The Road to Democracy in Iran

The Road to Democracy in Iran

MIT Press, 2008 more...

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The author of this collection of short essays was imprisoned in his native Iran for advocating universal human rights based on freedom from pain, fear and intimidation. Akbar Ganji, dubbed Iran’s “most famous dissident,” distills his arguments into a few pivotal points that are openly, clearly idealistic – even more so in light of the policies of Iran’s rulers. Ganji’s essays are not practical, but philosophical, although he is very down-to-earth when he describes the plight of Iranian women. getAbstract recommends them to those who are interested in finding out more about Ganji and, to a much lesser degree, learning more about Iran’s political environment.


Foreword: Piety and Democracy

Akbar Ganji was once a commander in Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. He objected to the repressive government and became an investigative reporter in the 1990s. He traced a series of murders of Iranian intellectuals to the hands of Iran’s secret police. He was imprisoned for six years as a pro-democracy dissident. In 2005, the last year of his sentence in Evin Prison, Ganji undertook hunger strikes for a total of “more than 70 days.” While he was in solitary confinement, his weight fell to 58 kilograms.

Over the course of Ganji’s imprisonment, the nation’s prosecutor, Saeed Mortazavi, and the head of its Justice Department, Abbasali Alizadeh, issued a string of contradictory public statements: They claimed Ganji was being taught a lesson, that he had medical problems, that he did not have medical problems and, finally, that he had a respiratory illness. Prison officials beat him. One prison guard put a drug dealer into Ganji’s cell and told the dealer to kill him. When Ganji screamed and alerted the other prisoners about his new cellmate, the authorities backed off. Mortazavi told Ganji’s wife, “What will happen if Ganji dies? Dozens die every...

About the Author

Akbar Ganji, a former Iranian military commander and investigative reporter, is a noted dissident. He was jailed for six years in Iran for advocating human rights. Since his release in March 2006, he has been active with the human rights movement outside Iran.

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