New Haven, Connecticut – The Iran Human Rights Documentation Center (IHRDC) today published witness statements by three Iranian bloggers and cyber-journalists who were arrested and detained by the Iranian government in 2004 and 2005. The witness statements are the results of interviews conducted by IHRDC staff in 2008 and 2009.
Two of the journalists—Roozbeh Mirebrahimi and Omid Memarian—were active cyber-journalists residing in and around Tehran at the time of their arrests. The third witness—Arash Sigarchi—was the Editor-in-Chief of Gilan-e Emrooz in the northern Iranian city of Rasht. They were charged with (and convicted of) moral, press, and national security crimes. The statements, published under the title, Forced Confessions: Targeting Iran’s Cyber-Journalists, describe, in detail, the journalists’ arrests, detention, torture, forced confessions and eventual convictions.
The experiences of these journalists are not unique. In conjunction with the IHRDC reports Ctrl+Al+Delete: Iran’s Response to the Internet (May 2009) and Covert Terror: Iran’s Parallel Intelligence Apparatus (April 2009), these statements expose a network of Iranian government actors—including members of the security and parallel intelligence forces, the Judiciary, and state-run media outlets such as Kayhan newspaper and the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting—responsible for silencing voices of dissent in cyberspace.
Their experiences are also particularly relevant at this time. In an apparent effort to crush any expression of dissent or even disagreement following the disputed presidential election on June 12, the Islamic Republic continues to shut down newspapers, arrest, detain and torture editors and journalists, and arrest and charge Iranian bloggers with crimes such as using the internet to organize demonstrations.
IHRDC continues to call on the United Nations to investigate these and other human rights violations committed by the Iranian government.
IHRDC’s website is www.iranhrdc.org