The death of Sattar Behesti – an anti regime blogger – rightly caused outrage across the globe; outrage which was reflected in most of the reportage on the matter. The response and reaction from the both the conventional media and the blogosphere must indeed be commended.
At the same time, the US government was displaying its concrete solidarity with those who fight and indeed die for their freedom of speech, freedom of expression and indeed freedom of press. The US government announced further sanctions against Iran. You wouldn’t know this, though, if you only read the conventional newspapers.
Government entities, including senior officials were targeted; in particular those
“who are responsible for serious human rights abuses in Iran, particularly those related to disrupting the Iranian people’s freedom to assemble, freedom to access information and freedom to speak.”
The latest American action coincide with amendments to the Iranian Financial Sanctions Regulations, 31 CFR Part 561, which further strengthen financial sanctions against the Iranian government and fulfill a number of requirements set forth in the Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act of 2012 (TRA), which was signed into law by the President on August 10, 2012…
Perhaps the most interesting individual sanctioned is Reza Taghipour is the Minister of Communications and Information Technology and one of the leading Iranian officials in charge of censorship, control of internet activities, and control
of other types of communications. Reza Taghipour has been responsible for the blocking of mobile lines and text messaging, jamming of satellite television channels, and local suspension of internet connectivity in the wake of the June 2009 elections.
IT World ,hardly your New York Times or Wall Street Journal, picked up on the story adding that:
Taghipour is blamed by the U.S. for ordering the jamming of satellite television broadcasts and restricting Internet connectivity, according to a statement from the U.S. Department of State.
Iran has for some time considered separating its own internal networks from the global Internet describing it as unsafe. Earlier this year, the Iranian Students’ News Agency quoted Taghipouras saying that the Internet is an “unsafe network,” and that Iran would use local software to create a national grid.
Taghipour’s designation is a particularly clear indication of the developing modern telecommunications war with Iran, recently reflected in the widely reported decision by the French satellite provider Eutelsat (see previous blog) to block the reception of some 20 Iranian propaganda channels in the EU. That decision sent the Iranian broadcasting authority in a hysterical tailspin – with Press TV at the forefront – from which it is yet to recover.
Others sanctioned by the U.S. are Iran’s Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance and its Press Supervisory Board, which are said by the U.S. to have limited freedom of expression through their censorship and closure of newspapers and the detention of journalists.
The Treasury decision joins increasingly successful attempts to shut down Iran’s propaganda arms while at the same time battling Iranian censorship efforts. These are certainly being felt by their intended targets:
Meanwhile, another important step taken by Canada hovered unnoticed, beneath the radar. Canada has taken a leading role in the sanctions campaign, most notably expelling Iranian diplomats from Ottawa (see my previous post). Last week, Canadian satellite operator Telesat followed Eutelsat, and decided to end its broadcasting of all Iranian regime programming.
It is all well and good to report on individual tragic cases of bloggers who died during Iranian custody. However, there is absolutely no freedom of expression in Iran. No freedom on the internet. No freedom for bloggers. No freedom for journalists. It is the aforementioned actions – actions that were missed by the world’s media – that send the strongest of messages to the Iranian regime.
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