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Iran’s Online Censors: The Persian Impediment December 20, 2006

Posted by publicpolitics in Censorship.
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In 2003 Iran became the first country ever to imprison a blogger
for views expressed online. Since then, over 28 bloggers and online
journalists have been imprisoned on various charges


The Persian Impediment

Article 19 is an organization that takes its name from the section of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that supports free speech. Recently the organization has launched a campaign to draw attention to persecution of online journalists in the Islamic Republic of Iran. As you might recall, Tehran is a recently self-declared citadel of free speech, and recently hosted the world’s largest gathering of Holocaust Deniers.

Article 19 claims that of the 28 bloggers and online journalists imprisoned since 2003, 54% were imprisoned in 2004, 32% in 2005, and 11% in 2006. This appears to be a steady decline in the rate of detentions, but should not lead to the conclusion that Iran is slackening in its online censorship: rather the reverse is the case. The declining numbers of detained opponents indicates more vigorous filtering techniques and a successful campaign of intimidation, resulting in greater self-censorship among opponents of Ahmadinejad’s hardline policies.

Arrested bloggers are often held incommunicado and receive an average of 1- 3 months imprisonment, with generous allotments of solitary confinement. The imprisoned allege interrogations of up to 11 hours at a session, as well as torture. Offenses include “insulting the Supreme Guide” , writing “propaganda against the regime”, and posting photographs of demonstrations. A list of cases complete with the names of the detained and what is known about the conditions of detention is available through Article 19.

Tags: torture | online journalists | internet filtering | human rights | DETENTIONS | Censorship | bloggers | Politics | Articcle 19 | Ahmadinejad

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