Tuesday, September 13, 2005

# Posted 3:57 PM by Patrick Belton  

AND IN THE GREAT COUNTRY, AWFUL GOVERNMENT CATEGORY: Sic semper, tyranni. Persecuted Iranian journalist Akbar Ganji has been perversely and cynically returned to prison by the Iranian government after he broke a four-month hunger strike in hospital after being told he would be given his freedom. The journalist, whose reportage in 1998 connected former President Akbar Rafsanjani and other leading conservatives with the murders of five writers and intellectuals and was thought a decisive factor in the conservatives' defeat in the February 2000 parliamentary elections, is presently being held in solitary confinement; he has been in prison since April 2000, except for a brief 12-day period of leave in advance of the 17 June 2005 presidential elections. Ganji has written two letters to the free people of the world, on 10 July and 29 July. He is being represented at the moment by Shirin Ebadi. See Human Rights Watch, PEN, and Reporters sans frontières for further background on his case.

I call the attention of readers to sample letters of protest to the Iranian government drafted by RSF and PEN. The first is suitable for nations without diplomatic relations with the Iranian government; the second for nations such as Britain, Canada, Ireland and Australia which accredit Iranian ambassadors.
His Excellency Ayatollah Sayed 'Ali Khamenei
Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran
c/o The Presidency
Palestine Avenue
Azerbaijan Intersection
Islamic Republic of Iran

Your Excellency,

I am writing to express my grave and urgent concern about the continued imprisonment of Akbar Ganji. As you know, Mr. Ganji was among 19 writers and intellectuals arrested for participating in an academic and cultural conference held in Berlin in April 2000. I fear Mr. Ganji is being detained solely for the peaceful exercise of his right to freedom of expression as guaranteed by Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which your country has ratified. Please reconsider Mr. Ganji's case and in a spirit of humanity order his immediate and unconditional release.


[Your name and signature]

Iranian Interests Section
c/o Embassy of Pakistan to the United States
2209 Wisconsin Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20007


Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran
16 Prince's Gate,

or245 Metcalfe St.
Ottawa, Ontario
K2P 2K2

or72 Mount Merrion Avenue
Co. Dublin

25 Cologoa Street
O'Malley, A.C.T. 2606

Dear Ambassador,

May I draw your attention to the case of the journalist Akbar Ganji, who was arrested on 22 April 2000? To the best of my knowledge, he was simply exercising his right to freedom of expression, guaranteed by Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. I therefore call on you to take steps to ensure his release.

Yours sincerely,

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