Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Don't Let Akbar Die in Vain

...................................Photo of Akbar Mohammadi by Arash Ashoorinia (Source: Kosoof)

In the hours and days following Akbar Mohammadi's death in Evin prison, there was much speculation and rumor about the exact cause of his death since it was well known that years of being tortured was of course the umbrella cause.

The information that seemed most plausible has in fact come to light as being true, according to a report by Amnesty International (amongst others): during an official parliamentary visit to the prison on 30 July, prison guards gagged Mohammadi and tied him to his hospital bed (a place he spent an inordinate amount of time due to the non-stop torture he was subjected to, though he never did receive adequate medical care) so the officials could not see or hear him. And it was at this time that he was, as Amnesty puts it, "administered" an unspecified drug that ultimately led to his death in incarceration. It is not certain how this was administered but apparently he was able to deflect an injection of the drug into his body so instead the drug was given as a pill.

His parents who, though they were not allowed to bury their son, were allowed to see his body in the mortuary, have written an open letter about the signs of severe torture on their son's body. This family is shockingly brave: they do this knowing that their other son Manouchehr is also in Evin right now and is no doubt at risk of also being killed by the authorities at this point.

Not to mention the fact that Ahmad Batebi is also back in prison (and on hunger strike) and as the blogger Webgardian has stated so simply: his life is in our hands. The bloggers and people who have access to the media must make his case known loud and clear before others succumb to the horrible fate of Akbar Mohammadi and let us not forget Zahra Kazemi.

Many human rights groups have condemned the illegal and inhumane clandestine actions taking place in Evin, but the Saccharinist would like to know why our two most prominent human rights activists, Shirin Ebadi (who has made a brief statement about the closure of her human rights center but still has said nothing about Mohammadi) and Akbar Ganji (himself a newly released victim of torture at Evin) have said nothing substantial either to Iranians or the Western press which they have such easy access to. Ganji made a reference to Mohammadi in a letter to Kofi Annan yesterday, but it was a brief reference in a long letter focusing on the situation in Lebanon.

They didn't even sign a joint letter by a group of high profile Iranian human rights campaigners including Mehrangiz Kar, Mohsen Sazegara, Ali Afshari, Reza Delbari, Akbar Atri and Mohammad Maleki.

Why have Ebadi and Ganji maintained what is effectively a silence about the death of Akbar Mohammadi? Is it too much to ask that our two most well-known and well-connected human rights campaigners make a media issue of a gross human rights violation, especially at a time like this when both of them are on major lecture tours to promote human rights and democracy in Iran?

Labels: ,