Regime mocks World Press Day with more censorship and detentions – OpEd – Eurasia Review
May 3 has been designated by UNESCO as World Press Day.
Keeping track of what is going on in the world is one of the most important steps in a free and democratic society. In a free society, this is recognized as a citizen’s right and enshrined in most constitutions of many countries to ensure the maintenance of democracy.
The bodies which respond to this global demand and do so are the press and journalists, who sometimes try to bring out the truth by accepting the risk of the dangers which are thus posed to them and even by risking their lives. For this reason, most people around the world recognize and respect journalists. In some countries, journalists committed to the values of their profession are well known, popular and have great political power to influence society.
Advances in communications technology and the development of satellite broadcasting and the Internet have been a big step forward for the media. These advances have enabled journalists to operate independently and without fear of government censorship and to widely disseminate news and events to the peoples of the world.
But in countries with dictatorial regimes like Iran under Khamenei’s reign, the press is under government control and censorship. It only serves to propagate the regime’s repressive policies.
As a result, in these dictatorships, measures of democracy such as free elections have been deprived of their true values. Journalists have also become tools of the ruling power, who are forced to legitimize the goals and demands of dictatorship, fabricate unrealistic and distorted reports and information, and try to justify the oppression of society.
In this equation, any media or journalist who dares or decides to shed light on the truth, at a minimum, their information operations will be stopped, and staff or individual journalists will be fined, charged, imprisoned, tortured and even killed. This is true even for freelance journalists and bloggers working on the Internet. Journalists and bloggers in Iran face constant threats of arbitrary arrest and imprisonment.
The ruling clerics in Iran have proven that they have no value for press freedom and impartial journalism. In addition to filtering out many news sites, the government does not allow anyone to write or post anything against the government in cyberspace.
According to Reporters Without Borders, Iran remains one of the biggest prisons for journalists. In fact, in 2019, Iran was ranked 170th out of 180 countries for media freedom. The level of repression is more severe among female journalists, making Iran the world’s largest prison for female journalists. With ten female journalists currently in prison, Iran holds a record for cracking down on female journalists around the world.
It goes without saying that these arrests and imprisonments are not just ordinary detentions, but are in most cases accompanied by physical and mental torture to force the journalist to surrender and express remorse.
If a journalist decides to resist the pressure or their demands, he will most likely have the same fate as Ms. Zahra Kazemi, an Iranian-Canadian journalist who was arrested, tortured, raped and killed in Iran on July 11, 2003. The Iranian Cyber Police arrested Sattar Beheshti, a worker and an unprofessional blogger for criticizing the government on Facebook. He was arrested in early November 2012, tortured and finally killed a few days later.
As usual, no government authority or legal body has been charged in the above two cases and many more. On the other hand, despite all these repressive measures, reality indicates that the people and society have not bowed to the demands of the Iranian dictatorship and have not surrendered. On the one hand, the use of the global Internet has made it possible for many journalists to work outside Iran and to spread the news of the resistance to the people. On the other hand, by boycotting the regime’s press, radio and television and using all kinds of filter breakers and satellites, the people of the country have shown resilience in opposing the crackdown.
Access to other media in the world by the Iranian people via the Internet and the use of cyberspace has become one of the main concerns of the mullahs. A concern that Khamenei must have raised in one of his recent speeches and warned. In his speech, Khamenei complained that the government has not fully imposed censorship on cyberspace as he is well aware that free information space is one of the most significant dangers for the continuation and the survival of his regime.
The experience of the uprisings of the past few years, in which people spread the news of the uprisings and the regime’s use of repressive forces across the world via the Internet. In addition, the Internet and cyberspace have become a means of coordinating gatherings and gatherings. The regime fears that cyberspace will become a platform for mobilization for much larger, widespread and well-organized rallies and social unrest in the future. If this becomes a reality, it could bring down the current regime.
In order to block the dissemination of information about protests, rallies and rallies, the regime has attempted to weaken the speed or quality of the internet and, in some cases, completely disconnect from the internet for days. In addition, the Iranian regime is trying to create an independent internal communication system with the help of China and intends to cut Iran off completely from the World Wide Web. This, of course, will not be possible easily because with the expansion of satellite Internet technology in the near future, people will no longer need an internal system to connect to the World Wide Web.