Monday, November 22, 2010

Internet Censorship Around the World Part 5 Iran...

In Part 5 of this series we will deal with the nation of Iran.

Before anything can be said about Internet censorship in Iran, an understanding of the political events that led to the present day Iran, needs to be understood.  This video is an excellent introduction about the history of Iran, few Americans know.  Showing this video here, is NOT an endorsement of Ron Paul.

Here is another video done by an Iranian, We could not embed it.

Iran has been made famous by the west for its lack of liberties afforded to its citizens.  Iran, in the beginning of the 21st century, had tremendous growth in internet usage.  It currently, has the the highest percentage of its population online in the Middle East, after Israel.  In the beginning of this epoch, Iranians used the Internet to get around the strict laws regarding the Press.  But, with the election of President Khatami, this began to change.  With the election of President Ahmadinejad, things got even worse.

Isa Saharkhiz
In 2006, Iran began to block major websites, such as Amazon, YouTube, Wikipedia,, wikileaks, the New York Times, and online film databases.  The technology to allowing the Iranian government to block these sites, was supplied by Nokia-Siemens.  In fact, in 2009, following the presidential elections, Isa Saharkhiz, an Iranian dissident and journalist, went into hiding for questioning the validity of the election results.  Iranian security officials, tracked him down with the help of cellphone-monitoring devices and other eavesdropping technology provided by Nokia-Siemens.  Because of this arrest, a blogger like Saharkhiz was severely tortured since his arrest, held in solitary confinement for more than 80 days.  He therefore, sued Nokia-Siemens, in a federal court in Virginia for damages.  According to the lawsuit, another 1,500 political prisoners can be linked to activity on the Internet and may join this legal action against Nokia-Siemens.  The European Parliament made similar accusations in February of 2009. PBS has a fine biography of Saharkhiz, detailing his amazing work in progressive journalism in Iran.  

The next two videos were done by AlJazeera in English concerning Iran's blocking of Internet sites.

Iran is a nation of bloggers. Watch this!

Hossein Derakhshan
This blogger was arrested in November of 2008.  He has dual Canadian Iranian citizenship.  He has been called the father of Persian blogging by many journalists.  He was accused by the Iranian government of "cooperating with hostile states,""propaganda against the system," "insults to the holy sanctities and management of vulgar and obscene websites."  He was the first blogger to design a blog that could use Farsi, the official language of Iran.  He has been sentenced in September of 2010 to 191/2 years in prison. It is highly unlikely, that he was an instrument of the United States, since in his blogs, he argued in favor of Iran obtaining an atomic weapon.  He was also critical of United States policy towards Iran.  Derakhshan is not the only blogger that has been imprisoned.  There are hundred of others.

If you wish to see him presenting the history of blogging in Iran, you can see him here.  There is a Facebook page for him and an online petition you can sign here.  Watch this video on the current situation for bloggers in Iran.  We could not embed it:

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