Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Man As Disabled as Iranian Democracy

When Neda Agha-Soltan was gunned down by an armed motorcyclist in a Tehran street, the world recoiled in horror. The grisly scene was a repeat of a similar incident in 2000, when a prominent reformist journalist and politician, Saeed Hajjarian narrowly escaped assassination - also by a gunman on a motorcycle. Both murder bids are thought to be the work of the 'Lebas Shakhsiha' - plainclothes security agents who operate beyond the reach of the law.

Shot in the face and neck, his injuries in that attack left Hajjarian severely disabled and needing constant medical care. Notwithstanding his severe disablement he was detained by Iranian authorities on June 15th.

After visiting him in prison, Vajiheh Marsousi, the wife of the dissident intellectual said his life is in danger due to his poor health and lack of medical care; and that he was under intense pressure to sign a false confession about an imaginary foreign plot to overthrow the government. He is now thought to be in a coma. Human Rights Watch has called for his release.

Back in 1972, Professor Muhammad Sahimi, of (whom we interviewed here) was a classmate of Hajjarian's in Tehran University. His profile of the man he describes as "one of the most important intellectuals and political thinkers of Iran over the past few decades," is here.

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