- Title: VARIOUS: Internet used as a tool to tell story of Iranian protests
- Date: 18th June 2009
- Summary: (SOUNDBITE) (English) OWNER OF WEBSITE WWW.AZARMEHR.BLOGSPOT.COM , SAYING: "It's using fear by announcing that anyone taking pictures or film footage is going to be arrested and severely punished. At the same time they are making sure that the internet speed is slow and they keep filtering sites so that if anyone does take anything it's hard for them to get the news out."
- Reuters ID: LVA4S1DIP7GE73A518B7J9K9GZ1T
- Duration: 00:00:21
- Topics: Domestic Politics
- Story Text: Iranians use digital media and citizen journalism to report the latest on the disputed presidential election, writing blogs and posting on social networking sites.
With Iran's authorities banning foreign media journalists from leaving their offices to cover protests on the streets of Tehran following the country's disputed presidential elections, Iranians are using the digital media to get the story out by writing blogs and posting on social networking sites.
In London, blogger Potkin Azarmehr said that Iranians are using the only available options to tell the story of what is happening in Iran.
"The only avenue left at the moment is citizen journalism, but even that is getting quite dangerous as well, they have announced that anyone taking pictures and film footage will also be arrested. But there's so many people out there now, you know the numbers are now in millions and people have gained so much confidence their fear has gone. They think this is the price that we are going to pay for freedom, this is our opportunity and they are still going ahead with it," Azarmehr said.
Azarmehr said that as well as frightening people with threats of arrest and violence, Iranian authorities were also making sure the internet ran slowly and many websites were filtered and monitored, despite the problems this could cause for Iranian business and industry.
"It's using fear by announcing that anyone taking pictures or film footage is going to be arrested and severely punished. At the same time they are making sure that the internet speed is slow and they keep filtering sites so that if anyone does take anything it's hard for them to get the news out." Azarmehr said, "They can clamp down on internet, they can clamp down on mobile services and SMS etcetera, but the country needs those things to function, you know how long can they do this for, if they carry on doing it it's just going to set Iran further and further back. They are trying to turn Iran into a North Korea but they wont be able to, it's too late now, the people have got used to this technology, businesses, finance, and industry are using this technology and you just can't push it back anymore."
1979's Islamic Revolution in Iran was co-ordinated by Ayatollah Khomeni through the country's mosques because there were no political parties in Iran. Azarmehr said despite there still being no political parties in present day Iran, the protests against the authorities were being coordinated via a virtual network online rather than mosques.
"The organisation and the leadership is coming through the cyber space. The cyber space in a way are replacing the mosques for dissent and protest against the government."
Baqer Moin, director of London based company Jadid Media, said that tools of revolution had changed since Ayotollah Khomeni took power from the Shah in 1979.
"If we go back 30 years we remember that in 1979, Ayatollah Khomeini was in Paris leading the revolution, was relying heavily on three instruments. Telephone line in which his messages were read and people recorded it and distributed it, and then there were sort of night letters that were copied by hand, printed secretly, and also short wave radios if they had, broadcast from various places or international media." Moin said, "Now we've got citizen journalism in Iran, we've got telephone lines, twitters, facebook, many other websites who are exchanging information between the students bodies, between the Iranians who've got access to this kind of information, and they exchange it with others."
Moin believes that the speed and breadth of coverage on the internet of the situation in Iran has helped gather support across the world for the protesters.
"It would have been unprecedented 30 years ago to see the picture of someone who was killed immediately on the net across the globe, which is bringing about a lot of response, not only from international community, but mainly from the Iranians who participated in the elections in various parts of the world, who have been demonstrating against the result of the election. So I think the role of the digital media has revolutionised really the way demonstrations have been reported, and for that reason it's been playing a very, very important role."
Defeated presidential candidate Mirhossein Mousavi has called on supporters to stage peaceful demonstrations or gather in mosques on Thursday (June 18) to express solidarity with people killed in post-election unrest.
State television said seven people were killed on Monday in a big opposition protest in downtown Tehran against what Mousavi says was a rigged election in favour of hardline incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Saturday's (June 13) announcement of official election results showing Ahmadinejad had won a landslide has led to days of clashes between Mousavi backers, anti-riot police and Ahmadinejad supporters. The authorities have dismissed opposition allegations of vote rigging in Friday's election.
After Monday's (June 15) deaths, Mousavi urged followers to call off a planned rally in the same downtown area the following day. Tens of thousands of his supporters marched instead on Tuesday (June 16) in northern Tehran. On Wednesday, a big crowd of pro-Mousavi demonstrators gathered in a downtown square in a fifth day of protests.
During the post-election violence, police have accused "bandits" of setting buses to fire, breaking windows of banks and other buildings, and damaging public property.
On his website, Mousavi condemned arrests of his allies in the past few days. Dozens of pro-reformers have been detained since Friday's election, including senior figures, sources say.
The ISNA news agency, quoting provincial officials, said 88 people were arrested during post-election unrest in the northeastern city of Mashhad and up to 60 people in Tabriz in the northwest.
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