[UPDATE: Hossien has been sentenced to 19 years. Check the Globe and Mail.]
We live in a complex world with so many different states of consciousness competing for survival it can be heart rending, this life as a human. Last week I wrote about violence against women and now I want to quickly point out that violence against writers is also an issue. While I don’t want to pick on Iran particularly, they seem to be leading the charge in barbarity these days.
Censorship is one thing, but execution is a different thing altogether.
Hossein Derakhshan is a Canadian being held in Iran. According to the Ottawa Citizen, the 35-year-old has spent two years in solitary confinement. In June, he was tried on several charges including “collaborating with enemy states, creating propaganda against the Islamic state (and) insulting religious sanctity.” Earlier this week it was reported that the prosecutor in his case has called for his execution.
I mean death for blogging — it’s insane. To me it doesn’t matter whether his blog is anti-Iranian government, pro-Iranian government, pro-Islam, anti-Islam. Whatever. Blogging represents freedom of expression – globally. And that’s a basic human right.
All bloggers must protest what is happening to Mr. Derakhshan…we cannot let authoritarians, criminals and religious whack jobs keep free people silent. How could anyone condone or consider killing someone for their opinions, religious belief or personal practices? It’s one thing to actually take up arms and fight a government; but to take up the pen and be killed for it? This is criminal in the first degree.
I won’t repeat all the news of Mr Derakhshan because it’s all over the internet — please Google his name. But here’s a bit from the Ottawa Citizen if you want to start investigating this story:
“Derakhshan started one of the first blogs in the Persian language. Now 35, the “blogfather” is credited with starting the “blogging revolution” in Iran with his criticism of Iran’s political and religious establishment. In 2006, he used his Canadian passport to travel to Israel, where he spoke about reconciliation between Israel and Iran.
“Strangely, Derakhshan later renounced his reformist views and went on to endorse President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s anti-American policies and crackdown on dissidents. Derakhshan’s conversion, however, didn’t save him from being jailed in October 2008. He spent two years in solitary confinement, until, in June, he was tried on various charges, including “collaborating with enemy states, creating propaganda against the Islamic state (and) insulting religious sanctity.” Earlier this week it was reported that the prosecutor in his case has called his execution.”
Here’s a link to the Facebook group where you can show support for Mr. Derakhshan. When I visited, there was some 2,000 signatures on this petition. Help if you can.
Unfortunately Mr. Derakhshan is not the only writer in peril. According to Reporters Without Borders, nine netizens and 26 journalists are currently detained in Iran. The country appears on the Reporters Without Borders list of “Enemies of the Internet.”
This is a horrendous situation that demonstrates how some of us are still living in the dark ages.
Here’s a video of George Stroumboulopoulos interviewing Hossein Derakhshan in 2006. It will give you a good idea about who Derakhshan is…
“The Blogfather” news clipping