IRAN WATCH CANADA

Saturday, October 14, 2006




Ganji Wins Prestigious Martin Ennals Award

Roozonline-
Maryam Kashani m.kashani@roozonline.com
13 Oct 2006

Iranian dissident journalist Akbar Ganji was awarded the prestigious 2006 Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders. In the ceremony held in Geneva, Ganji noted that Iran’s democracy movement faces two obstacles: an unfair international structure on the one hand, and an oppressive regime on the other.

Iranian dissident journalist Akbar Ganji was awarded the prestigious 2006 Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders. In the ceremony held in Geneva, Ganji noted that Iran’s democracy movement faces two obstacles: an unfair international structure on the one hand, and an oppressive regime on the other.
Praising the positive role of human rights organizations all over the world, Ganji said, “the international structure is such that human rights issues are subordinated to economic and business relations, and forgotten altogether during times of crisis.”
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour, Geneva’s mayor, and representatives from international human rights organizations attended this ceremony. The screening of a documentary depicting Ganji’s life aroused the emotions of the guests at the ceremony. It included interviews with Ganji’s wife, Masoumeh Shafii, pictures from Ganji’s hunger strike, and his speeches on the necessity of fighting for freedom and democracy.
After the documentary a forum was set in which Ganji was asked what he expected from international organizations in furthering his cause. Ganji responded, “We only need the spiritual and ethical support of these organizations, since we face two kinds of tyranny from governments. The first comes from the unfair international structure and the second from a tyrannical government that oppresses Iran’s democracy movement.”
“In fact,” added Ganji, “the international structure is such that human rights issues are subordinated to economic and business relations of governments. Within this framework, not even the United Nations can help human rights, because it is composed of countries that themselves violate human rights. In the newly formed Commission on Human Rights there are countries that themselves undermine human rights and vote for one another. It can’t be that human rights violators themselves be judges on those violations. We have objections to this structure and think that this commission must be composed of countries and independent organizations that would denounce any kind of human rights violations by any country. Such behavior is not possible within the current framework.”
We spoke a little with Ganji after the ceremony. Acknowledging the symbolic importance of such prizes in demonstrating international support for Iran’s fight for democracy and human rights, Ganji said, “These prizes show that the attention of international organizations has been focused on Iran. All of them, including the 11 organizations that attended the ceremony are monitoring the condition of human rights in Iran. Moreover, with such prizes the people of the world will look at Iran from a different angle. Also these prizes give hope and encouragement to those fighting for freedom and human rights in the country.”
“However,” said Ganji, “we cannot expect the international community to bring us democracy. A successful transition to democracy comes only through struggle and paying the costs by the Iranian people. How can the West bring democracy for Iran? A military attack would only destroy our country, not lead to democracy. And giving money to traitors and ‘Chalebi’s’ also will not lead to democracy.”
Talking about the nuclear crisis and the militarization of the world, Gani said, “Because of these issues human rights have been forgotten, even though we are asking for a fundamental change in the structure of international organizations such as the UN, so they can object to human rights violators with power and use different mechanisms to prevent oppression by government.”
In this respect Ganji recalled that UN human rights reporters traveled to different countries such as Iran regularly in the past, but not anymore.
At the end, Ganji commented on the increasing restrictions being imposed in Iran: “This situation too results form both internal and foreign causes. On the one hand, Bush’s militaristic foreign policy and the threat of a military attack have led to the growth of fundamentalism in Iran. On the other hand, the weak performance of the reformists has taken away people’s hope and trust. In effect, during the reform era (1997-2005) the reformists did not stand by their promises and this resulted in the loss of people’s trust – which is, once lost, very hard to gain back. Ayatollah Montazeri’s (leading dissident cleric) credit today results from years of struggle, standing up to the government and defending the rights of the oppressed. Today the Iranian society recognizes Ayatollah Montazeri as a symbol of resistance and trusts him. If the reformists are serious and honest about their slogans they must compare themselves to Ayatollah Montazeri, who is neither revolutionary nor a supporter of violence, but has not lost a moment to fight for freedom and human rights in Iran. The reformists must judge themselves by Ayatollah Montazeri’s standards.”

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