Tuesday, August 01, 2006

One Akbar is Not Worth More Than the Other

Twenty four hours had not yet passed since the death of Akbar Mohammadi when the embarassing and shameful exploiters of others' suffering thrust themselves into the limelight.

Our self-appointed "leaders" have dusted off their fit-for-every occassion form letters and the variety of groups and sub-groups have begun the blame games. A whole lot of people keep saying: if this was Akbar Ganji and not Akbar Mohammadi, people would have supported him, spread the news, and prevented his death. If you read these discussions, you get the sense that people are more upset over the fact that Ganji didn't die than they are over the death of Mohammadi.

Ganji went to the edge of death and back, and it is true that his case drew worldwide attention. But the man was on hunger strike for a near 70 days! During the first ten days of his hunger strike, Ganji did not receive a whole lot more attention than Mohammadi, who had just barely passed the firt week of his hunger strike before he unexpectedly and suspiciously passed away.

Besides, the same people who are busy pointing fingers at Akbar Ganji and his supporters for not embracing the case of Akbar Mohammadi earlier seem to forget that there are many other political prisoners in Iran whose names are never mentioned or even known because their ideological stances do not match those of the vultures that run the so-called Iranian opposition media abroad.

What exactly were Mohammadi's ideological leanings? I don't know. If the statements of those who are killing themselves in the last of couple of days to claim him as one of their own are true, then Mohammadi's political vision was quite far from mine. But the fact is that I don't know what Mohammadi's ideas were, and it is all quite beside the point. The only relevant matter here should be that this man and his brother spent over seven years in jail without evidence of having carried out any crimes other than holding a political ideology that did not please certain authorities, and now one of these young men has paid for his views with his life.

One Akbar is not worth more than the other. But harping on the fact that Akbar Ganji survived his hunger strike and Akbar Mohammadi did not shows that the writers of these complaints think that somehow the one who died is worth more than the one still among us.

Meanwhile, Ahmad Batebi is still unaccounted for, presumed to be on hunger strike as well. I hope that the Iranian Human Rights Industry--to borrow a phrase coined by a fellow activist--can put aside their interrivalries for long enough to publicize this disappearance without trying to gain something for themselves in the process.