tenner" in a Soviet gulag and came out to write One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovitch, Cancer Ward, Gulag Archipelago, and numerous other works that exposed the Soviet Union to the world. Had he starved himself in prison, none of these works would have been written and none of the stories of the "zeks" would ever have been told and the world would have probably never heard of him.

Ganji's hunger strike will generate a little press (a very little press) and then will be forgotten. If he stays alive to fight another day, he might still have a chance to effect change in his country and make a name for himself.
posted by three blind mice at 3:26 AM on July 31, 2005


" Is it better to shout out and hasten our death or to keep our silence and lengthen our slow and gradual dying"

This is the nicest quote I've seen in support of this kind of protest. Ganji's stated perspective is that if he doesn't do this, and continues to refuse to recant his statements, he will simply be put back in prison once his 10-year sentence is over. Based on that belief, I'd like to believe that I would go out with a bang rather than a whimper.
posted by purtek at 4:32 AM on July 31, 2005


"Is it better to shout out and hasten our death or to keep our silence and lengthen our slow and gradual dying"

Sounds awfully like, "It is better to die on your feet than live on your knees."
posted by uncanny hengeman at 6:35 AM on July 31, 2005


Grahamwell: hey - that's democracy.

Actually, no, that's not democracy what you see in Iran.
The last elections were rigged: only candidates that were pre-approved by a bunch of fascist mullah assholes made it onto the ballots. That's why Iranians are still stuck with religious "leaders" that think it is totally OK to execute 11-year-olds or to imprison those who dare go to a frigging conference and write about the injustices in their country. Or to issue a fatwa and order the execution of those who point out the historic fact that their fucked-up religion's founder was, by today's standards, a pedophile (nine-year-olds, dude).
posted by sour cream at 8:22 AM on July 31, 2005


The problem is that it doesn't seem to be the opinion of the majority of Iranians. They demonstrated this with the Revolution and they reinforce their view in their (reasonably respectable) elections. They may be misled, they may be wrong, but hey - that's democracy.

Where's my mistake?


The mistake is democracy. It allows a group of wrong, misled people to use force against others, with a false air of legitimacy. "Hey, look, we toook a vote. You lost. "

As the saying goes, democracy is four wolves and a sheep voting on what's for dinner.
posted by Ayn Marx at 8:32 AM on July 31, 2005


Sure, when you have pure rule-by-majority, things can and will get ugly. So you add a constitution with protections of basic rights, which protects the minority when the majority gets a little crazy, coupled with an independent judiciary to enforce these rights. And then you hope that you made changing/amending the constitution difficult enough and that enough of the people believe in these rights, even when they are temporarily inconvenient.

Wikipedia: Democracy and Liberal democracy.
posted by ltl at 9:33 AM on July 31, 2005


act locally, think globally
posted by nervousfritz at 9:52 AM on July 31, 2005


That's why Iranians are still stuck with religious "leaders"

Nobody's "stuck" with anything. Governments get their powers from the consent, whether it be passive or active, of the people. ...whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government.

That's not just a rule for our country, it goes for everyone.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 11:32 AM on July 31, 2005


C_D: Governments get their powers from the consent [...] of the people.

Right. I guess it's the North Koreans own fault that they're starving, because, hey, if they don't like it, they could just change their government. After all, hat's their right.
posted by sour cream at 12:17 PM on July 31, 2005


I believe you are confusing natural rights with institutional ones. But yes, it is. See also: Social Contract.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 3:04 PM on July 31, 2005


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