Amnesty International is greatly concerned at
the rising tide of censorship in
Most recently, popular sites such as Wikepedia, YouTube and Amazon.com have been blocked, permanently or temporarily, as part of a growing trend of restriction of sites which are deemed “immoral or against the principles of Islam”. In practice, many sites belonging to domestic and foreign news organizations, political organizations, and those carrying information about human rights have been blocked. For example, the Tehran-based Kurdish Human Rights Organization’s site, and the Meydaan site which carries information about women’s human rights, including a campaign launched recently aimed at abolishing execution by stoning in Iran, have both been blocked.
Human rights activists and others have also faced interrogation and charges related to their accessing of Internet sites abroad, or their sending or receiving information by e-mail. For example, Mehdi (Oxtay) Babaei Ajabshir, an Iranian Azerbaijani, was arrested in July 2006 prior to his planned attendance of an annual Iranian Azerbaijani cultural gathering, and sentenced in September to six months of imprisonment for “membership of illegal opposition groups aimed at harming national security”. The evidence against him included “sen[ding] several e-mails to the Gamoh website to protest, as he alleges, their action of preparing a new flag. In addition he visited other ethnic nationalist websites and forwarded some of their items to his friends”.
The Iranian authorities’ increasing attempts to control the use of the Internet have been reflected in official statements. For example, in May 2006, Reza Rashidi Mehrabadi, managing director of the government-owned Information Technology Company (ITC), announced that
In September 2006, according to the ITC, more than 10 million Internet sites were being filtered by the relevant authorities, including the judiciary, the committee for identifying unauthorized websites and the filtering system database, and that around “200 – 300 immoral and filter-busting websites per day” were being newly filtered.
In October, the organization in charge of setting out regulations governing radio telecommunications issued regulations which would restrict online speeds to 128 kilobits per second and which would ban Internet service providers from offering fast broadband packages, a technical measure which would severely restrict the ability of Iranians to download information from the Internet. This order was protested by members of the Majles (
This year, 2006, has also seen a continuing clampdown on other mass media. The authorities have continued to shut down newspapers, and their editors and journalists have been arrested or summoned to court on vague charges such as “propaganda against the system” or “insulting the leadership”. Others who have travelled abroad have been harassed on their return. In November, for example, a group of journalists who had attended a training seminar in the
International law guarantees the right to freedom of information and the free flow of ideas across borders.
In a December 2005 report the Special Rapporteur on the right to freedom of opinion and expression recommended that:
is calling on the Iranian authorities to release all prisoners of conscience,
including detained bloggers such as Arash Sigarchi and Kianoosh Sanjari,
immediately and unconditionally and to remove all restrictions on the operation
and usage of the Internet that violate the right to freedom of expression, and
to end practices such as censorship, monitoring and surveillance that do not
conform with its international obligations.
... Payvand News - 12/7/06 ... --