News / Middle East

    Rights Group: Iran Crushing Dissent Before Election

    Iranian technicians monitor data flow in the control room of an internet service provider in Tehran, February 15, 2011
    Iranian technicians monitor data flow in the control room of an internet service provider in Tehran, February 15, 2011

    Iran is crushing dissent leading up to its March 2 parliamentary elections and has launched a “cyber army” to block Internet and social media communication, according to Amnesty International.

    “What we’ve seen is an intensification of patterns of human rights violations” Suzanne Nossel, executive director of Amnesty USA, told VOA’s Persian News Network. She said the Tehran government has cracked down on journalists, NGOs, think tanks and opposition figures.

    Nossel said Tehran has put a trained corps of cyber police in Internet cafes to enforce the crackdown, making it very difficult for anyone to document or relate to the world any abuses - as they did in 2009 when massive protests were brutally squashed by the government.

    Opposition activists, reformists, and students at the time used Facebook, Twitter, and mobile phone videos to alert the world to the bloody crackdown, a technique also used in uprisings across the Arabic-speaking world in the past year.

    “They’ve seen people use their cell phones, their computers, the Internet to connect with one another, to organize and mobilize, and I think this decision to focus so heavily on creating a cyber police force, and putting such intense restrictions on access to the Internet and the ability of people to connect is a direct response to that,” Nossel said.

    Iran's protests were a reaction to the re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in a vote many Iranians said was fraudulent.

    Many reformists believed opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi would have been the winner in an accurate count. Tens of thousands took to the streets in what became known as the Green Movement, because demonstrators adopted the color green, a symbol for Mousavi's campaign.

    The demonstrations led to clashes with police and pro-government militia. One person who died in the protests was a young woman, Neda Agha-Soltan, whose shooting death was captured on cell phone videos that reverberated around the world.

    Khamenei: Questioning election results a crime

    Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei attends a meeting with Iranian nuclear scientists and managers in Tehran, February 22, 2012
    Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei attends a meeting with Iranian nuclear scientists and managers in Tehran, February 22, 2012

    In August of 2009, Mr. Ahmadinejad demanded that opposition leaders be prosecuted for what he said was their role in masterminding the unrest. The protests eventually faded due to the crackdown and in October, supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said questioning the results of the election was a crime.

    Pro-reform political parties have been banned, and opposition leaders Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi have been under house arrest for the last year. Nossel believes the “repression of political opponents, placing them under house arrest, is just a deliberate effort to shore up the regime.”

    Iranian authorities have been urging the security forces to be vigilant against “enemy threats” leading up to this year's vote.

    “The enemy's propaganda machines and the media of arrogant circles have begun an extensive effort so that the assembly election is without splendor,"  Ayatollah Khamenei said recently. "But all should know that the people's participation in the elections will take the country forward... an election full of excitement will be a major blow to the enemy."

    You May Like

    Video Democrats Clinton, Kaine Offer 'Very Different Vision' Than Trump

    In a jab at Trump, Clinton says her team wants to 'build bridges, not walls'; Obama Hails Kaine's record; Trump calls Kaine a 'job-killer'

    Turkey Wants Pakistan to Close Down institutions, Businesses Linked to Gulen

    Thousands of Pakistani students are enrolled in Gulen's commercial network of around two dozen institutions operating in Pakistan for over two decades

    AU Passport A Work in Progress

    Who will get the passport and what the benefits are still need to be worked out

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movementi
    X
    July 22, 2016 11:49 AM
    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora