Magazine article Foreign Policy

Akbar Ganji: A Former Tenant of Tehran's Infamous Evin Prison and Award-Winning Investigative Journalist Offers His Advice to Those Who Carry on the Fight

Magazine article Foreign Policy

Akbar Ganji: A Former Tenant of Tehran's Infamous Evin Prison and Award-Winning Investigative Journalist Offers His Advice to Those Who Carry on the Fight

Article excerpt

At the time of the revolution, I was a 19-year-old kid. I lived in one of the most poverty-stricken parts of Tehran and was active in the anti-shah resistance. I was captured by the illusion that we could create a new history and change the course of humanity. I now know that position is completely unsound. We Iranians had to pay a huge price to learn this truth.

[During the 1997 presidential election], I took advantage of a precious opportunity to expose the assassination of political dissidents and minorities. It was dangerous, but I was able to force the regime to confess and accept responsibility. I demonstrated that dozens of people were assassinated and that the orders had come from the supreme leader and a few other senior leaders. Exposing these killings has meant that such crimes have not--until now--been repeated.

Paying a price can be a two-way street. When the Iranian regime put me in jail, I thought they should also pay a price. I wrote many letters and articles from my prison cell, and I managed to smuggle them out and have them widely circulated.

I spent time in the solitary-confinement cells of the Department of Prisons, the Intelligence Ministry, and the Revolutionary Guards. …

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