[Ppnews] Iranian Anti-Censorship Crusader Accepts Censorship at Amnesty International

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Wed Jul 26 14:56:08 EDT 2006

Iranian Anti-Censorship Crusader Accepts Censorship at Amnesty International

by Rostam Pourzal

At a press conference today, journalist Akbar Ganji had just finished 
vilifying the "intolerant culture" of non-Europeans when he failed to 
intervene against Western censorship happening right before his 
eyes.  He is touring the United States to, in his words, raise 
awareness about government abuses in Iran, including his six-year 
imprisonment that ended last March.  The other constant theme of his 
campaign has been the glorification of Western "achievements."  For 
his "courage," he has received numerous press freedom awards from 
European, Canadian, and American intellectual and media associations.

Ganji was the attraction at the posh Washington office of Amnesty 
International today, where several awe-struck staffers joined a dozen 
admiring reporters and Iranian backers of Ganji around a conference 
table.  No sooner had I placed copies of 
<http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/pourzal190706.html#_edn1>this open 
letter addressed to him on the table at the conclusion of the press 
conference than the same were snatched up by an AI enforcer, who told 
me I needed prior permission to have my freedom of 
expression.  Apparently the AI careerist was alarmed by doubts I had 
raised earlier in the session about Ganji's tour.  After all, if 
inconsistencies in the stories told in Amnesty's fundraising were to 
become public, could budget cuts and staff layoffs be far behind?

The staffer began to show me (registered as a reporter) the door but 
relented when I informed him that I was an AI member.  I reminded him 
that, if expressing diverse opinions at AI required official 
approval, we should not be criticizing Iran's theocracy for 
censorship.  But he would not let the reporters see my letter.

Ganji looked on but chose not to ask me for a copy of the letter or 
ask his AI hosts to respect my freedom of expression.  Presumably, 
human rights are so safe in a Western "democracy" that he did not 
trust his eyes as he witnessed AI's censorship!  When he returns to 
Iran, of course he will tell tall tales of total press freedom in 
America.  But he will not mention that no reporter at today's press 
conference defended my unorthodox take on Ganji.  His Iranian cohorts 
will no doubt agree that the consensus of corporate careerists is "democracy."
Ganji has risen to mythic stature in the eyes of elitist Iranian 
"pro-democracy" activists and Western seekers of "moderate Muslims" 
because six years in an Iranian prison have not dimmed his enthusiasm 
for neo-liberal policies.  Associated Press quoted him the other day 
as advocating the privatization of Middle East's oil resources: 
said that, until oil revenues are wrested from state hands, there 
will be virtually no democratic nations in the Middle East."

In other words, the "human rights activist" dreams of a day when the 
nationalization of Iranian oil, for which Prime Minister 
<http://www.mossadegh.com/>Mohammad Mosaddegh was 
<http://www.gwu.edu/%7Ensarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB28/>overthrown in 1953 
by the CIA, can be reversed.  If Ganji's recommended path to 
"democracy" sounds familiar, that is because it is identical to 
American plan for Iraqi oil, first revealed during the tenure of Paul 
Bremmer.  For reasons like this, Ganji has drawn little sympathy in 
Iran outside the struggling reformist (anti-populist) movement.  He 
must therefore appeal to what he calls the West's "civil society" 
(read: shadow government) and Iranians living abroad for help.

This should not come as a surprise because, like the ultra-right 
former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and her guru 
Friedrich von Hayek, Ganji extols Karl Popper's elitist philosophy of 
freedom throughout <http://www.hemaseyeganji.persianblog.com/>his 
writings, little of which have been translated from Farsi.  Thatcher 
and Hayek supported Chile's mass murderer, General Augusto Pinochet, 
because he restored market "freedom" in his country with the help of CIA.

Ganji is not the first Iranian opposition activist who thinks like 
Margaret Thatcher and yet declares, when he is cornered, that he 
admires social democracy!  But he is the one most embraced by Western 
libertarian circles.  Rumor has it that 
<http://www.nysun.com/article/35817>Noam Chomsky, who last year added 
his name to a petition demanding Ganji's release from prison, has 
agreed to meet with him.  If true, that should be an interesting 
meeting, because Ganji has consistently called for deregulation and 
the shrinking of government in Iran, as did Chomsky's nemesis, the 
late President Ronald Reagan.

(Puerto Rico is a colony of the U$ and it the policies of the 
colonial power that lead to its rates of imprisonment referred to below)


SOURCE: The International Centre for Prison Studies, 
World -- Prison Population Rates per 100,000 of the National 
Population," Accessed on 19 July 2006

Download the chart and data as 
<http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/PrisonPopulationRates.xls>an Excel file.

<http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/pourzal190706.html#_ednref1>The Open 
Letter Confiscated by Amnesty International:
America's Own Political Prisoners Rot While You Grab the Spotlight, Akbar Ganji

As family members and friends of a few of America's political 
prisoners, we are alarmed that you have brought your campaign for 
prisoner rights in Iran to our country.  You revive the legacy of 
pitiful Soviet defectors used by the Washington elite to justify 
wasting our nation's budget on subsidies for "defense" 
contractors.  The attention showered on you and other worshippers of 
so-called Western "freedom" keeps America's own dissidents cast as 
unpatriotic at the margins of public debate.

In the books and numerous articles you have authored, you have made 
clear your fascination with member countries of the NATO military 
pact.  You have also spoken with admiration of Western meddling in 
Ukraine, the so-called 

President Bush appreciates your support, as he desperately needs to 
divert attention from America's kidnap and torture of resisters here 
and abroad.  In a White House statement aimed at the government of 
Iran last year, he declared that 
<http://www.nysun.com/article/16897>"America stands with you," Mr. 
Ganji.  Former Israeli cabinet minister, 
<http://www.nysun.com/article/17463>Natan Sharansky, who campaigns 
nonstop for the confiscation of Palestinian land by Jewish settlers, 
joined President Bush to demand your release from prison in Iran.

You have called for 
<http://hoder.com/weblog/archives/015382.shtml>regime change in Iran 
and hope your publicity in New York and Washington will help 
democratic aspirations in your country.  But theatrics like your 
"hunger strike" at the UN is drawing attention away from a 465-page 
condemnation of the US government conduct sent to the UN by a 
coalition of leading human rights organizations (see 

We have thousands of political prisoners in the United States who are 
ignored by our media.  Unlike you, they do not have wealthy 
benefactors to fly them around the country and the globe.  With 
<http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/prisons.htm#findings>2.2 million 
prisoners, America is certified as having 
world's highest rate of incarceration.  We would like you to help us 
while you are in the spotlight by discussing police brutality and 
prisoner torture in our country, too.  After all, as you have said 
"No one is free until all are free."  Iranians have as much right to 
interfere in the internal affairs of the United States as vice versa, 
even if the almighty West were 
cradle of civilization," as you told the Voice of America in a recent 

Your campaign makes clear that you believe only the world's most 
dangerous (in your words, "advanced") countries deserve national 
sovereignty.  This is why you are here asking the West for "moral 
support" against your government.  We remind you that similar pleas 
by Kosovo "dissidents" preceded 78 days of intense bombing of 
Yugoslavia by NATO.  An example of such expansive "humanism" is 
<http://www.voltairenet.org/article135300.html>Borders, which hosted 
you last week with great fanfare in Paris.  The organization relies 
on funding from an American government entity called the National 
Endowment for Democracy, whose largesse has supported a number of 
disgruntled Iranian "intellectuals."

We wish the outspoken American journalist, 
<http://www.mumia.org/freedom.now/>Mumia Abu Jamal, could get 
attention from Reporters Without Borders like you do, Mr. Ganji.  He 
has been on death row in Pennsylvania for 23 years on fabricated 
charges because he speaks truth to power IN THIS COUNTRY.  But 
Reporters Without Borders specializes in embarrassing governments 
targeted with orange and purple revolutions only, where NED spends 
millions to incite "pro-democracy activists" like you.

If you have come here to stand with America's power elite -- our 
people's jailers -- our message to you is "Ganji Go Home!"

Ron Romelo, J. J. Amistad, Lisa Sedmark, Will Harrison, and Rostam Pourzal

Based in Washington DC, 
<http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/pourzal250506.html>Rostam Pourzal 
writes regularly on the politics of human rights.   MRZine has also 
published Pourzal's 
Fundamentalists Lose in Iran (For Now)" (3 August 2005); 
<http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/pourzal270206.html>"Open Letter to 
Iran's Nobel Laureate" (27 February 2006); 
<http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/pourzal090306.html>"Open Letter to 
Iran's Nobel Laureate: Part 2" (9 March 2006); 
<http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/pourzal250506.html>"The Shah: 
America's Nuclear Poster Boy" (25 May 2006); 
<http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/pourzal300506.html>"Iranian Cold 
Warriors in Sheep's Clothing" (20 May 2006); 
<http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/pourzal120606.html>"MEK Tricks US 
Progressives, Gains Legitimacy" (12 June 2006); 
<http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/pourzal180606.html>"What Really 
Happened in Tehran on June 12? Did Human Rights Watch Get It Wrong?" 
(18 June 2006); and 
<http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/pourzal240606.html>"Iran's Western 
Behavior Deserves Criticism" (24 June 2006).

The Freedom Archives
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 863-9977
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://freedomarchives.org/pipermail/ppnews_freedomarchives.org/attachments/20060726/a82fad2d/attachment.html>
-------------- next part --------------
A non-text attachment was scrubbed...
Name: 19b3f6d3.jpg
Type: image/jpeg
Size: 73483 bytes
Desc: not available
URL: <http://freedomarchives.org/pipermail/ppnews_freedomarchives.org/attachments/20060726/a82fad2d/attachment.jpg>

More information about the PPnews mailing list