Maziar Bahari’s response to Iranian sentence in absentia

On Sunday [9 May] Newsweek journalist Maziar Bahari was sentenced by Iran in absentia, to 13 years and 6 months in jail and 74 lashes. Over on, Bahari writes a powerful response, in a piece outlining the charges against him. He ends:

I can write these lines with my tongue firmly in my cheek from the safety of my house in London, of course, but more than 30 journalists, writers, and bloggers are still languishing in Iran’s prisons. Dozens of others are either out on bail or furlough and can be put in prison anytime the Revolutionary Guards desire. Hundreds of other Iranians are in jail for charges that are even more absurd than mine. Five activists were executed on May 8, and 25 others are on death row.

Since the disputed election last June, the regime has somehow managed to contain the public outcry against its injustices by passing preposterous sentences and saturating Iranian cities with the police and Revolutionary Guards. A wave of judgments like the one against me, coming on the eve of the first anniversary of the election, appears aimed at discouraging people from taking part in new mass demonstrations aimed condemning the reelection of Ahmadinejad and the repression that followed.

Whether the regime successfully preempts the demonstrations this time we will have to wait and see, but it cannot play this game forever. Its fantasy of justice, like its fantasy of democracy, and its fantasy of economic development is a farce. Iranians are too smart, and too hungry, for that. One way or another the future will belong to those who want to build their future in the real world.

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