Iran cracks down on reformist web sites - BBC reports on Iran's bloggers in censorship protest
For the past few months, some judiciary officials in Iran have shown ultimate determination to shut down two reformist news websites, Emrooz and Rouydad.
First they officially ordered the Telecom company to filter them, then after a few months, since the websites hadn't stopped operating, they stormed their ISPs and arrested some technicians helping them.
Later, they arrested a few young journalists somehow related to the websites (among them two well-known bloggers, Babak and Shahram).
Last week they arrested the father of Sina Motallebi, well-known Iranian blogger who was himself arrested last year for three weeks which created a big splash both in the blogosphere and the mainstream press. After a few months, he fled to Netherlands where he started to write about his horrible situation in detention and described the ugly interrogation methods used by Iranian secret police and judiciary agents in great detail.
It's said that Saaed Mortazavi, the same judiciary officials who has allegedly been directly involved in the death of Canadian photographer, Zahra Kazemi, is leading all this crackdown. It was also him who first ordered to filter the two reformist websites last year.
Meanwhile, the results of a recent poll show that internet is the most trusted medium among Iranians.
- Hardline consrvatives are very concerned when it comes to foreign press. So please help us spread the word in the blogosphere -- by linking to the post or to other related resources -- and give the news maximum exposure.
Posted by hoder at September 14, 2004
It seems to me that the Mullahs are acting out of despiration. The more that Iranian people seek freedom of information through the internet, the more frightened the Mullahs become. They may be terrified that this freedom may lead to a revolution, as they know that they will probably be killed.
- By: David on September 17, 2004
A blog in French specialising on Iran and Middle East related issues and notably on Iranians' forage for democracy whose URL is as follows: http://vahid-agha.blogspot.com
- By: vahid_agha on September 17, 2004
Not very successfully last time I was there... but I'm sure they'll go to any lengths to retain power.
- By: Alex on September 16, 2004
If you want to find up to date information about Internet censorship in Iran, visit the website of the International Freedom of Expression Exchange: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/221/
- By: ifex on September 16, 2004
The story is much more horrible as it is described here. Hossein Derakhshan can not write the whole story because he has relatives, who still live in Iran and he does not want to endanger them.
- By: Farhang on September 15, 2004
I'm curious -- do many Iranians use pgp and similar applications?
- By: Faried Nawaz on September 15, 2004
It's really sad to see the lengths that the rulers of the Islamic Republic will go to in order to stop the flow of information. The questions remains though how successfully are they really in stopping such a extensive medium as the internet?
- By: Babak on September 15, 2004
[via Joi Ito]
- - -
STOP CENSORING US
Watching Internet censorship in Iran
Excerpt from Stop Censoring Us | Watching Internet Censorship in Iran that explains what the site is about:
Iranian government has started to filter popular websites and weblogs in Iran, while the Internet is effecively the only unrestricted interactive medium accessable to Iranians. The purpose of stop.censoring.us is to provide official and unofficial accounts on Internet censorship in Iran so that International observers and activists have a better picture about the situation of freedom of information in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Contact stop -at- censoring -dot- us
- - -
IRAN RESTRICTS REFORMIST WEBSITE
Emrooz challenges Iranian conservatives
Here is a copy of a 7 January 2004 BBC report on Iran's restricting of a reformist website:
Iran's judiciary has ordered one of two main pro-reformist websites to be "filtered", making it unavailable to internet subscribers in Iran.
The Emrooz website was set up by people close to Iran's reformist President, Mohammad Khatami.
Since a crackdown on reformist press, the internet has become the main forum for dissident voices in Iran.
But with elections approaching, it is feared the judiciary's move may signal a new wave of political repression.
Emrooz carries news and current affairs articles that are broadly sympathetic to the reformist agenda, and challenge the wide-ranging powers of Iran's spiritual leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Ayatollah Khamenei controls some of Iran's most powerful non-elected institutions, including the judiciary and the army.
The judiciary has closed down more than 90 newspapers in the past five years, and many of these responded by opening their own websites and continuing to publish online.
Individual writers also embraced new technology to write their own personal news diaries, known as weblogs or blogs.
Now it seems the judiciary may be turning its attention to these new websites.
The website was set up by supporters of President Khatami
Iranian internet service providers have always been prevented from permitting access to sites deemed pornographic or anti-Islamic by the authorities, most of which originate outside Iran.
But this is the first time the judiciary has banned an Iran-based domestic political website in this way.
Internet access in Iran is simple to arrange and affordable for most middle class families.
Some seven million Iranians have access to the internet - that is one in 10 of the population, and double the number two years ago.
In Iran's highly restricted media environment, the internet has until now been a way for writers and the reading public to get around the barriers of censorship.
Now it seems the Islamic authorities may be trying to bring new media under the same tight controls as the press.
- - -
IRAN'S BLOGGERS IN CENSORSHIP PROTEST
Here is a copy of a 22 September 2004 BBC report that says the reformist Emrooz website was blocked - but has now re-appeared:
Hundreds of Iranian online journals have been protesting against media censorship by renaming their websites after pro-reformist newspapers and websites that have been banned or shut down by the authorities.
Many of the websites, known as blogs or weblogs, have also posted news items from the banned publications on their websites.
The protest was started by blogger Hossein Derakhshan, a student at Toronto university in Canada.
He told the BBC that although he felt the action was symbolic, he wanted to show Iranian authorities "that they would not be able to censor the internet in the same way as they have managed to control other media".
He said he was delighted with the response.
The hardline Iranian press has published a personal attack on him, he said, "which is proof that the authorities must be worried by the bloggers' protest".
Earlier this month, three reformist websites - Emrooz, Rooydad and Baamdad - re-appeared in a stripped-down form after having been blocked by the authorities.
One of them moved the content of its site onto a blog as a means of getting around the block.
It is thought that the number of Iranians keeping blogs is now between 10,000 and 15,000.
However, some recent reports have now suggested that Iranian authorities are considering the creation of a national intranet - an internet service just for Iran - which would be separate from the world wide web.
This would potentially mean that users would not be able to access anything the authorities do not want them to see.
But Mr Derakhshan said he and his fellow bloggers are working on a strategy to get around the intranet, using email subscription services.
- - -
UPDATE Friday September 24:
IRANIAN TRUTH BLOG
Bloggers Unite Update
Iranian Truth has an update on the Iranian government's blocking of blogs out of Iran.
Also, Iranian Truth blog has a comprehensive list - in sidebar - of Iranian blogs news agencies publishing in English.