Iranian dissidents oppose US aggression
UNITED NATIONS — Iranian pro-democracy activists strongly oppose any military attack on their country but want the world to condemn Tehran's human rights violations, Iranian dissident journalist Akbar Ganji said in a petition seen Monday.
"We categorically reject a military attack on Iran," the high-profile dissident said in an open letter to UN chief Ban Ki-moon, a copy of which was obtained by AFP.
The prominent dissident, who is currently in the New York area, said talk of a possible attack on Iran over Tehran's refusal to suspend its uranium enrichment program was making "things extremely difficult for Iranian human rights and pro-democracy activists".
"No Iranian wants to see what happened to Iraq or Afghanistan repeated in Iran," said Ganji, who spent five years in prison for articles linking officials to a string of killings of intellectuals in Iran.
Ganji's call came in the wake of rumblings out of Western countries, most recently France, about a possible military response to Tehran's alleged effort to develop nuclear weapons.
It came to light also just as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad began his third visit to the United States to address the UN General Assembly.
Ganji also said that Iranian democrats also "watch with deep concern the support in some American circles for separatist movements in Iran."
But he urged Ban and "all of the world's intellectuals and proponents of liberty and democracy to condemn the human rights violations of the Iranian state."
"We hope that with your excellency's immediate intervention, all of Iran's political prisoners, who are facing more deplorable conditions with every passing day, will soon be released," Ganji said.
His letter was endorsed by 300 prominent academics from around the world, including South African Nobel Literature Prize laureates Nadine Gordimer and J.M. Coetzee as well as Peruvian novelist Mario Vargas Llosa and Italian novelist Umberto Eco.
Ganji also warned that "the dismemberment of Middle Eastern countries will fuel widespread and prolonged conflict in the region."
He pointed out that Washington could best foster democracy in the Middle East by promoting "a just peace between Palestinians and Israelis and pave the way for the creation of a truly independent Palestinian state alongside the state of Israel."
Ganji, 47, was detained in 2000 and sentenced to six years in prison in 2001 after he wrote articles implicating several regime officials in a string of gruesome murders of opposition intellectuals and writers in 1998.