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As of January 2009, this site is definitely closed, but you can follow Safa Haeri on his new blog: DAMAVAND at

The Fight for Iran’s Freedom

Published Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Feb 18, 2008 Issue

It is easy to criticize U.S. policy toward the Middle East today: Washington's militaristic approach has contributed to the growth of fundamentalism and helped strengthen dictatorial regimes. Still, Iran's fundamentalist rulers often use such criticism as a way of disguising their own ineptitude and their responsibility for Iran's deplorable conditions— including the suppression of civil society, which is undergoing another severe crackdown as I write.

On 13 October, Ms. Zahra Bani Yacoub, a physician, was seized by police for daring to walk alongside her fiancé; a few days later, her corpse was handed over to her family, with no explanation.

The mullahs' strategy is simple. To retain power, they need an enemy. They thus seek to keep their country on a perpetual war footing by playing up the notion that the Bush administration is conspiring to overthrow them, destroy the Islamic republic and undermine Islam itself. Nonviolent activists, human-rights defenders and intellectuals are labeled enemy agents. And Iran's deteriorating economic conditions are attributed to U.S. sanctions rather than to Tehran's chronic mismanagement.

Internationally, Iran calls on the great powers to practice benevolence, justice and brotherhood, yet it routinely violates these ideals itself. The Islamic republic has a deplorable human-rights record. In the summer of 1988, it executed thousands of political prisoners in disregard for even Iran's own legal procedures. In the 1990s, Intelligence Ministry agents assassinated dozens of Iranian dissidents at home and abroad under a project that later became known as "the serial killings." When this project was exposed during Mohammad Khatami's presidency, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei blamed a few rogue officers. Yet the people who had ordered the killings went unpunished, and many now serve in senior government posts.

Under President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the repression has intensified. Dozens of newspapers have been banned, Web sites blocked, proponents of greater rights for women and ethnic and religious minorities suppressed. Books are severely censored. In November, an academic journal, Madreseh, was banned for daring to publish the views of Mohammad Mojtahed Shabestari, a distinguished dissident cleric. In all, more than 100 such independent publications have been shut down in recent years.

Meanwhile, religious scholars who question the government's line, such as Mohsen Kadivar, Hassan Yousefi Eshkevari and Ayatollah Hussein Ali Montazeri, have been jailed or placed under house arrest. So have workers, such as Mansour Osanloo, who have tried to form independent trade unions. Students who criticize government policy are taken to jail, where they are forced to confess to crimes they have not committed.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
Under President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the repression has intensified.

Beginning last summer, Ahmadinejad's government launched what it calls a "societal-security project." On the pretext of combating manifestations of immorality, police have beaten innocent women and youngsters in the streets for displays of "immodesty," such as holding hands or wearing tight-fitting or stylish clothing. They have detained many others. The "project" is having tragic consequences. On Oct. 13, for example, a physician named Zahra Bani Yacoub was seized for daring to walk unescorted alongside her fiancé; a few days later, police handed over her corpse to her family, with no explanation. Iran's rulers constantly speak about protecting women's dignity, yet they violently suppress Iranian women. The regime preaches religious, moral and spiritual values, yet it practices the antithesis of these values.

Meanwhile, thanks to Khamenei's nuclear ambitions, Iranians now face the possibility of new sanctions and an unwanted and ruinous war. Iran's reformists oppose the nuclear program, which they have criticized in open and confidential letters to the government, calling on Tehran to suspend the enrichment of nuclear fuel. Nobel laureate Shirin Ebadi and other human-rights activists have insisted that the government hold a referendum on its nuclear policies so the public's real views can be established. But the government, unsurprisingly, has refused. ENDS GANJI 19208

Editor’s note: A former official of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Mr. Akbar Ganji left the administration, helped exposing the assassinaton of political and intellectual dissidents by the regime and turned dissident, spent years in prison, from where he wrote some political essays, including a Republicanism Manifesto.




1 comment(s) on this page. Add your own comment below.

Saturday, March 8, 2008 13:12 [ 1 ]

Dear sir,I am so glad to find your site.I am an iranian living in the UK for over 35years.recently my desire to return to my motherland has pushed me to think seriously about returning to iran and have not only invested in iran setting up factory to produce my type of business and ofcourse creating a small number of employment but finding it very difficult to diggest and accept everything you are saying.for the past 4 years i have been travelling to tehran 3-4 times per year and have not found living in iran as bad as what you are call the goverment "regim" and yet the goverment was elected by majority,and i am sure you who strongly belive in a western democrocy can accept rulling of majority over minorities.In my travells i see plentifullness in everything,food,cars,fule,accomodation etc etc,what is remaining the same is the old attitude of corroption which have always existed in iran and in deed it exist in the west perhaps not to that degree.In your article you ask for fighting for freedom in iran,but what dose that mean?would you mind mailing me your background and your aims and objectives becouse non of the points you are writting in my view carries a credible weight.Please do not think that i am a fully fleged supporter of the current goverment in iran but i am simply getting myself prepared to live in iran. have you thought of what would happen when the oil runs out in iran,let me tell you that we shall become an other africa. Your disagreement with the advancement of nuclear power is wrong and we need to get ourselves ready for the day when increas in demand for energey and decrease in oil resources in our country can set us back an other 200 years.I am a stong CND beliver but in this instance am prepared to make exception and I think you should do the same.please write to me and educate me.thank you

Comments on this page are closed.

As of January 2009, this site is definitely closed, but you can follow Safa Haeri on his new blog: DAMAVAND at

Akbar Ganji
A leading political dissident, Mr. Akbar Ganji is visiting Europe and the United States, campaigning against the IRI's despotism.

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