Wednesday, 30 August 2006

Iranian dissident freed [Updated]

JahanbeglooThe good news is that Ramin Jahanbegloo has been released on bail from an Iranian jail. The bad news is that it apparently required a bogus confession (yes, I'm making a value judgment here) and a prohibition against communicating with foreigners of any kind, especially the media.

Ramin Jahanbegloo is that most dangerous of Iranian dissidents: a Western-educated thinker who believes in dialogue and a secular state. His invitations to Western philosophers for lectures posed such an acute danger to the Iranian government that he obviously had to be jailed for "being involved is US efforts to overthrow the government". Of course.

His dual Canadian/Iranian citizenship probably did him more harm than good, especially in the wake of the Kazemi affair. Canada doesn't exactly have any big sticks to beat Iran with in this kind of case, but the Foreign Minister, Peter Mackay, did take the highly unusual step in June of asking Germany to arrest Iranian Prosecutor General Saeed Mortazavi, an Iranian official implicated in the murder of the photojournalist, should he set foot in Germany on the way home from Geneva.

Iran did not appreciate the gesture and Mortazavi took a direct flight home.

I applauded the action of the Canadian government at the time. It may not have been a grand gesture, but it did signal to the Iranian government that we would do whatever was in our reach to defend our citizens. Unfortunately there was little we could do in the Jahanbegloo case that wouldn't endanger him further.


I'm not the only one questioning the validity of Jahanbegloo's "confession".

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amba said...

I'd trade your knowledge of that for postmodern art every day, she said admiringly.

Janet said...

Amba, because of his dual citizenship, Jahanbegloo probably gets more coverage in Canadian media than in American. We have a vested interest in him, and the anger over the Kazemi affair means that we're a wee bit tetchy with Teheran right now.

I don't often do "news" here, but I figured this was something that would probably be neglected and deserved a wider audience. So I did my wee bit.


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