Emadeddin Baghi

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Emadeddin Baghi "is an Iranian journalist, contemporary historian and prolific author who has continually risked his life during the past twenty years campaigning for human rights and a secular state in Iran.

"Baghi has used his talent as a writer to expose the involvement of the Iranian government in the assassination of Iranian intellectuals and anti-government activists. He has written 20 books, six of which are banned in Iran, as well as many bylined articles in the independent reformist press exposing violations of free expression. He also founded, Defending the Prisoners' Rights Committee, an organization to help defend intellectuals imprisoned for espousing pro-democracy ideas and opinions.

"A former revolutionary and seminary student, Baghi came to reject the rule of the theocracy in the l980's and to ally himself with a movement by younger intellectuals and political scientists seeking reform. While recognizing the importance of religion, he became a strong advocate for a secular state in Iran. While he was Chief Editor of Fath newspaper he wrote articles on a democratic reading of religion, and in his first book, A Study About the Clerics, he argued strongly in favor of an Islam open to individual understanding rather than clerical interpretation. Not surprising, the book was immediately banned upon publication. Another one of his books, Realities and Judgments, details the violent treatment of the opposition by ruling clerics. Copies of this book, published illegally and anonymously in 1991, were hunted down and destroyed by the government.

"At great personal risk, Baghi became the voice for many political dissadents in Iran. He argued on behalf of Ayatollah Montazeri, a former colleague of Ayatollah Kohmeini who began to question the execution of many of Kohmeini's political opponents in the early l980's, and continued his crusade against the government by writing in the reformist press throughout the 1980's and l990's. In 1999, he and Akbar Ganji, another reformist journalist, wrote about the murders of 80 secular writers, intellectuals and political activists which took place throughout the l990's, accusing the government of overt involvement. These articles galvanized the public and, within one year of their publication, forced the closing by the government of nearly every reform newspaper in the country.

"Baghi was arrested, put on trial and imprisoned in solitary confinement for apostasy and endangering the security of the Islamic state in 2000. Although he was released in the Spring of 2003, he has been repeatedly summoned to appear in court and recently received a one year suspended sentence by the sixth revolutionary court of Tehran without making its reasons known. Reporters Without Borders, an international organization that defends imprisoned journalists throughout the world, called this most recent action an attempt to silence Baghi...

"Mr. Baghi was born in 1962 in the holy city of Karbala in Iraq. Mr. Baghi lives in Tehran and is married to Fatemeh Kamali. They have three daughters, Monireh, Mina and Maryam.

"Mr. Baghi was detained by Iranian authorities at the Tehran airport as he attempted to travel to New York to receive the 2004 Civil Courage Prize. His passport was confiscated and he was not permitted to leave the country. This action appears to be a demonstration of an emerging pattern of harassment of independent human rights defenders in Iran. Mr. Baghi was represented at the award ceremony by Heibatollah Baghi, Mr. Baghi's Uncle and a Professor at George Mason University." [1]

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  1. 2004 Civil Courage Prize Honorees, Civil Courage Prize, accessed October 3, 2007.