Monday, February 21, 2005

Free Arash and Mojtaba Day

UPDATE 02/22/2005 6:24 PM
Today, the Iranian mullahs have sentenced Arash Sigarchi to 14 years in prison (Via Jeff Jarvis):

An Iranian journalist was jailed for 14 years on charges ranging from espionage to insulting the country's leaders in an unusually heavy sentence in Iran, where tens of journalists have been tried in recent years.

Rights activists said on Tuesday that Arash Sigarchi, 28, was convicted by the Revolutionary Court in the Caspian province of Gilan in northern Iran.

Sigarchi, a newspaper editor in Gilan who also wrote an Internet journal or "weblog," was arrested last month after responding to a summons from the Intelligence Ministry.


I had other things to blog about today. But, I decided to join the global action day on 02/22/2005 to support two jailed Iranian bloggers, Arash and Mojtada.

The BBC reported (Via Virtually Islamic):

Iran is becoming an increasingly dangerous place to keep an online diary.

Web logs have become a popular forum for dissent. And the Iranian government has responded by arresting dozens of bloggers.

Some of those detained are reportedly being held in solitary confinement and tortured.

Bloggers Arash Sigarchi and Mojtaba Saminejad are both currently in prison in Iran.

Mr Sigarchi has been in detention since 17 January while Mr Saminejad was first detained in November.

"Freedom of expression is really at stake at the moment," says Julien Pain, who runs the Internet Freedom Desk at the Paris based group Reporters without Borders.

"The Iranian authorities have been clamping down on regular media for a long time, but it's only in the last six months that they're harshly attacking cyber-dissidents and webloggers. It's really a serious situation."

The Iranian government has not said explicitly that it is blogging that got Mr Sigarchi and Mr Saminejad into trouble.

However, both have used their blogs in the past to criticise the detention of other Iranian webloggers.


The Committee To Protect Bloggers announced its first campaign on 02/20/2005:

If you're a blogger or read blogs, help by writing letters to the Iranian representatives in your country of residence. The Committee listed the contact details of those representatives in the USA and other countries.

Bloggers are encouraged to participate in this act. If you're a blogger living in the free world or an annonymous blogger, don't be very confident that you're free to say what you want without being harrased by someone with authority. Many American bloggers have been fired from their jobs over blogging as reported by the Washington Post in this report. You may never know what may tick your boss' nerves.

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