Tuesday, February 22

FREE MOJTABA AND ARASH !!!

As I have been reporting in previous posts, a harsh, government-led crackdown in Iran on Internet users, particularly bloggers and blogger-journalists, has been underway for some time now and has grown increasingly more intense in recent months. I have committed to make this among the short list of issues that I frequently post on, as government repression of freedom of expression in cyberspace is a serious issue and a patent violation of Article 19 of the United Nation's "Universal Declaration of Human Rights."

In this earlier post, I provided a link to what I termed a must-read article which lays out five key recommendations for online free expression in anticipation of the "World Summit on the Information Society" (WSIS). Read these recommendations and use them as a backdrop for what follows in this post, so you'll have a clear idea of what ought to be the reality in Internet use in all countries versus what it is, regrettably, in some, most notably Iran. The sad fact is that under the repressive constraints of tyrannical governments, bloggers and cyberjournalists do not enjoy the freedoms that we in America and other western democracies enjoy and take for granted. Indeed, this very post could land me in jail, and facing a long prison sentence, were I Iranian and publishing this in my homeland.

What first got my attention focused on this problem was the chilling tale of Farous Farzami (her pseudonym) -- an Iranian journalist jailed and interrogated for 36-days, released, and now awaiting trial if she hasn't already been returned to prison. But hers is in no way an isolated case, but rather illustrative of what's taking place in Iran and with alarming frequency.

Which brings me to bloggers Motjaba Saminejad and Arash Sigarchi and a commitment by many in the blogosphere to dedicate today -- February 22nd -- to a focus on their plights in order to bring pressure to bear on the Iranian government to cease and desist in the harrassment and jailing of these two men. The link I just provided, the "Committee To Protect Bloggers," will give you background information on these two Iranian bloggers, tell you about how they were jailed, and suggest ways in which you can participate in this concerted effort to free them and others like them in Iran.

As bloggers, is it not our obligation to go to bat for those being oppressed for doing the very thing many of us do each and every day -- write our opinions and publish them on the Internet, freely and without fear that we'll be whisked off to jail?