Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Statement of the Association of Iranian Blogwriters to the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), November 16-18, Tunisia

Ladies and Gentlemen,

You are probably aware of the severe restrictions on the freedom of speech and expression of opinions, as well as prevention of the free flow of information and news in Iran. As a result of this grim situation, the Internet has become the most important source of information exchange and blogwriting has become the main outlet for self-expression in Iran.

We, the members of the Association of Iranian Blogwriters (Penlog), have started a serious movement towards securing the freedom of speech and free flow of information on the Internet. Our goal is to protect freedom of thought, speech and publishing in all aspects of personal and social life, without any exception. In this aspect, we defend the freedom of speech in the Internet and in particular the “blogs”.

We are writing this statement to inform you of the largest campaign of persecution, arrest, censorship and filtering of the Internet in the world, which is carried on in Iran right now.

Many bloggers, who only published their thoughts in their personal web pages, have been summoned by the Iranian judiciary system, arrested, tortured and are imprisoned at the moment.

Some of the usual methods of the Iranian government to confront the Iranian bloggers include: life threats, summoning for interrogation, flogging and pressuring the imprisoned bloggers to attend televised interviews to express regret or confess to spying for foreign countries, or moral corruption. In some cases the arrested bloggers are charged with “insulting the government officials” or “abandoning Islam” that can lead to harsh punishments and even execution. For example Mojtaba Samii Nejad has been imprisoned for the last two years and has been charged with “insulting prophet Muhammad” and “insulting the Islamic Republic Officials”, as well as “moral corruption”. Four Blogwriters from Qom city were forced under torture to attend T.V. interviews and confess to spying for foreign countries. Ahmad Saraji, another Iranian blogger is now in Tabriz prison on charges of “propaganda against the government”. Saraji received thirty flogs last month as part of his punishment. Mohammad Reza Nasab Abdullahi and his pregnant wife (now released) were among those arrested for blogwriting.

In addition to persecution of the blogwriters, censorship of the blogs and the Internet that was previously carried out randomly has now been contracted for systematic filtering to the “Delta Global” company. Many news websites and personal sites have been censored in Iran as a result.

Iran is now the largest prison for reporters and blogwriters as a result of the repressive policies of the Iranian government. Unfortunately the freedom of speech and human rights in Iran has been overlooked in favor of economic trades and we insist on ending this vicious cycle. We urge the international community to condemn the severe abuse of human rights and freedom of speech in Iran and demand the following from the Iranian government prior to any agreement:

-To end the wave of censorship and filtering of the internet sites and the blogs.
-Observe the items of Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which establishes the freedom of speech as a basic human right.
-Uncondictional release of all imprisoned bloggers and cease imprisonment and torturing bloggers.

At the end, we would like to quote the Honorable Mr. Kufi Anan:

“Defending freedom of the Internet is defending the freedom itself.”

Thank you.

Association of the Iranian Blogwriters (Penlog)

November 14, 2005


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