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Iran: Confidential Memo to Censor News

By Maysam Tavvab, Rooz Online

Through a circular send to the media, news agencies and news websites, the ninth administration in Iran had requested that news outlets not publish news related to the invitation that supporters of the country's Green Movement that opposes the administration have issued for a demonstration on November 4th. This is the day when in 1979 the American embassy in Tehran was taken over by hardline and extremist students and when the government calls out the public to hold anti US demonstrations. This year, young Iranians opposing the administration have suggested in their websites that instead of the traditional demonstrations, demonstrations should be held against the current administration in Tehran.

Censorship Order to the Media

On Monday, an informed source sent Rooz a copy of the government's most recent circular to the media exposing the administration's ban on reporting any news regarding the public call to participate in the November 4th demonstrations. The ministry of culture deputy for press and propaganda sent a letter stamped as "top secret" and "urgent" to media managers which stresses, "In view of the possibility that groups opposing the regime may try to distract public opinion from its struggle against world imperialism on the eve of November 4th the anniversary of the occupation of the American embassy and also that some domestic political forces may try to take advantage and disrupt the peace of society in continuation of the post presidential elections problems, it is requested that serious efforts be made to refrain from publishing any news, photos or stories that may create tension in society and disrupt public order."

The government directive is signed by Alireza Melkian, the press and propaganda deputy of the ministry of guidance signed on October 22, 2009. (The image of the letter appears at the end of this article.)

Mehdi Karoubi's Utube Message

Individuals closely following post-election events in Iran have interpreted this "top secret" directive to confirm the administration's concern regarding the participation of reformists in public events. In the most vocal response to this directive, the secretary general of the Etemad Melli party (National Trust) Mehdi Karoubi called on the public in a Utube message to participate in public events and gatherings adding, "We are determined to continue participation in public events and the only response that I have to the physical attacks on me is that if in the past I did not announce my participation in events, from now on we will announce where and in which events we will participate."

Karoubi's mention of physical attack on him is a reference to the events of last Friday when he went to the press expo in Tehran and was physically attacked by plainclothes agents, as were his supporters. In his address on Monday, Karoubi said, "We shall never flee from the field and will stay strong without fear for anything."

Revolutionary Guards Threaten Demonstrators

In a separate response to the possibility of public protests on November 4th, a commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Pasdaran Guards (IRGC) from Tehran called on all the Basiji para-military and the security forces to be prepared to confront "enemy ploys on November 4th." General Ali Fazli said, "Schemers have announced that they shall engage in mischief on November 4th, so we must be alert and remain watchful."

The governor of Tehran too announced Monday that no permit had been issued for any march on November 4th. Prior to this, Ahmadi Moghadam, the commander of the law enforcement forces had said in this regard, "Permits are required to hold any demonstrations on November 4th, and obviously any legal gathering will have the security umbrella over it which will support any legal action." At the same time, he had warned that the police would prevent any unlawful act and confront violators.

Observers point out that in the three decades since demonstrations have been held in Tehran and other large cities of Iran every year on the occasion of the embassy takeover on November 4th, this is the first time that authorities are requesting permits for public participation to commemorate it.

... Payvand News - 10/29/09 ... --

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