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Senators Brownback, Santorum, Biden Call for Ganji Release

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 16, 2005 4:21 pm    Post subject: Senators Brownback, Santorum, Biden Call for Ganji Release Reply with quote

Thursday, July 14, 2005
Annan Claims Ignorance on Iran Dissident

Eli Lake, The NY Sun:
As three senators joined President Bush's call for the Iranian regime to release dissident journalist Akbar Ganji from prison, the secretary-general of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, yesterday refused to comment when pressed, claiming ignorance on the matter.

When asked by a New York Sun reporter if he would speak out on behalf of Mr. Ganji in light of the president's statement Tuesday, Mr. Annan said, "I don't know enough about the case, so I'd prefer not to comment." READ MORE

Iranian authorities initially arrested Mr. Ganji in 2000 for publishing a book and writing news stories charging his country's political leaders with playing a role in the murder of dissident intellectuals in the late 1990s. Since June 11, when he was sent back to Evin prison after a brief release for medical treatment, Mr. Ganji has been on hunger strike, subsisting on a diet of sugar cubes and water.

In separate statements, Senator Biden, a Democrat of Delaware, and Senators Brownback and Santorum, Republicans of Kansas and Pennsylvania, respectively, called for the mullahs to release Mr. Ganji, whose health is failing, according to his wife. A press secretary for the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Richard Lugar, a Republican of Indiana, had no comment when asked yesterday.

On Tuesday, Mr. Bush specifically called on the United Nations to come out against Mr. Ganji's detention as his medical condition has deteriorated significantly. In a letter smuggled out of Evin last month, the writer reported that he had lost more than 40 pounds on his hunger strike.

Yesterday, 33 Iranian political activists wrote Mr. Annan requesting that the secretary-general personally press Mr. Ganji's case with the Iranian regime, according to the Associated Press. In an open letter the activists wrote, "For the sake of human rights, [we] ask you to intervene directly in Ganji's case and follow it as an urgent human rights issue," according to the AP.

Mr. Annan's spokesman, Stephane Dujarric, told the Sun yesterday that the activists' letter had not yet landed at Mr. Annan's office.

A liaison of the Geneva-based U.N. Human Rights Commission, Greg Mokhaiber, told the Sun yesterday that any call for U.N. aid to a jailed journalist, including one from the American president, is referred to the commission, the membership of which includes repeated rights violators such as Sudan and Libya.

"A statement to the press is not the most direct route to the United Nations," Mr. Mokhaiber said. A secretary-general is not bound to respond, he said, adding that in the past Mr. Annan has raised publicly specific cases of victims of human rights abuse. In his report on reform earlier this year, Mr. Annan recommended replacing the 53-member Human Rights Commission with a smaller council that would bar membership to rights offenders.

Iran's foreign ministry yesterday criticized Mr. Bush for raising Mr. Ganji's case in light of reported abuses of detainees at the American detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Calling the statement from the president "interventionist," the ministry's spokesman, Hamid Reza Asefi, told state-run radio yesterday, "The White House talks about violations of human rights in Iran while the world hates the U.S. violations of human rights in both Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib prisons."

Mr. Ganji's case is attracting attention from both sides of the political spectrum. Mr. Biden, who has favored direct negotiations with Iran on its nuclear programs, responded yesterday to the Sun's query about Mr. Ganji with a tough statement: "The Iranian government should release Akbar Ganji immediately and unconditionally. Ganji is a symbol of courage and a source of inspiration as he defies the forces of repression and intimidation that keep the hard-line mullahs in power."

Senator Brownback, who personally attached amendments to the 2004 and 2005 budgets authorizing the expenditure of American funds for Iranian democracy organizations in the country, yesterday offered his prayers for Mr. Ganji.

"Mr. Ganji represents many other political prisoners who are denied of their basic rights. Many Iranians claim that they live their daily lives as prisoners to the regime where they are denied most every fundamental human right," he said in a statement.

Mr. Santorum's communications director, Robert Traynham, yesterday said, "Mr. Ganji is in jail because he dared to criticize the hostile regime and expose the serial murders of intellectuals and journalists who have also spoken out for Iranian freedom. He and the others should be released immediately and given the same rights that all human beings deserve." Mr. Santorum has sponsored legislation that would offer international monitoring for a constitutional referendum in Iran, a campaign Mr. Ganji has helped organize.


Dr. Zin: We need every member of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee to be on record as to whether or not they support the President's position on Ganji. Here is a list of all the members of the committee http://foreign.senate.gov/about.html. Write of call now.
The Sun Is Rising In The West!Soon It Will Shine on All of Iran!
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