And Ganji decides
Whatever happens next
I have no
doubt: Ganji never dies
August 1, 2005
Akbar Ganji, the Iranian imprisoned dissident on his 51st day of
hunger strike, is perishing his life in Milad Hospital, Tehran.
At the time of this writing, the latest news according to his wife
Massoumeh Shafiei is that during a 5 minute meeting Akbar, on the
verge of life and death according to his Doctors, fainted and she
agreed that he should be syringe-fed to avoid his loss of life.
Ganji has been in the news and in front of the conscious of many
Iranians as well as leading international politicians and personalities,
world public opinion and human rights advocates for many days to
remember now. Scanning Iranian media pages, however, demonstrates
the Islamic regime's absolute determination of pretence of
no big deal. The latest statement from the head of Iran's
judiciary is based on the argument that Ganji has not been helping
his own predicament during his temporary release and with his outspoken
statements openly questioning the absolute rule of the clerical
leader, Ayattolah Khamenei.
I have read many opinions about Ganji's hunger strike, signed
petitions supporting his demands but begging him to stay alive,
written letters to my Member of Parliament and received a reply
demonstrating his concern as well as the representations by the
British foreign minister on behalf of the European Union Presidency
to the Iranian leaders to safeguard his life. I am, however, alarmed
by the lack of any efforts by some of us at understanding where
Ganji is coming from and accepting him for
what he has decided to do.
In an opinion by the weblogger Hossein
Derakhshan entitled "Why
Bush prefers a dead Ganji" he
writes: "Only a dead Ganji would give Mr. Bush a unifying
symbol (a martyr) for the future phases of their desperate efforts
to change the regime of Iran from outside. That's why they
are all loving him so much. Because a dead Ganji will not be able
to have nuanced opinions and could easily be hijacked by the neoconservatives
for their own agenda. The authoritarian regime of Iran is smart
enough to keep Ganji alive and to use him for their own future
plans. ... Ganji, in my mind, has started a game in which the
only winner will again be Khamanei and the biggest loser would
be himself ˜ and of course Mr. Bush."
Derakhshan is not the only person who is judgemental on Ganji's
decision and steadfastness in his political beliefs, and somehow
miraculously links it with "Mr Bush" or Neo-conservatives' design
for regime change in Iran.
This serious misconception is based on a number of falsehoods:
1. The Iranian regime is entitled somehow and by some undeniable
rights or conventions to imprison those who criticise its leader
and call for him to go. I am sitting peacefully in my London office
and I can state categorically that "the Queen must go"!
At most I would be branded as a minority republican sympathiser
who is not in line with the mainstream British political opinion.
The Ayatollah said the same thing about the Shah so many times
- from 15 Khordad 1342 (1963) to Jan 1979 - and his maximum punishment
was exile to Turkey, Najaf and then Paris.
2. A regime change can and will only happen in Iran from outside.
Therefore, it is not Ganji that is calling the shots but Mr Bush.
This is a misconception based either on the premise that all transitions
to 'democracy' are somehow instigated by outside (the
West) and the people in Russia, Poland, ... , Eukraine etc have
just been pawns in this grand scheme; or that as in the case of
Afghanistan and Iraq, Iran's transition to democracy will
only happen as a result of direct forceful interference by a US-led
coalition. This view emanates from a sense of dispowerment, frustration
and helplessness that ordinary people, like Ganji, me and you cannot
change things and ascribes any political change to "the powers
3. Ganji's actions and decisions
become void of its personal human dimension. Ganji is a 'political
animal' and yes
he has been calculating every response to the many letters from
friends and threats from foes such as notorious Sa'id Mortazavi,
Tehran's chief prosecutor-inquisitor, who has constantly
been 'negotiating' his freedom terms with him. But after
all he is also a human being and can decide for himself whether
he is to 'eat his words' and stay his stay in the dungeons
of his captives or to take any other course of action he feels
appropriate based on his new found personal and ideological viewpoint.
Of-course like many other Iranians I fear for Akbar's health
and well-being. I want him alive and well, and the prospect of
his death -- as with any other needless human loss of life --
lingers heavily on my shoulders too, but whatever happens next
I have no
doubt: Ganji never dies.