Arthur Miller and Edward Said
appeal for Sarkuhi's freedom

June 16, 1997

President Elect Khatemi,

In his recent open letter to freedom loving people of the world, the Iranian writer and editor Faraj Sarkuhi stated: "I have not participated in covert political activities; my work is cultural and overt. I am the editor of Adineh, and I write literary articles . . . I am sure of my own innocence." His letter describes in graphic detail the torments to which he was subjected during interrogations at the hands of officials of Iran's Ministry of Information.

His plea, couriered to PEN, the international association of writers, has now been published in journals on both sides of the Atlantic and has alerted the public to Sarkuhi's ordeal. It is our belief that Sarkuhi is a man held in contravention of his human rights. We do not believe him guilty of any crime; rather, his public demand for freedom of expression in Iran, as a signatory to the 1994 Declaration of 134 Iranian Writers, has drawn him unwittingly into a larger conflict between your country and Germany, a conflict in which he has no part. The possibility that he may be tried on what we regard as spurious charges fills us with dismay. If further harm should come to him, the cause of justice itself will be harmed.

In the past, you have spoken in favor of creating a free forum of ideas. Sarkuhi's only crime is his attempt to pursue this same vision. We turn to you, therefore, as our recourse at this time. You have been elected to the presidency by an overwhelming majority of Iranian citizens eager for change, and as such you may be able to repair some of the wrong that has been done to Sarkuhi. We appeal to you to bring your influence to bear on his case.

His release from prison, and the dropping of all charges against him, would be received by the world as a long awaited signal of hope and humanity from Tehran.

Signed,

Arthur Miller -- Edward Said


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