Sunday, May 07, 2006

Iran Crisis: Philosophers Unite! And On Yer Spivak Bikes!

This is not about stark existential choices, this is not about philosophers choosing to interpret the world as opposed to philosophers trying to change it; it is about systematic and ruthless dialogics [origin: The Pedagogy of The Oppressed] ...

Ramin Jahanbegloo in Tehran

BBC News confirms the bad news circulating in the past few days. Iranian-Canadian philosopher Ramin jahanbegloo has been arrested. On charges of spying and posing a security threat, Fars News adds. Kayhan also furthur elaborates.

Academic and philosopher Ramin Jahanbegloo, who has joint Iranian and Canadian citizenship, was arrested on 27 April at Tehran's Mehrabad Airport. He is now believed to be held incommunicado in Evin Prison, in Tehran, where he is at risk of torture or ill-treatment. There are unconfirmed reports that he is being held in the hospital wing. He may be a prisoner of conscience, detained solely on account of the peaceful exercise of his right to freedom of expression.

Latest news reports here.


This is extremely disturbing, and evidence of the sheer paranoia that has overtaken the Iranian regime in response to the US/Israel's plans to invade the country. And, tragically, it's going to get worse, with Iran now treating intellectuals, artists and dissidents much like the US treatment of "illegal combatants" in numerous secretive prison camps.

I briefly met Jahanbegloo a few years ago when he was giving a talk over here, and my sentiments very much echo those of Iranian-Canadian Hoder:

What I liked about him was his ability to talk about theory without making you feel stupid, his casual attitude towards the group (everyone was calling him by his first name at his own request, which is quite unusual among Iranians who have an obsession with long titles and formal respect.) His energy in persuading everyone to work in the group was admirable. So was his positive energy.

Last time I saw him was last June in Iran. It was a big surprise. He was married and they were expecting a baby. He seemed very proud of returning to Iran and starting a family life.

What's even more worrying is that there are now unconfirmed reports [CBS News] that Jahanbegloo has been transfered to a hospital, according to a close friend, though no more detail is available yet.

Jahanbegloo has published writings on Hegel, Gandhi, and Martin Luther King, and has interviewed Paul Ricoeur, Jurgen Habermas, and Isaiah Berlin:

It's a real pity that Chomsky never managed to visit him in Iran, following this interview with Jahanbegloo at MIT just before his move back to Tehran in 2002:

Ramin Jahanbegloo: I was going to ask you to visit Iran. When will we have the pleasure of having you among us in Iran. I am sure that the Iranian scholars would love to have an open discussion with you?

Noam Chomsky: Thank you for the invitation, but I can't promise you the exact date. It's not easy to work out such an attractive invitation with all these files I am working on. But I will come to Iran sooner or later.

Ramin Jahanbegloo: Talking about the Middle East, how do you see the future of the Iranian-American relations? What could the citizens of the two countries do to ameliorate the relations between the two countries?

Noam Chomsky: I think the citizens of both countries have a common interest in changing the harmful policies in their countries. Of course they deal with it as people always can, I mean by setting solidarity relations to the extent that it is possible. I think Americans and Iranians can create these relation networks through all kinds of communications such as science, culture, sports, intellectual visits, trade etc. Us policy is interesting in this case. I mean practically always foreign policy is a clear reflection of primary economic interests. But this is a case where they diverge. So if you took a look at the energy corporations in the US, most of them are in favor of reintegrating Iran into the dominant global system and have tried to do so. But the US government is walking them, which is quite unusual. Usually it mainly supports their interests in the region. I think you can imagine the reasons when you compare to other cases. There is a very important principle of statecraft which is called "establishing credibility". What that means is that everybody should be terrified of you. Mafia understands this concept very well. If you are a Mafia Don, it is not enough to have people do what you say; they have to be afraid of you. So if a storekeeper doesn't pay protection money you just don't go and get the money, you make an example of him so that everyone else understands. That's establishing credibility. If you look at the official reasons for bombing Serbia in 1999, it was to establish credibility. They call it "NATO credibility" but that means of course "US credibility". I mean that people should know that you are the boss or otherwise you get smashed. Now let us go to Iran. Iran tried in 1953 to take control of its own resources. That ended up with a coup d'etat. The Shah was a very loyal client of the US and the US loved him. There was a survey on the violations of human rights in Iran which was published by a journalist of the New York Times. Well, when you look at this report it mentions that from 1953 to 1979 the US government believed that there were no human rights violations in Iran. When Carter went to Iran in 1978 he told the Shah how impressed he was by the degree that the Iranians loved him. I mean Iran was just fine as long as it was doing what the US wanted. But in 1979 Iran broke the rules. It pulled out and turned independent and that has to be punished. Even if the reformists could succeed and wanted to re-integrate Iran back into the system they would probably be prevented from doing it. Because the US wants to make an example of Iran to show other people in the Middle East that they can't do these kind of things. You don't break ranks and disobey the orders of the master. That's credibility and I think a lot of policies are driven by that. It is hard to explain on other grounds. It's for example very counterproductive on the economic level.

I'm sincerely hoping that a sufficient number of Western intellectuals (Chomsky, Zizek, you, etc) and well-placed politicians (Galloway, Benn, etc) with a proper, balanced understanding of the current Iranian crisis will, along with Iranian artists and intellectuals [especially those whom I know, including Kiarostami and Panahi], seriously rally and lobby the Iranian authorities to release Jahanbegloo as soon as possible ... I'm currently bombarding the Iranian Embassy in Ireland with assorted documentation ...

Here is a list of Iranian Embassies and Consulates worldwide worth lobbying ASAP:

Iranian Embassy in Ottawa, Canada

Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Ottawa, Canada
245 Metcalfe St.
Ottawa, Ontario
K2P 2K2 Canada
City: Ottawa
Phone: (613) 235-4726
Web Site:
Office Hours: Monday to Friday 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Iranian Embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Embassy of Iran in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
P.O.Box : 70488
Addis Ababa
City: Addis Ababa
Phone: 200794 - 712012
Web Site:

Iranian Embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia

Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Jakarta, Indonesia
Jl. HOS Cokroaminoto 110, Menteng,
Jakarta 10310
City: Jakarta
Phone: +62-21-331378 or 33139162-21-3107860
Fax: +62-21-3107860
Web Site:

Iranian Embassy in Dublin, Ireland

Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran
72 Mount Merrion Ave.
Blackrock Co.
City: Dublin
Phone: (003531) 2885881-2880252-2882967
Fax: (003531) 2834246
Web Site:

Iranian Embassy in Oslo, Norway

Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Oslo, Norway
Drammens veien 88 E
0244 Oslo
City: Oslo
Phone: (+47) 23 27 29 60
Fax: (+47) 22 55 49 19
Office Hours: Visiting hours: Monday, Wedensday and Friday From 09:00 till 12:00 Visiting hours: Monday, Wedensday and Friday From 09:00 till 12:00

Iranian Embassy in London, United Kingdom

Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran in London, England (UK)
16 Prince's Gate,
London SW7 1PT
City: London
Phone: (44) 020-7225 3000
Fax: ( +44)2075894440
Web Site:
Office Hours: 9:00-13:00 Monday to Thursday and 9:00-12:30 Friday

Iranian Consulate in Washington DC, United States

Iranian Interests Section
2209 Wisconsin Avenue NW,
Washington DC 20007
City: Washington DC
Phone: (202) 965-4990
Office Hours: 7:30 am - 3:30 pm Monday through Friday except on Wednesdays and holidays.

[Waiting for a True Miracle, Mr Zizek, the impossible irruption of the Real? Here's your - death-driven - chance ...] ...


[1] A group of Tehran University students have launched a blog for Jehanbegloo's release from detention (Persian), while another blogger has just established a Release Ramin Jahanbegloo (English) blog.

[2] Shahram Kholdi, a Manchester, UK based blogger, has written in detail about Jehanbegloo.

[3] Detail from first newspaper report confirming arrest:

[4] Detained scholar unharmed (Ottawa Citizen)

Iranian-Canadian told wife he's 'OK' and hopeful of release from Tehran prison

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Ramin Jahanbegloo, the Iranian-Canadian scholar being held prisoner in Tehran, has not been hospitalized or tortured and is hopeful he will soon be free, according to a friend and colleague.

"To the extent that I know ... he has been OK and he has anticipated that he will be released -- and this is hopeful on his behalf -- shortly," said Mohamad Tavakoli, a history professor at the University of Toronto.

Mr. Jahanbegloo called his wife Friday night and reported that he is safe and hasn't been physically harmed, Mr. Tavakoli said. He said he learned of Mr. Jahanbegloo's well-being from a close network of friends and family who are exchanging information.

There have been numerous media reports that Mr. Jahanbegloo had been hospitalized, stoking fears that he had been tortured within the Iranian prison. While Mr. Jahanbegloo did visit a clinic in captivity, it's because he has suffered from low blood sugar and not because he has been harmed, Mr. Tavakoli said.

"To the extent that we know is that he has visited a clinic in prison," he said.

The former University of Toronto professor has been held in prison without charges for almost two weeks. Mr. Jahanbegloo was in Iran working as the director of Tehran's Cultural Research Bureau, a non-governmental organization.

A noted scholar who has also taught at Harvard and studied at the Sorbonne in Paris, he was taken prisoner after writing an article in a Spanish newspaper criticizing Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for denying the Holocaust.

[Canadian] Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay has said the government is having difficulty making progress with Iranian officials to obtain Mr. Jahanbegloo's release.

His case is a reminder of the case of Zahra Kazemi, a Canadian-Iranian photojournalist who was tortured and killed in 2003 at the notorious Evin prison -- the same prison in which Mr. Jahanbegloo is being held.

=====>Source: Ottawa Citizen

[5] Amnesty International's Appeal For Urgent Action


Please send appeals to arrive as quickly as possible in Persian, Arabic, English or your own language. Use this sample letter, or create one of your own:

a. expressing concern for the safety of Ramin Jahanbegloo, who is detained incommunicado in Evin prison;
b. seeking assurances that he is not being tortured or ill-treated;
c. seeking full details of the reasons for his arrest, including any charges that may have been brought against him;
d. calling on the authorities to release him immediately and unconditionally if he is not to be charged with a recognizably criminal offence and given a prompt and fair trial.

Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic :
His Excellency Ayatollah Sayed ‘Ali Khamenei,
The Office of the Supreme Leader
Shoahada Street, Qom, Islamic Republic of Iran

Head of the Judiciary :
His Excellency
Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi
Ministry of Justice,
Park-e Shahr,
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Email: via Judiciary website: Salutation: Your Excellency

His Excellency Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
The Presidency,
Palestine Avenue,
Azerbaijan Intersection,
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Fax: Via Foreign Ministry: +98 21 6 674 790 (mark: "Please forward to H.E. President Ahmadinejad")
via website:


Blogger Mazi said...

I am really sorry. i read it first in Hoder's weblog and I was still unsure since today that CBC (Canadian Broadcasting) announced it in the news. I am sure with alot of pressure from other Islamic Administration will release him.

my blog is very relavent to yours add a link if you want:


6:02 AM  
Blogger Robert said...

fantastic Padraig!

you are ON IT, as usual :)

5:35 AM  
Blogger sexy said...







8:24 AM  

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