Just had this from my mate Curt and his worthy crew over at the Committee to Protect Bloggers and wanted to share it with you all. Because of this I’ve just done something I’ve never done before – emailed the president of Iran. Not what I thought I’d be doing this evening, as you can imagine. I reminded him that Islamic culture and learning was fostered through the centuries by the exchange of ideas and the stimulus of debate, so to deny freedom of person and expression is retrograde to the best of Islamic tradition. I don’t know if they will listen to what we say, but I do know this: if you don’t speak up they certainly won’t hear you.

There’s an old parable about the person who didn’t speak out when They came for the intellegentsia. When They came for the politically active the person did not speak out. When They came for the unionists the person remained silent. When They came for those whose skin was different still the person did not raise their voice. When they came for that person, there was no-one left to speak out for them. Well, I’ve got a voice and so have you – I would never tell someone how to use that voice, its up to their own morality, but I think many of you will wish to raise your voices and join the protest.

Perhaps we can change the authorities mind, perhaps not, but if they are aware that millions of informed people around the world know what is going on and are watching it then at the very least we make it very difficult for them to make Mojtaba and others simply ‘disappear’ – at the very least we can use our freedom of speech to keep them in the eye of the world’s public so they are not hidden away.

A word of warning – the online petition will accept Western input although much of it is in Arabic script and so runs right to left (very odd to western eyes!). Visit the CPB for full details and links and email addresses.

The CPB is asking bloggers and other concerned people to observe next Thursday, May 26 as a Media Fast for Mojtaba.

Mojtaba Saminejad, a blogger from Iran, has declared a hunger strike. He is being held at Tehran’s Gohar Dashat prison, which has a reputation for mistreatment of detainees. He is being held in the general population, the overwhelming majority of which are common criminals.

Mojtaba was arrested for reporting the earlier arrest of three of his fellow Iranian bloggers. (Iran has arrested over 20 bloggers over the last year.) Iranian bloggers who have been released have reported being the victims of torture.

Devote next Thursday to an expression of sympathy for an innocent who has been unjustly detained. Observe a fast on your blog for Mojtaba, linking to this page. Those among us who are healthy and so inclined might consider an actual day-long fast. When asked why, tell your family, friends, neighbors and coworkers about Mojtaba.

In the meantime, write to the following people, requesting Mojtaba be given a pardon and unconditional, immediate release and that, in the meantime, he be transferred to a less violent facility.

If you are in the United States, you can contact either the Representative at the Iranian Interest Section of the Pakistani Embassy or the Ambassador to Iran’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations. (Iran has no embassy in the United States.) Here is the contact information.

Dr. Mohammad Javad Zarif
Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran
622 Third Ave. New York, NY 10017Tel: (212) 687-2020 / Fax: (212) 867-7086
Email the ambassador

Iranian Representative
Embassy of Pakistan
Interests Section of the Islamic Republic of Iran
2209 Wisconsin Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20007
Email the Interests Section
Phone: (202) 965-4990Fax: (202) 965-1073

Outside the U.S., you can contact either the Permanent Representative to the United Nations or the Iranian ambassador in your own country. Here is the page on the Interest Section website that lists some of Iran’s embassies around the world.

Finally, contact directly the people responsible for Mojtaba’s detention.

Leader of the Islamic Republic His Excellency Ayatollah Sayed ‘Ali Khameni
The Presidency
Palestine Avenue, Azerbaijan Intersection
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran

President, His Excellency Hojjatoleslam Sayed Mohammad Khatami
The Presidency
Palestine Avenue, Azerbaijan Intersection
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Email the president

Head of Judiciary, His Excellency Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahrudi
Head of the Judiciary
Ministry of Justice
Park-e Shahr
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Tehran
Fax: +98 21 879 6671 or +98 21 640 4018/4019 (Please mark “care of Director of International Affairs)

You can also sign a petition here calling on the head of the judicial system, Ayatollah Sharoudi, to grant Mojtaba a pardon and unconditional release.