A group of Iranian bloggers calls for participation in a blog action to support their imprisoned compatriots on January 30. By changing their blogs’ names to “Solidarity of Bloggers with the Imprisoned Iranian Students”, the participants will protest against Iran’s oppression of freedom of expression.
Iran is home to one of the biggest and most influential blogospheres in the world, with Farsi being one of the five most used languages in blogs at all. Back in 2005, about 100.000 bloggers were counted there, nearly as much as today in Germany – with far less inhabitants connected to the internet.
From the beginning, blogs were the media of the oppressed anti-governmental youth. A great influence on popularizing blogs came from Hossein Derakhshan, an Iranian-born journalist living in Canada ((Wikipedia | Hossein Derakhshan)), who teached his compatriots to use this medium. In an interview with the German “Electrical Reporter” ((Elektrischer Reporter | Hossein Derakhshan über Blogkultur im Iran)), Derakhshan spoke about the Iranian blog culture, which does not just include young students. The religious elite uses blogs as well – with special blogging courses for clerics being invented in 2005. Even many politicians have and write their own blogs, like president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad ((Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s Personal memos)).
Though young, anti-governmental students keep being the majority in “Blogistan”, the Iranian blogosphere. Many of them are also members of oppositional student organizations, which are frequently organizing rallies against the political elite and are a serious threat to the conservative government. They are regularly attacked and arrested by the Iranian security forces, with many of them getting tortured in prison.
In the last few month, there was a crackdown on Iranian students after the celebrations of the National Day for Students on November 7. On December 17, when the Iranian government shut down two dozen cyber cafes in a large-scale operation, even more people got arrested ((Committee to Protect Bloggers | Iran shuts down two dozen cyber cafes)). Some of the dozens of students who are still imprisoned are bloggers. Nothing unusual in Iran, which is, together with China and Egypt, one of the most dangerous countries for bloggers, having arrested dozens of cyber dissidents since blogs have been widespread in the last five years – and there is no end in sight.
Reasoned by the above mentioned detention of dozens of their fellow students and bloggers, Iranian bloggers are calling for a protest action on January 30 ((Mideast Youth | January 30, Solidarity of Bloggers with the Imprisoned Iranian Students)). On this day, all participants are urged to rename their blogs for 24 hours. A kind of protest which is not new to the Iranian blogosphere: This action is a remake of former campaigns which also tried to shed a light on the situation of political prisoners in Iran. A large participation in the highly political Iranian blogosphere can be foreseen…
What can I do?
- Rename your blog for 24 hours on January 30 in “Solidarity of Bloggers with the Imprisoned Iranian Students”.
- Write an article about this campaign to inform your readers about it.