Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Iranian bloggers jailed, tortured

Bloggers in Iran enjoyed a brief taste of freedom, but the Mullahs began cracking down last fall. Imprisonment, torture, death threats, coerced confessions have followed.

Whoa, it's just like in the good ol' days of the Shah. As Jim Rome might say, "If you ain't torturin', you ain't tryin'."

Reports the LA Times:

When they made their debut in Persian cyberspace in 2001, frustrated politicos hoped a new horizon had opened up. At last, repressed Iranians had found a space they could clutter up with words, ideas, flights of fancy. The Internet was ubiquitous, anonymous. And for a short and glorious time, it was free from the censure of the mullahs.

In their first year, nearly 3,000 Persian blogs sprang to life. In a nation where apathy has saturated the younger generation, there were hopes for a political awakening on the Internet.

Intimate and interactive, the Internet holds tremendous appeal here, delivering a slice of the world, a tangle of private and public utterances, into studies and living rooms. But as its political uses became clear and as reformists began to move their censored ideas into the freewheeling realms of cyberspace, the government soured on the Internet. The fight began quietly when filters appeared, blocking Web pages.

"They suddenly felt that we were using the Internet as an alternative to the papers they'd shut down," said Hossein Derakhshan, a 28-year-old Iranian pioneer who took the groundbreaking step of publishing online instructions in Persian to teach Iranians how to post Web logs. He moved to Toronto five years ago with his wife, a Canadian citizen. "Blogs are the only uncontrolled and totally free medium, so they have the potential to attract many people, even people who are apathetic."

The arrest of online journalists and bloggers began last fall. The writers say they were tortured and forced to publicly denounce their work. Even technicians who worked on Web pages have been imprisoned.

full LAT story

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