PARIS, 24 July (IPS) “Ayatollah Ali Khameneh’i is no more the leader, having overstepped his legitimacy by not responding to his Islamic duties. He must step down”, says Iran’s most prominent political dissident Akbar Ganji.
In a pathetic letter to the nation’s most senior dissident cleric, Grand Ayatollah Hoseynali Montazeri, Mr. Ganji cites a statement by the fonder of the Islamic Republic Grand Ayatollah Rouhollah Khomeini saying “every member of the population has the right to impeach publicly the ruling officials and if the impeached one has no satisfactory answer, otherwise and if having acted against his Islamic obligations, he must step down and if not, he is considered as removed from his position”.
“In the past years, Mr. Khameneh’i has been impeached time and again by many members of this nation but not only he has never dared to answer questions, he has sent to prison the questioners. Based on Mr. Khomeini’s thoughts and directives, Mr. Khameneh’i is no more the leader of the Islamic Republic and is removed from this position”, Mr. Ganji observed.
In the past years, Mr. Khameneh’i has been impeached time and again by many members of this nation, but he has never answered, therefor he can not be the leader of the Islamic Republic and is removed from this position.
The case of Mr. Ganji, an investigative journalist and political writer and polemist has developed in the most dramatic challenge to both the theocratic system of Iran and the very person of Mr. Khameneh’i, whom Mr. Ganji refers to as a “Sultan”.
Yielding to mounting internal and international pressures, the authorities transported Mr. Ganji to a hospital for medical treatment and alleging that he has ended his hunger strike.
But his wife, Mrs. Mas’oumeh Shafi’i told journalists on Saturday 23 July that her husband is still continuing his action and the reason that the Judiciary, controlled directly by Mr. Khameneh’i has transported him to hospital is because he had become unconscious.
Mrs. Shirin Ebadi, Iran's 2003 Nobel Peace Prize winner, and human rights campaigner and lawyer on Sunday 24 July warned the international human rights organisations and media about the "failing" health of Mr. Ganji.
Arrested on April 2000 on his return to Tehran after having taken part, with 17 other Iranian pro-reform journalists, lawyers, intellectuals, scholars, poets and even one cleric in a Conference organised in Berlin by the Heinrich Boell Institute, Mr. Ganji was sentenced to ten years imprisonment on charges propaganda against the Islamic Republic, endangering the State’s security and offending the leader.
But Mr. Ganji badly angered the authorities after, in several books and articles; he exposed the role played by former president Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and his then Intelligence Minister, Hojjatoleslam Ali Fallahian in the murder, late November 1999 of several influential and popular politicians and intellectuals.
“Another reason why the regime is so incensed with Ganji is that, unlike other critics inside and outside the system, he cannot be accused of wanting anything for himself. He is not a politician and is not gunning for office. By remaining just a “concerned citizen” he appeals to those Iranians who feel that they, too, have been let down by the system. And because he is not associated with any political group he is respected by all”, noted Mr. Amir Taheri, a veteran and career Iranian journalist in an article published on Saturday 23 July in the Riyadh-based, English language Saudi daily “Arab News” .
Adopting the same tactics as the leader of the Islamic Revolution of 1979, uniting the majority of Iranians under the simple slogan of “Shah must go”, Mr. Ganji, unlike other dissidents, has targeted the very person of Mr. Khameneh’i as a method to bring peaceful changes to Iran, replacing the present authoritarian, theocratic system by a democratic and secular one ruled by the power of a freely elected parliament.
“In the same vein that Mr. Khomeini would say Shah must go, now one has to say loud and clear Khameneh’i must go”, Mr. Ganji insisted.
“My dear friend Sa’id Hajjarian (a former senior intelligence official turned reformist and “architect” of the surprise landslide victory of Hojjatoleslam Mohammad Khatami in the presidential elections of 1997) wants to reduce the powers of the sultan to those of the Queen of England. Mr. Hajjarian has named as “the pressures from down under” for limiting the powers of the sultan, but I say that we don’t need a king or a queen… In my opinion, civil disobedience is the most important and the best tactic for a transfer from sultanism to democracy”, the 42 years-old Ganji said in his reply to Mr. Montazeri, who is 84 and in poor health condition.
Writing to Mr. Ganji on 16 July 2005, the dissident Grand Ayatollah-- once presented by Mr. Khomeini as the “pearls of my eyes” and considered as a heir to the late revolutionary leader until he was dismissed by Mr. Khomeini thanks to behind the scene maneuvering of a trio made of the son of the Grand Ayatollah Ahmad, the present leader and the former president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani -- was under house for five years and his theological classes shut for having criticized the way Mr. Khameneh’i is ruling the country as well as his “kingly lifestyle”, Mr. Montazeri had supported the struggle of Mr. Ganji while at the same urging him to end his hunger strike.
“After the mass execution of political prisoners in the summer of 1989 and despite a general silence concerning this inhuman crime, you were the only voice that resisted the slaughter and after you were placed under house arrest, you continued defending political prisoners and their families regardless of their ideologies. Your courage and resistance is such that even your enemies have confessed to it”, Mr. Ganji says in his answer.
But the problem of Iran would be solved only by the elimination of the velayate faqih and the removal of its representative.
“Even though your Excellency one of the writers of the Constitution and one of the most serious theoreticians of the velayate faqih (the rule of jurisconsult, the corner stone of the present Islamic system of Iran), but very soon you realized thatr the basic difficulty is rooted in that theory. You tried then to bring down the velayate faqih to the surveillance by the faqih in the hope that the ties that are strangling the Islamic Republic would opened. But the problem of Iran would be solved only by the elimination of the velayate faqih and the removal of its representative”, the political dissident pointed out.
Another tactic Mr. Ganji has suggested his countrymen to adopt for bringing a smooth, non violent change of the system is “no cooperation” with the regime, but mostly with the “authoritarian ruler”.
“You better than anyone knows why Hajjarian was shot and nailed to wheelchair, why (Abdollah) Nouri and (Mohsen) Kadivar were jailed respectively to 3 years and 18 months and why Ganji has become the regime’s bete noire (black beast). All because Mr. Khameneh’i is present everywhere, filled all places to the extend that any hands that stretches to any direction meets those of Mr. Khameneh’i, propagating that every thing, anything against his will is considered as violation of his vital space”, repeating, “that’s why he must go”, referring to former Interior minister under both Hashemi Rafsanjani and Khatami and the pro-reform Islamic philosopher advocating reforms in Islam.
“It is for this reason that I have spent 2.000 days behind bars during the leadership of Mr. Khameneh’i”, he stressed, adding “those who are after my life are in action. On the night of 26/4/84 (Iranian calendar corresponding to 17 July 2005) Sa’id Mortazavi (better known as the Butcher of the press for having shut down more than 200 Iranian independent and pro-reform publications on order of Mr. Khameneh’i who appointed his as Public and Islamic Revolutionary Courts Prosecutor) visited me saying your death is hundred per hundred to the benefit of the Islamic Republic of Iran. But if you die and foreigners create an atmosphere of propaganda, it is fifty per cent harmful to us. We brought you to hospital to reduce this price, since dying in a hospital is natural and warned if you repeat these things I would deny”.
“Our main problem in fighting for democracy is not the lack of intellectuals, theoreticians, philosophers or elite, but the lack of preparation for paying the price, as more than anything, democracy needs men of action, courageous women and youngsters that would resist. What opens the way to democracy and human rights is sacrifice, the path I’m going”, he said, warning:
“The equation is clear. The gentlemen want to kill me, but they should know that Ganji is not Zahra Kazemi (the Iranian-born Canadian photojournalist who was murdered last year allegedly at the hand of un-identified agents from the office of the Prosecutor). If Ganji dies under any circumstances, his murderer is no one than Mr. Khameneh’i. By assassinating Akbar Ganji, Mr. Khameneh’I might get rid of an opponent, but not escaping from his direct responsibility. The killing of Gani could be a drop of water in a desert, but a drop that would water grains of freedom and democracy”, he concluded.
The European Union, the United States and all major human rights groups have urged Tehran to consider the case of Mr. Ganji and release him unconditionally, but the judiciary has stressed it would not yield to international pressures to liberate the dissident.
However, a senior judiciary official said on Thursday that a pardon for Ganji might be considered and some Iranian analysts speculate that the president-elect might intervene with Mr. Khameneh’i in favour of Mr. Ganji.
In an unprecedented report, Iran's leader-controlled judiciary acknowledged on Saturday 23 July 2005 widespread human rights violations in prisons, including use of torture and solitary confinement, state-run media reported Sunday.
The report, compiled by Hojjatoleslam Abbas Ali Alizadeh and run by most newspapers as well as the conservatives-controlled, State-owned Radio, said prison guards and officials in detention centers have ignored a legal order banning torture. It also said police have made several arrests without sufficient evidence and held suspects in undeclared detention centers.
"Blindfolding and beating defendants, jailing a 13-year old boy for stealing a hen in the worst detention center, holding a 73 year-old woman in prison for lack of financial ability and taking a woman to prison because her husband is on the run are clear examples of human rights violations discovered by the judiciary in months of investigations", the report, handed to the Judiciary Chief, the Iraqi-born Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi, said.
The report said the judiciary also discovered a man in a prison since 1988 while no verdict had been issued against him. It didn't elaborate.
“Some detention centres run by the Revolutionary Guards had refused to admit inspectors or investigate whether prisoners' human rights were being respected”, Mr. Alizadeh said. ENDS GANJI 24705