MESA Academic Freedom Award
Iranian Writer, Akbar Ganji
MESA salutes the Iranian writer Akbar Ganji, a major figure in promoting intellectual and political debate in the Islamic Republic over much of the past ten years and a man who has paid an enormous price for his efforts by spending the last five of those years in some of the country’s most notorious prisons and cell blocks. Although Akbar Ganji is not affiliated with an academic institution, his resistance to repression of intellectual freedom in Iran has been crucial to sustaining intellectual debate there.
Akbar Ganji is the author of Dungeon of Ghosts and A Republican Manifesto, among other works. He is currently serving a six-year prison sentence handed down in 2001 for "acting against national security" and "spreading propaganda," among other charges stemming from his writings critical of the government. The Iranian authorities have held him in solitary confinement almost continuously since September 3 in a special ward of Tehran's Evin prison. Even today, from prison, his letters and manifestos inspire people in Iran and around the world who struggle for a future free of arbitrary power. Please join the CAF tonight in recognizing Akbar Ganji, a public intellectual and writer of uncommon courage, and recipient of a 2005 MESA Academic Freedom Award.