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May 03, 2006

Call to Non-sensationalist Campaign for Jahanbegloo's Release
Guest Author: Shahram Kholdi

Ramin-Jahanbegloo.jpg It is at least twelve years that I have known Ramin Jahanbegloo as a friend and a mentor. Dr. Ramin Jahanbegloo was arrested at the airport by the Iranian intelligence agents and was taken to Evin Prison about a week ago.

On May 1, Monday morning, an email alerted me to his arrest. I called another friend and mentor in Iran, who confirmed that "Ramin has been missing for quite a few days." I acted upon verifying the reason of his arrest and his whereabouts by contacting friends and colleagues through two major venues that I had access to, and indeed the outpour of support and brain-storming as to what has to be done started immediately.

During the mid-1990s Dr. Ramin Jahanbegloo conducted enormous philosophical activities in the Centre for Research of Philosophy and organized many seminars in the Farzan-rooz Publishers. He inspired most of the young university students in the era that became precursory to Khatami’s election as president to exercise public debate about fundamental philosophical issues in the realm of public: how can we engage in political debate in a rational way? Is non-violent political debate viable? Is there a public space for such a debate? Can we conduct political debate in such a manner in a society where public space for such exercises is either non-existent or is in its infancy? Where should we start? How should we start?

As he received his doctoral degree on Gandhi and non-violence in philosophy from the Sorbone University of Paris, Dr. Jahanbegloo immigrated to Canada. He became an adjunct professor at the University of Toronto’s Political Science Department. From 1997 onwards, for three years, he was moving back and forth between the Iranian student community at the University of Toronto, teaching political philosophy at the University of Toronto, and conducting lectures and talks in Iran. In Toronto, Dr. Jahanbegloo became a prominent community builder where he created Agora, a venue for public debate of issues that concerned Iranians, which inspired others to create the Iranian Association at the University of Toronto. By the spring of 2001, he was a major organizing force in holding the Centre for Iranian Research and Analysis Conference at the University of Toronto, where about 200 Iranian studies scholars from around the world gathered and participated in over thirty-five workshops. He gave the Iranians in Toronto a new sense of community whose fruits have now come to be born in one of the most vibrant Iranian Diaspora centres in North America that is pluralist, proud, and participatory.

During the last two years of Khatami’s presidency, Dr. Jahanbegloo returned to Iran and resumed his intellectual and research work. He did not lose touch with the Iranians in Toronto, however. In fact, he inspired all of us by his insistence on promoting academic and scholarly research in humanities and social sciences. Perhaps, such an aspiration to a methodology in the study of political science and history in Iran is rather problematic for those who often lose sight of the necessity for rational debate. He continued to provide young Iranian students by offering them different horizons for further deliberation. For instance, he invited the then Harvard Scholar and renowned Canadian political philosopher, Michael Ignatief to Iran in the summer of 2005 (around the time of the Presidential Election).

Dr. Ramin Jahanbegloo's arrest has been the most confusing development of the past five days for me, as a researcher and tutor of Persian studies. As Ramin himself used to say "you realize that you are learning something when you are caught off-guard by the most unexpected in your area of study." I wish his arrest would never cause me to open a new chapter in my study of post-revolutionary Iran, but indeed it has now become something more than that: a cause.

Now, through this post, I inform the readers of Free Thoughts on Iran that Dr. Jahanbegloo's arrest is a cause of concern and his release should become the goal of all who are concerned with the promotion of civil society, open public space for free political debate, and last but not least a space safe enough to conduct such debates in a non-violent manner. Dr. Jahanbegloo has taught, lived, and acted in a non-violent manner, and those who would like to rally for his release should remember one fact: He did all this without Media-Mongering and without recourse to Sensationalism.

Here, I join all those who are already active to do something to secure the immediate release of Dr. Jahanbegloo, and invite those who have not joined the rest of us yet, to join us. Also, I would like to ask all those who are willing to join the cause and care for Dr. Jahanbegloo not just as a scholar, intellectual, teacher, and a friend, but as a person who deserves due process, just representation, and freedom from arbitrary confinement, to join the cause in a non-sensationalist manner.

In this post, I tried to outline briefly the contributions of Dr. Jahanbegloo as a Canadian and as an Iranian to the respective Iranian community of Toronto, and his own compatriots back home.

We still do not know exactly why he was arrested. Hence, please do not spread false speculations and do not speculate about the charges until they have been officially announced by the respective judicial and intelligence authorities, or any other authority of the Iranian government. We certainly should wish to ensure that those who have Dr. Jahanbegloo in custody are not given any pretext more than what they have already chosen to have.

If you have any suggestions and proposals for the possible course(s) of action, that must be taken, please use this forum to debate and promote them.

Shahram Kholdi is a graduate teaching fellow and PhD candidate in Middle Eastern studies of the School of Languages, Linguistics and Cultures at the University of Manchester, UK. He received his MA in political science from the University of Toronto, Canada in 2004. He keeps a regularly updated weblog, S'Can Iranic.
Omid Paydar at May 4, 2006 11:58 AM [permalink]:

Good post Shahram. If you didn't post it I would have.

In terms of action, I have already contacted Amnesty International on this issue and will be following up with them on this. I believe international pressure is important at least in the treatment of prisoners, if not in their release.

What is reprehensible with regards to the current Iranian judicial process is that charges are announced after interrogations and arrest and not before. This means that nearly anyone that the regime doesn't like can be convicted on a menu that is generated during forceful interviews.

What I also see on the horizon is the intentional expansion of red lines to incorporate anyone who expresses any ideas regardless of whether those ideas are non-violent or do not have political action dimension. This seems to aim at stifling any kind of dialogue in the Iranian society.

An Iranian Student (AIS) at May 4, 2006 05:27 PM [permalink]:

thanks Shahram for the article.
I think a very importnat thing that should be done is to contact all the famous international figures he knew, interviewed or invited, like philosophers, scientists etc., should be contacted to take a firm public stance.
It could be effective.

Lady Sun at May 5, 2006 12:11 AM [permalink]:

A petition signed by prominent public figures can have a good effect I think. If somebody provides a letter signed by such people, then we can put the letter and its signatures on a website such as petition online so that everybody else could sign as well. If international figures sign the letter, the media will cover the news about the petition and that might put some pressure on Iran’s government. I can help with collecting signatures if somebody writes the petition.

p.s. As "An Iranian Student (AIS)" has suggested, maybe we can ask people whom Jahanbegloo has interviewed to sign the letter.

Shahram Kholdi at May 5, 2006 11:59 AM [permalink]:

For Immediate Distribution:

Ramin's Close Friend and Family Blog:

Iranian Studies Resource webpage on Ramin:

Tehran University Studentds weblog on Ramin:

Leah at May 5, 2006 01:24 PM [permalink]:

I'm an American, and part of a group blog; let us know what Americans can do to express our feelings about this injustice and our concerns for Dr. Jahanbegloo, if you think hearing from Americans won't be seen as negative pressure.

So you'll understand where most of the Americans I know stand, we are against the use of military force by our country against Iran, under any circumstance, but we are aware of and deplore the many depredations of human rights that occur in Iran, and we are supportive of home-grown efforts of Iranians themselves to democratize and/or secularize (or at least reduce the power of the religious clerics) their country.

We also support the rights of the Palestinian people to statehood, even as we support the right of Israel to exist. We are working to get our own country to be more even-handed and pro-active in finding the way back to a peace process between Israelis and Pesltinians, (something that will not happen while George Bush is our President, I'm sorry to say).

Human Rights Watch already has a short release about Dr. Jahanbegloo's arrest which you can find at

Perhaps if we sent letters to Iran's Permanent Mission at the UN, so the authorties who arrested Dr. Jahanbegloo will know that the whole world is indeed watching.

Please feel free to use my email address to contact me and let us know what we can do to help.

Please know that there are Americans who are working hard to make sure that our country does no further harm, creates no further chaos in the Middle East, even while we feel outrage at the lack of human rights through-out the region, and yet understand that the failure to provide a just resolution to the rightful demands of the Palestinian people makes it even easier for authoritarian regimes to hold onto their power.

The last thing on earth most Americans want is to plunge our country or anyone else's country into a "clash of civilizations," or a war with Islam.

Thanks for this moving post.

Shahram Kholdi at May 5, 2006 03:42 PM [permalink]:

Dear Leah,

Thank you very much for your most inspiring contribution.

Dear all,

Amnesty International has just released an Urgent Appeal for the Release of Dr. Ramin Jahanbegloo.

Shahram Kholdi at May 5, 2006 03:55 PM [permalink]:
Dear all, Please forgive me for mis-linking in the previous comment. The full appeal by the AI is as follows: Amnesty International has just released an Urgent Action Appeal for the Release of Ramin Jahanbegloo: PUBLIC                                                                                                                                                  AI Index: MDE 13/048/2006                                                                                                                                                                                                   05 May 2006 UA 123/06                incommunicado detention/ fear for safety/possible prisoner of conscience                    IRAN                          Ramin Jahanbegloo (m), academic, joint Canadian/Iranian national Academic 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. Despite Iran's continuing poor record on human rights, the heightened international tension over Iran's nuclear programme has led to a reduction in international attention to this issue. As a result, the scope for Iranian civil society activists is becoming increasingly restricted, and there are fears that other journalists and intellectuals could be at risk. The Canadian government is believed to be making representations on his behalf. However, Zahra Kazemi, another Canadian-Iranian national, died in custody in hospital in June 2003 allegedly as a result of torture after being detained in Evin Prison. To date, no one has been brought to justice in connection with her death. For more information see An independent inquiry must be opened into the death of Zahra Kazemi , AI Index MDE 13/022/2003, 15 July 2003 . It can be viewed at: ["Toooo long!" editors say, "Here: click to read the whole thing!"]
a Duoist at May 6, 2006 04:45 AM [permalink]:

The first of many American bloggers has just sent emails to President Bush in the White House, respectfully requesting that he mention Dr. Jahanbegloo's plight in any speeches or press conferences about Iran in the months ahead. The entire American blogosphere is going to be organized to request Mr. Bush's personal interest in Dr. Jahanbegloo's situation.

Once the American blogosphere is organized and their emails begin to flood the White House, the entire profession of philosophy (world-wide, 26,000 members), is going to be notified of Dr. Jahanbegloo's arrest, and they too will be asked to email their respective government, or the White House.

None of us--none of us!--can afford to sit by idle when the thugs attempt to extinguish the light from the world's best minds. They killed de Mello in Iraq; they are not going to get Jahanbegloo in Iran.

Ann Landrey at May 6, 2006 08:59 PM [permalink]:

Please, Shahram, help us find the AI Urgent Action Appeal. On an AI site. I've googled my brains out and, g*d help me, I can't find it. Please give us the link so we can circulate it to our groups. I live in Toronto.


Shahram Kholdi at May 6, 2006 09:31 PM [permalink]:

Dear Ann,

The UA Appeal of Amnesty was sent to me through email. Indeed, I wanted to link it and I mistakenly thought one of the links that appeared towards the end of the UA statement was the link to the appeal, but it was not! Hence, I reposted the whole thing here.

I contacted the friend who works with AI and had sent me the UA and his response is that it takes about two business days until and appeal is posted on AI's webpage (in my opinion, it is very unefficient, but I understand the problem, I used to on the UA email list until a couple of years ago and it is not an easy job).

Visit this link as frequently as possible and reload it every time that you visit it until you get the update. Hopefully, it will not be too late by then:

Melissa Williams at May 7, 2006 08:44 AM [permalink]:

The AI Urgent Action Appeal is at:

A group of us at the University of Toronto are writing letters. Please disseminate the AI Appeal as widely and quickly as possible.

Many thanks (and warm regards) to Shahram for his work on Ramin's behalf.

Melissa Williams, University of Toronto

Melissa Williams at May 7, 2006 08:45 AM [permalink]:

The AI Urgent Action Appeal is at:

A group of us at the University of Toronto are writing letters. Please disseminate the AI Appeal as widely and quickly as possible.

Many thanks (and warm regards) to Shahram for his work on Ramin's behalf.

Melissa Williams, University of Toronto

Genevieve Fuji Johnson at May 7, 2006 01:25 PM [permalink]:

Dear Shahram,

I will start spreading the word re the AI Urgent Action appeal among academics here in Montreal and in Vancouver/Victoria. I will encourage the writing of individual letters based on AI's sample letter.

Thank you Shahram and take good care.
Genevieve Fuji Johnson, Universite de Montreal

A Reader at May 7, 2006 04:08 PM [permalink]:

Thank you Shahram and Melissa,

The "e-lag" occurred to me and makes perfect sense but, having just emailed Iran, that sequentially perfect but unfindable AI Index # taunted me.

Ignatieff might be useful. He was on the CBC item on May 4th?, is running for the Liberal leadership, and has global academic reach. Not least, it was Jahanbegloo who invited Ignatieff to Iran.

I gather and share strength will all of you and hope to meet some of you in Toronto soon. Until then--thank you Shahram, What (non-sensational action) Would Jahanbegloo Do?

Ann Landrey, Toronto

Shahram Kholdi at May 7, 2006 04:52 PM [permalink]:

Dear Ann,

Thanks for your question! Ramin Jahanbegloo would follow the same format that has been instructed in the Urgent Appeal of the AI. The Amnesty International has clear cut rules about letter writing as the most important objective is to convey the message with no exaggeration of the situation of the victim as well as avoiding any remarks that would be tantamount to personal attack or insult on the respective authority to whom the letter is addressed.

On the philosophical aspects, and how they can be put to practice throughout history, of non-sensationalism, I strongly advise reading RaminJahanbegloo's work on non-violence.

Ann Landrey at May 7, 2006 05:16 PM [permalink]:


Gratitude to whoever's at work right now in Ottawa. The Appeal came up on AI Canada's homepage about 10 minutes ago.


Shahram, I overreached with the WWJD reference and made assumptions I shouldn't have. It's a reference to a phenomenon of certain Christian youth movements, namely ballcaps etc. with "WWJD", which means, What Would Jesus Do?, and I couldn't resist the parallel.

Ann Landrey, Toronto

Padraig at May 8, 2006 03:17 AM [permalink]:


Just to add that writing to Iranian Embassies and Consulates may also have some positive effect. I've been doing this from here in Ireland. My latest blog post includes the addresses:

Ron at May 9, 2006 09:00 PM [permalink]:

With all respect to the approach being suggested, I believe this is a most appropriate time to express Canada. This poor man brings to mind another unfortunate Canadian-Iranian, Zahra Kazemi. I remember the shameful way the Canadian government handled her case, and I pray they will actually have the courage to stand up for one of their own this time.

Craig at May 10, 2006 05:01 PM [permalink]:

Yes, I'm not sure what Canada can do but Canada MUST do something. He's a Canadian national, whether Iran recognizes that or not is irrelevant.

Ann Landrey at May 11, 2006 11:39 PM [permalink]: is now refusing connection and I have had no success in faxing the Head of the Judiciary (Shahroudi). Can anyone suggest a way of reaching Shahroudi?

The URL given
by AI( returned an "Error, page not found", but the main page was still up two days ago.

Ann Landrey, Toronto

Shahram Kholdi at May 12, 2006 12:33 AM [permalink]:

Dear Ann,

This is the fax number:

Fax: 0 11 98 21 879 6671

Howver, in almost all Tehran numbers the first digit of the number must be repeated. Hence you might need to dial 011 98 21 8 879 6671. Try the one above first, and if did not work follow my suggestion. What has happened is that in dialing most Tehran numbers (21 is the code of Tehran, so the number starts immediately after 21), one has to repeat the first digit, before making the call.

Hope this helps,

Let me know,


Shahram Kholdi at May 12, 2006 12:38 AM [permalink]:

Dear Ann,

Further to the prveious, please find all of the respective contact info below and follow the same intsruction re fax/phone numbers.



Appeals to:
Leader of the Islamic Republic
His Excellency Ayatollah Sayed ‘Ali Khamenei
The Presidency
Palestine Avenue
Azerbaijan Intersection
Islamic Republic of Iran
Fax: +98 21 649 5880/ 774 2228

Mr Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
The Presidency
Palestine Avenue
Azerbaijan Intersection
Islamic Republic of Iran
Fax: +98 21 649 5880

Head of the Judiciary
His Excellency Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi
Ministry of Justice,
Park-e Shahr,
Islamic Republic of Iran.
Fax: +98 21 879 6671
Email: (mark ‘Please forward to HE Ayatollah

Nicolas Jefferson-Lenskyj at May 28, 2006 06:03 AM [permalink]:

I've just heard of this, so perhaps this
idea has already been thought of... has
anyone approached John Fraser, Master of
Massey College (UofT) asking for his help?
He (and Massey) have a wide network of
very influential friends and supporters, ties to PEN,
to the Canadian press, etc.,
and a record of committment to human rights.

Nicolas Jefferson-Lenskyj
Brisbane, Australia
(Pol theory, UofT, 1998-2003)

Misneach at June 11, 2006 05:38 PM [permalink]:

Its upsetting to hear about restriction of freedom of speech and denial of basic human rights, no matter where it happens. Its a terrible sign when people who have a positive influence are silenced in one way or another.

If you come up with a group effort or somewhere we can send letters to or something like that, please let me know on my blog or put up a major post here (or both would be best). In this day and age of constant retaliatory attacks, "preventive" "just" war, torture, internment, destruction of the basic institutions of Human Rights and the Sanctity of Human Life, we need all the positive voices we can get. This man deserves to be able to have his voice heard.

Is that IRPR@IRANJUDICIARY address an appropriate one to send emails to?

immortal at January 10, 2007 11:06 PM [permalink]:
Dear Sir/Madam: Please read the petition and if you agree sign it and circulate it. Thank you/Sepas Stop Canada Harbor Terrorism and Human Rights Violation View Current Signatures - Sign the Petition -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- To: INTERPOL General Secretariat 200, quai Charles de Caulleand 69006 Lyon France and Office of the United NationsHigh Commissioner for Human Rights UNOG-OHCHR1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland Wednesday December 27th, 2006 International Criminal Police Organization {ICPO} INTERPOL General Secretariat 200, quai Charles de Caulle 69006 Lyon France Via: Register mail. And Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights UNOG-OHCHR 1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland Via: Register mail Dear Sir/Madam: RE: Formal Complain Against Canada for Harboring Terrorism & Pervasive Violation of Human Rights: There are significant amount of legal evidences that they are available in public domain and are published in a book with title of “Romanticism and Revivalism of Pure Divine Motherland of Iran” which will be publish in 2007 at with intention to educate readers that how one high profile Hezbollah figure RAFSANJANI is investing in Canada. Further, there is a formal request from the United Nations {U.N} to stop Canadian Government from harboring terrorism and stop Canada from violating Human Rights in Canada and in Iran. In addition, one petition will be draft on line in order to make sure that Canadian Government won’t be able to make any backroom deal with anyone and will be holding the Canadian Government responsible, as well as, accountable for their unjust acts. Exhibiting Evidence: “CIC2004001660 Citizenship and Immigration Canada Media 6/14/04 0:00 any documents, memos, reports, letters, emails, voicemail transcripts or other written or recorded material concerning direct foreign investment by companies and individuals of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Canada, including but not limited to Highway 407, the Centerpoint shopping Center in Toronto. Also any material on visits, official or unofficial, to Canada by member of the Iranian government, and/or family members of former Pres. Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsnajani (aka Rafsamjani), including son Mehdi Hashemi Rafsanjani (aka Rafsamjani), and daughter Faezeh Hashemi. Timeframe January 1, 2000-June 14, 2004”1. Laws to Protect Innocent Individual from Terrorism: According to Criminal Code of Canada Terrorism Interpretation 83.01 (1) Definitions…Canadian means a Canadian Citizen, a permanent residence within the meaning of subsection 2(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act or a body corporate incorporated and continued under the laws of Canada or a province…entity means a person, group, trust, partnership or fund or an unincorporated association or organization…terrorist activities means a) an act or omission that is committed in or outside Canada…”2. Financing of Terrorism 83.02 of Criminal Code [C.C.]“providing or collecting property for certain activities-Everyone who, directly or indirectly, willfully and without lawful justification or excuse, provides or collects property intending that it be used or knowingly that it will be used, in whole or in part, in order to carry out a) an act or omission that constitutes an offence referred to in subparagraphs a) (i) to (ix) of the defin ["Toooo long!" editors say, "Here: click to read the whole thing!"]