Wednesday, June 08, 2005

One Man's Gulag Is Another Man's Country Club


From Powerline:


The news lately has been full of frivolous references to "torture" and "Gulag" in connection with American treatment of captured terrorists. Few people, however, are showing much interest in the real thing. Michael Ledeen writes:

The cheerless creatures who rule the Islamic republic of Iran have developed a particularly wicked use of torture. Not only do they use the full panoply of physical and psychological horrors on their captives, but they then send the victims back into their homes and neighborhoods for brief periods of “parole” or “medical leave,” so that their friends and families can see with their own eyes the brutal effects of the torture.

The clear intent of this practice is to intimidate the population at large, to break the will of would-be dissenters and opponents, and to maximize the effects of the victims themselves, for the brief respite from the pain of the prisons is mercilessly accompanied by the certainty that the agony will soon resume.

One of the most prominent dissenters and a distinguished journalist, Akbar Ganji, was given a week-long “medical leave” from Evin Prison in Tehran, and on Monday he gave an Internet interview that may well prove fatal. He called for a general boycott of the “make believe elections” for the presidency, scheduled for the 17th of the month, and urged the Iranian people to engage in large-scale civil disobedience.

Following the interview the head of the Evin Prison announced that Akbar Ganji had to return at once.

You will not have read about this brave man in your daily newspaper, or seen his face on your evening news broadcast, nor will you have heard about him from the Department of State — which has a considerable bureaucracy devoted to the advancement of human rights — nor from the White House, nor from the self-promoting entrepreneurs of the likes of Human Rights Watch or the intellectuals and elected representatives who call for President Bush to “talk to” the mullahs in order to “resolve our disagreements.”

Nor from Amnesty International, too busy with its grandstanding fund-raising campaign against the United States to take much interest in real Gulags, real torture, or real political prisoners.