Meet the Iran Dissidents Fighting for Freedom

Americans, especially conservatives, should know the names of those risking all for freedom.

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By Mary Kate Cary, Thomas Jefferson Street blog

Once upon a time, most Americans knew the names of the Soviet dissidents standing up to the Politburo: Solzhenitsyn, Sakharov, Sharansky. A recent Wall Street Journal editorial called for Americans to get to know the names of Iranian dissidents, too, who are similarly risking their lives fighting oppression. Beyond Mir Hossein Mousavi, the opposition leader, and Neda Soltan, the woman who was martyred on the street, who else is there? The Journal listed a few, including:

Prominent human-rights activist Emad Baghi was among those taken [into custody by the government]. This year, Mr. Baghi received the Martin Ennals Award—the Nobel Prize for human rights—and was banned from traveling to receive it in person.

Dr. Nushin Ebadi, the sister of Nobel peace laureate Shirin Ebadi, was arrested in her home. So was women's-rights activist Haleh Sahabi.

I wrote about the silence on the right toward the Iranian opposition last week, but then heard from Michael Ledeen, a conservative who has been writing about the Iranian situation for many years. And while I should have linked to him last week, I stand by my original point: There needs to be more support from conservatives for the brave men and women standing up to tyranny in Tehran--more than just a few writers like Ledeen and Andrew Sullivan.

Ledeen is publicizing the names of Iranian dissidents too. Here are a few more from him:

Heshmatollah Tabarzadi: An engineer, who has already spent seven years in prison. He is secular, not a devout Muslim, but is widely respected on both sides of the religious/secular divide;

Mashaolah Shamsolwaezin: A journalist and human rights activist who founded several newspapers during Khatami's presidency;

Emadedien Baghi: A student of the late [reformist] Grand Ayatollah Montazeri. He was himself a spiritual figure, but he has abandoned the turban. He was arrested because of an interview on the BBC Farsi service with Montazeri.

Ahmad Qabel: A progressive theologian who nonetheless wants a secular state. He was also a Montazeri student.

I agree that we all need to get to know the names of men and women who are fighting a repressive regime on a daily basis. Of course, there is far more that we can do to support the people of Iran, but this would be a good start.