Iran Internet’s #1 enemy?-Azad Tribune

March 25, 2012

Is there anybody out there?

Amir Bayani

Azad Tribune: March 15, 2012


In what is going to be my last blog of the Iranian year (aka Solar calendar), I am going to discuss the usual suspects – internet censorship, ridiculous arrests and sentences, a little bit of art and international intervention. Happy Norooz!


Prior to the international women’s day, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei issued a decree calling for the establishment of what he termed as the Supreme Council of Cyberspace, an entity that would be headed by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and include other top Iranian officials, including the intelligence chief and the head of the Revolutionary Guards. You may think this is the supreme leader just getting carried away by the holiday vibe, but in fact he is taking serious steps to improve Iran’s position in the ‘Enemies of the Internet’ chart. Wouldn’t you be offended if you were the supreme leader and 9 other countries shared the spot with you? It’s like 10 athletes getting gold medals for running in the same category in the Olympics.


It’s either that the prison cells in Iran are expandable or that some inmates go on hunger strike and are eventually taken to medical wards, so they have to be replaced quickly, but whatever the reason is, the rate of new prison sentences in the recent months has risen again. It is very probable that as per usual practice prior to March 8th, the crackdown on journalists and media freedom defenders intensified. Human rights activists were given long prison sentences in the past few days. Human rights lawyer Abdolfattah Soltani was sentenced to 18 years in prison and a 20-year ban on working as a lawyer. Narges Mohammadi, a woman journalist who acted as spokesperson of the Centre for Human Rights Defenders was upheld a six-year jail sentence on appeal. Nazanin Khosravani was summoned before the court and taken to the notorious Evin prison to begin serving the six-year sentence she already received from Iran’s judicial system. Mehdi Khazali, who went on strike in protest against his arrest is spending his four year jail sentence in prison and is suffering from poor physical condition. Koohyar Goudarzi was sentenced to 5 years in which he must serve at Zabol prison. Jailed Iranian activist, Bahareh Hedayat won Edelstam prize 2012 for playing a leading role in the student’s movement as in the women’s rights movement in Iran.


And speaking of winning awards, Asghar Farhadi who got the first Oscar in the history of Iranian cinema was greeted by the public upon his return to Iran. However, Iranian authorities cancelled a ceremony on Monday in honour of the country’s Oscar-winning director even though the government had hailed his win as a triumph over a competitor from Israel. The Centre for Directors of Iranian Cinema and the High Council of Producers of Iranian Cinema issued a statement decrying the cancellation of the ceremony by expressing their deepest regrets. Mr. Farhadi has called for the reinstatement of Iran’s House of Cinema. But I think he must remember that only because the world of cinema has acknowledged his work does not automatically give him the right to make such outrageous requests.


Dr. Ahmad Shaheed, the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Iran released his latest report on Iran last week. The report received different reactions from different delegations and NGOs. Dr. Shaheed has tried to cover a vast majority of violations but 10,000 words seem like the tip of the iceberg. Article 19 does hope that his mission and mandate gets extended so that he can cover more areas and cases





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