Asharq Al-Awsat, London – Several prominent Iranian intellectuals, including the Islamic thinker Abdel Karim Soroush and the religious scholar and member of the opposition Dr. Mohsen Kadioor, urged, on Thursday, the jailed writer and journalist Akbar Ganji to end his hunger strike which is entering its fifth week. According to his wife, Masoumeh Shafii, Ganji is close to death, after losing over twenty kilos.
Gangi was sentenced to six years behind bars by the General Prosecutor, Said Mortazavi, also responsible for halting over 170 reformist newspapers and magazines, under direct orders from the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Akbar Khamenei. He was accused of publishing books that are opposed to the Islamic Republic, especially his controversial investigative manual, “The Dungeon of Ghosts”. The book looks into the role of Ali Fallahian, former head of intelligence, in overseeing political assassinations and analyses the presence of “ghosts of oppression” amongst the intelligence mafia, in addition to exploring the religious establishment’s involvement in the murder of over 200 reformist intellectuals, inside Iran and beyond.
Originally, the maverick journalist was sentenced to six years in jail, later quashed by the appeals judge, Ali Bakhshi, who rejected the accusations leveled against Gangi. However, after the Supreme Leader intervened and ordered a retrial, the journalist was found guilty and received a longer sentence.
From his prison cell, Gangi increased his efforts to establish a democratic and secular civilian government. He smuggled a crucial document in which the reformist camp calls for a change in the structure of the Islamic Republic. In hospital, he wrote the second volume of his book “Republican Manifesto” arguing the Wilayat al Faqih (the rule of the Ayatollah) forbids any opposition.
On the eve of the presidential elections, boycotted by most in the reformist camp, Gangi announced he was beginning a hunger strike, in spite of the authorities giving in to some of his demands. The jailed journalist remained adamant that he was innocent and should therefore be released without any conditions.
Asharq Al Awsat obtained a copy of the letter addressed to Gangi and written by Soroush, Kadioor, former Deputy Prime Minsiter Izzat Allah Sahabi who spent three years behind bars, in addition to Said Hajarian, who is partially paralyzed after Revolutionary Guards attempted to assassinate him, and the reformist writer and managing editor of the suspended Sobh-e Emruz daily, Ali Reza Alavi Tabar.
The letter is as follows: “We were all mistaken when we called for justice and the rule of law from a government of jurists. You are currently paying the price of our fantasies because you considered freedom to be crucial. Be strong and your spirit will not be broken. It is those that keep you behind bars that are losing the battle. Do not give up on life. Your departure will destroy us all. A hero is a thousand times better alive than dead.”