Hossein Ronaghi-Maleki is an Iranian blogger arrested in 2009 and sentenced to 15 years in prison for helping journalists and activists get around government censorship of the Internet. Ronaghi’s imprisonment has put his health in grave danger, with serious heart and kidney issues going untreated by the Iranian authorities. In this exclusive Tavaana translation, Ronaghi tells former president and current Chairman of the Expediency Council Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani that the abuses directed at the blogger and his family have forced him to go on hunger strike. According to Ronaghi, Rafsanjani is the only official left in the Islamic Republic who might yet hear his plea.
Hossein Ronaghi: "I Will Not Bow to the Unfair and Unjust Judiciary"
“O Followers of Scripture! Why do you confound truth with falsehood and knowingly conceal the truth?” (Verse no. 71 of Al-e-Imran, third sura of the Qur’an)
To Grand Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, Chairman of the Expediency Discernment Council [of the Islamic Republic of Iran]
My greetings and respects.
You are most certainly aware of the conditions the people of Iran have endured in these past few years, and you know better than anyone else the extent to which the government has engaged in extremism and neglect of the law. As someone who spent a great deal of time as a political prisoner before the Islamic Revolution, you know the types of mistreatment and repression to which political prisoners are subjected. If you were being sincere, you and many other officials in the Islamic Republic would admit that some of the government’s interactions with political prisoners and their families surpass even those committed by the previous regime in their brutality and inhumanity.
Grand Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani,
You also know that hunger strikes, which put prisoners’ health and lives in danger, are always a last resort for those seeking justice and fairness. I am sorry to say that I have lost any hope in the capacity of most high-ranking officials in the Islamic Republic, or any part of the judiciary, to hold a fair trial. In trying to deal with the overly harsh and inappropriate treatment I face at the hands of security and court officials, I have no other option but to go on hunger strike. For example, the security official at the Tehran District Attorney General’s office responded to my complaints over prison conditions prison by saying: “You’ll go on hunger strike, and you’ll end up dead. After two or three weeks, the media will quiet down and everything will be over.” I am tired of the lawlessness that rules [this country]. I have no desire to endure any more insults or humiliation, and I do not wish to see my dignity or the dignity of my family ignored any further. I didn’t rape anyone at Kahrizak [a prison in southern Tehran where anti-government protestors were allegedly raped in 2009], nor did I commit any crimes in the street. I have been unjustly sentenced to 15 years in prison for criticizing the government, its corruption, and its violations of the law, for expressing my concerns for the future of Iran, for supporting human rights in this country, and for opposing the censorship of ideas. Let’s be honest: how long do we have to suffer the menacing shadow of dictatorship and mismanagement being imposed on our country by one small group of people?
Grand Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani,
I don’t want to live, enduring every injustice and paying any cost, just for the sake of living. If I have to, I will take the most arduous path toward proving my own innocence and the truth inherent in my words, but I will not bow to the unfair and unjust judiciary. I tell you of my suffering because, as Chairman of the Expediency Discernment Council, you are the only official left who might understand the pain and suffering of political prisoners and their families and take positive steps in response. You most certainly agree that it is not in the interest of the government, the people, nor the country to have our youth, our best and brightest, and our most freedom-loving and patriotic people die in prison despite being innocent of any and all crimes. In any event, they must be given the opportunity to serve their people. Just as Ayatollah Khamenei formally recognized those who do not believe in the Islamic Republic and asked them to participate in the presidential election for the good of the country, the security forces and the judiciary must recognize those people and their rights to life and freedom in their homeland. Iran belongs to all Iranians, regardless of their beliefs or their faith. If those ruling us accept, once and for all, that the country and the government cannot be monopolized by any one person or group, then these unjust equations will change. Instead of attacking our rights, the security forces and the judiciary can become our protectors.
[An excerpt of a poem by Ahmad Shamloo:]
I have never been scared of death
Whose hands are more brittle than banality.
My true fear, however,
Is dying in a land
In which the undertaker’s wage
Is worth more than the people’s liberty.
Seyed Hossein Ronaghi-Maleki