Ganji's Speech before Chomsky visit to hunger strikers in NY


by BabakSabzevari

This is a full translation of Akbar Ganji's remarks (as posted on YouTube) on Thursday July 23 at the hunger strike in front of the UN building in New York. He was speaking right before Noam Chomsky joined the event.

The remarks are posted to YouTube here (in Persian):


We and the people who struggle inside Iran and abroad for democracy
and human rights never have and never will under any circumstances
defend the militaristic policies of the US government or any other
government. No Iranian wants any country to militarily attack its
country, and does not want anyone to even think of or have any thoughts
about attacking the Islamic Republic of Iran [applauds]. I'm pointing
this out because I want to be clear that this is the thinking of people
who have organized this event.

I also want to point out that the people who signed this statement and
invited people to take part in this event do not under any circumstances
support economic sanctions against Iran. We oppose any sanctions that
might hurt the Iranian people [applauds], and have no doubt that sanctions
will hurt the Iranian people, not the oppressors. Of course, there are
certain sanctions that will hurt the despots, and we too will naturally
defend those types of sanctions. There are those in Iran who are the
directors, perpetrators, and agents of oppression; they must be confronted
as abusers of human rights. This is our expectation; it doesn't mean
that if at the time of Bush militaristic policies were put forward that
hurt the defenders of human rights in Iran and the whole region, we should
ignore the issue of human rights today.

It is every human's and every government's duty to defend and uphold
human rights, not in the form of having double standards such that in
Iran human rights must be respected but in the countries neighboring
Iran, countries such as Libya, Saudi Arabia, Turkmenistan where the
human rights situation is far, far worse than the human rights situation
in Iran, but this situation is completely ignored.

We don't want to see a Libya-like compromise with Iran. You saw how the
US government reached an agreement with Colonel Qaddafi to abandon his
nuclear project, and you never hear from the US government or the media
here how Libyans are being suppressed and how that country is far worse
than Iran when it comes to human rights. And these are the double
standards in relation to Iran.

When we defend human rights, we defend it in all countries, including
the US, including Israel, including Pakistan [applauds], and the situation
in those countries must be addressed too. We should not close our eyes
to the situation; look at what the Saudi government is doing, and nobody is
speaking out about it.

Of course, we are happy that human rights violations in Iran are
being seen, and we have organized this event so that the world can see
how the the regime is violating human rights. Therefore, defending human
rights and condemning violations of human rights is the duty of every
government. If a government says human rights are being violated in
Iran, it is not as though it is interfering in the internal affairs of
Iran. It is not at all. For example, the Iranian government itself
speaks out against human rights violations or violations of the rights
of Muslims when they take place in other countries, albeit as a double
standard. If this happens in countries like Russia and China, because
of its relationships with such authoritarian regimes, the Iranian
government remains silent.

I also want to point out something about the United Nations. The United
Nations is not a democratic entity. It is an institution made up of
governments, and these governments are largely undemocratic. The United
Nations Human Rights Commission is made up of 53 countries, most of which
are violators of human rights. Therefore, when a county's file is referred
to this commission, all the human rights violators on the commission will
vote in each other's interests: Iran, Libya, Saudi Arabia, China. You
can never expect a statement to come out of that commission which would
condemn Iran or another country for human rights violations [applauds].
Or you cannot imagine that they would send a representative to the country.

Two years ago, I met with Ms Arbor [Louise Arbor, the UN's Human Rights
Commissioner] in Switzerland, and we talked for four hours, and she took
notes during the entire time. I said this is the human rights situation
in Iran. At the end she told me very frankly "look, in Somalia, there are
half a million people dead, and we discussed it for three weeks, and couldn't
come up with a single line condemning the situation. I will put your mind
at ease: there will not be any condemnation issued against Iran, and if
you expect them to send a representative to Iran, this will not happen."

What we have to do as an Iranian, is to look to civil society groups and
the media, and work with these institutions which are independent of
governments, and they can deliver our message to the world, and they can
put pressure on their governments to condemn human rights violations in
the world.

You have seen how the greatest intellectuals in the world are supporting
the people of Iran. And when you look at the Left, there are two kinds
of groups, those who are wholly focused on Imperialism, and if Ahmadinejad
or Mr Chavez stand up to imperialism, they become heroes for these people.
But on the other side, there is a huge group of people on the left, like
Chomsky, like [inaudible], and for them human rights are very important,
so at the same time they condemn militaristic US policies, they defend
people's rights in other countries.

Today we are waiting for Mr Chomsky to arrive and speak to us [applauds],
and I now invite Ms Neshat to come up and continue the program.



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