I read with interest your earnest appeal in “Letter to America” posted in Washington Post today. I appreciate and share many of the views you've expressed and the necessary measures needed to ease tensions between Iran and the United States. I also fully understand your lingering bitterness and bias against Iranian government which is a natural reaction to your unjust and gratuitous 6-year long incarceration. What I found perplexing was your total lack of acknowledgement of the human rights violations you so vehemently abhor by the country your letter addresses.
The history of the United States did indeed begin with the establishment of a civilized nation under a Constitution. But the American people also demanded and eventually received the Bill of Rights which guaranteed that the new government would not trample upon their newly won freedoms of speech, press, and religion, nor upon their right to be free from warrantless searches and seizures. These privileges were referred to in the Declaration of Independence as “unalienable rights.” They were also called “natural” rights, and correctly described by James Madison, fourth American President and one of the original contributors to the Constitution, as “the great rights of all mankind.”
If you had an opportunity to keep up with or catch up on world affairs, United States in particular, in the last few years, you would be shocked to learn that those very rights are under attack and flagrantly violated in America today.
Forty days after the September 11, 2001 attacks, U.S. government shoved through and Congress passed, with virtually no debate, the USA Patriot Act giving the government the power to access medical records, tax records, and information about the books its citizens buy or borrow, and the power to break into their homes and conduct secret searches without telling anyone for weeks, months, or indefinitely.
Just ask Mr. José Padilla, a U.S. citizen, who was arrested by authorities on May 8, 2002, at Chicago's O'Hare airport and held incommunicado without due process. Or Mr. Esam Hamdi another American citizen captured in Afghanistan in 2001 by the U.S., labeled “illegal enemy combatant”, and detained for almost three years without any charge. Or hundreds of other persons who were swept up, detained, or sent to overseas to be tortured and interrogated. Don't these acts, by your own definition, make the current ruling American regime also irresponsible and dangerous?
It is nice to see that you are promoting direct talks and taken a position against outbreak of another war against what you've correctly described as a large and populous country like Iran which would only lead to further destabilization of an already disturbed region, thanks in large to unwise military adventurism on the part of US/UK and their ever-shrinking coalition of the bribed.
Mr Ganji, your well-intentioned letter is addressing the people of a nation that are being scared into giving up their liberties in exchange for security; and where some are slowly waking up to the reality that the very government you're pleading for help to address human rights violation in Iran, is doing everything to suppress those same rights both within its own borders and at other gulags and detention camps set up across the world at the expense of its own citizens.
Words are cheap: Addressing the UN General Assembly, Mr. Bush proclaimed that “the goals of this country is to help those who feel hopeless, to spread liberty, and to enhance prosperity and peace”, while his administration has done everything to destroy hope and undermine freedom by bringing war and terror to many, and financial peace to few. Happiness, peace and security are universal values that promote stability and worth protecting. Prosperity is the fruit of such permanence for all to enjoy and should not be limited to a closed circle of affluent war profiteers.
Let's hope that your call to peace does not fall on deaf hears and America wakes up to its folly and once again upholds the basic principles it was founded upon.
Daniel M Pourkesali is a member of the Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran. This article was originally published in CampaignIran.org.