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Russia, Iranian Journalists Among CPJ Award Winners

newspapersRFE/RL - The Committee for the Protection of Journalists (CPJ) has presented its annual Press Freedom Award to four journalists, including a Russian and Iranian.

Iranian Government Spying in Social Networking Sites

 

Radiozamaneh - This is a field report about the indifference of internet users to the Islamic republic regime’s spying efforts in cyber space as it tries  to identify those who are against the regime or certain policies.The only immunity for these users comes from their overwhelming multitudes and the  undeniable prevalence of opposition to the regime. Despite this immunity, they have to possess a certain civic courage and regard the freedom to  use the internet as a right, while paying attention to certain security details and maintaining awareness of human predators active in various  government bodies.

      Life on Facebook and Arrests

No one can deny that millions of Iranians rely on Facebook these days. The high number of Facebook users in Iran, which is estimated to be anywhere between four million and five million people, makes this a social phenomena. In the absence of social liberties, as young Iranians are denied the most basic freedoms even in their private lives, what these users reflect on their Facebook pages is in effect how they would like to live.

Iranians use social networking sites for, among other things, political discussion, more open posting and publication of works of art and literature, the announcement of events that cannot be publicized on domestic newspapers and to find kindred spirits or like-minded people. But is it possible for Iranians appear in any arena without Islamic Republic officials cracking down on them?

In June of 2014, three Ahwazi citizens were each sentenced to three years in jail for creating certain Facebook pages; membership on Facebook carried a one-year sentence. Some people are arrested for crimes against morality and public decency on Facebook. In July of 2014, a Revolutionary Court sentenced eight people to a total of 127 years imprisonment for being active Facebook users. In another instance, the Malayer Security chief announced the sentencing of 22 Facebook users, and this is a another long story.

All these instances raise the question of whether Iranian citizens pay attention to being under surveillance by the police and security forces in cyber space and are they effectively guarding their safety?

Constant Observation and Monitoring of Cyber Space

“The main objective of Iran’s Cyber Police is to promote cyber security through continuous observation and monitoring of cyber space,” the deputy head of Iran’s Cyber Police, Ali MirAhmadi, has been quoted as saying; “I advise all users to comply with the laws and regulations and avoid any form of offence within cyber space because the police have complete knowledge of it.”

In most cases, as soon as someone is arrested for using Facebook, the Cyber Police regard them as either a spy, prostitute, enemy abettor or guilty of crimes against morals and public decency; the offences are considered to be proven in advance.

Matin, a second-year university student, says: “Since I don’t do anything particular on Facebook, I have never paid attention. To tell you the truth, when I read the news about heavy prison terms, I don’t think that these are just average people. I don’t know why they arrest these people.”

Mahmoud is a 27-year-old hairdresser and, unlike Matin, he believes “there is no kidding around with Facebook” and explains: “Our friends had two stereo systems. They had sold their car and taken the stereo out and left the stereos at my home so that I could ask my customers if they were interested to buy them. Someone asked me, why don’t you put it on Facebook? You’ll get more buyers. I went into some groups and described the stereo and its price. The first one was sold. Then I did it for the second one. One day, they called from the Security Police to summon me. I first thought it had to do with my store and I went to the zoning office, but then they said I had to go to the security police. Oh my God! Then they really grilled me, asking why I had started a business selling stereos on the internet, and I was in and out of the court for over five months and it really affected my life and livelihood.”

Pariya believes that “under the current circumstances of our society” one should not go on Facebook with one’s own name and identity. She says: “We have so many busybodies, we should really be careful, especially girls. Security police are after those who are into politics. So those who are writing political stuff have to be really careful. One of my friends would distribute information during the election. They would write messages for them and write obscenities under these posts and even threats.”

Peyman has just finished his military service and is looking for work. He spends a lot of time on social networking sites but says: ”I’ve learned not to use my own name or photos.”

I ask what it is that he does on the internet that he needs to keep his identity concealed.

He says: “I don’t do anything. When the dollar went up, I bought some dollars (foreign currency). I would check the news each day to see how much it would go up. Then there were rumours that the price would go down. There were many comments. Eighty-six people had left comments before me. I just wrote that the price would go up and it was only a rumour that it would go down. I had not used any obscenities or bad language. One day, they called and summoned me, saying that the Cyber Police have reported that you have been creating disruptions in the foreign currency market. They gave me eight months in jail, it was reduced in the appeal court to four months. I had to serve two months and the rest they let me off for having no prior record.”

An Iranian political activist who is also very active in the virtual world says he pays close attention to his own security, adding: “I have no fear of the public. I am personally afraid of those who claim to be providing security of information for the public. I am afraid of the police. I mean those who try to cook up a file against people.”

Complainant and Expert Witnesses are One and the Same

A lawyer says that judges often have no expertise in cyber technology, adding: “Judges have no expertise in computer technology and so everything goes back to the reports from the ministry of intelligence or the Cyber Police. The judge accepts these reports as expert opinions. Therefore, it is impossible to prove otherwise.”

An IT expert says the problem is that when an Iranian enters the World Wide Web, he or she must follow the model of use that suits his/her circumstances in Iran. “In our country, the internet and social networking sites are a venue for political activity. The government views this political activity as propaganda against the regime. Therefore, cyber space is under close scrutiny by the government.” The IT specialist goes on to conclude that for this reason, internet users in Iran must maintain different security criteria for themselves when they use the internet as opposed to people outside of Iran.

Unguarded Systems

Many internet users in Iran are not too concerned about protecting their privacy and their personal space or taking security measures on the internet.

Some of them do not take the possibility of identity theft on the internet too seriously and some identify unfamiliarity with the English language as the reason for not exploiting potential security methods found on the web.

Most of the 80 people who were interviewed for this article did not have anti-virus software installed on their systems, and even if they did, they were often old versions and not up to date.

[Translated from the Persian original]

31 Nobel Physics Prize Laureates Join Thousands of Activists to Call for the Release of Iranian Phys


Delegation to Present Stack of Thousands of Petitions and Letters to the Iran UN Mission

International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran  -  (October 22, 2014) – A delegation consisting of Amnesty International, the Committee of Concerned Scientists, and the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran will deliver thousands of petitions and letters collected by these organizations and the American Physical Society calling for the release of Omid Kokabee to the Iran UN Mission in New York on Tuesday October 28 at 10:30 AM at 622 Third Avenue, between 40th and 41st Streets. Among the thousands of signatures on both online and paper petitions, are letters to Iran’s Supreme Leader from 31 recipients of the Nobel Prize in Physics between the years 1972 and 2013.

Members of the delegation will make remarks on the plaza outside of the Iran UN Mission and display the letters and petitions to the public before delivering them to the Mission.

The petition delivery is a culmination of efforts on behalf of Omid Kokabee since his arrest in January 2011. Omid Kokabee is a young (32 years old) physicist specializing in laser optics and photonics. He was doing post-graduate work at the University of Texas, Austin when he was arrested in Iran during a trip home to visit his family. He has been in detention ever since. He was sentenced to ten years in prison after he was convicted on unsubstantiated charges of “communicating with a hostile government” and receiving “illegitimate funds” following an unfair trial in a Revolutionary Court in Tehran. Amnesty International considers Omid Kokabee to be a prisoner of conscience, who has been imprisoned solely due to his refusal to engage in military research for the Islamic Republic of Iran and as a result of spurious charges related to his legitimate scholarly ties with academic institutions outside of Iran.

Omid Kokabee was awarded the Andrei Sakharov Prize from the American Physical Society for “his courage in refusing to use his physics knowledge to work on projects that he deemed harmful to humanity, in the face of extreme physical and psychological pressure.” He has also been suffering from a number of serious health problems that have not been treated.

The timing of the petition delivery is critical: following a concerted effort on his behalf by a number of organizations and thousands of activists around the world, Iran’s Supreme Court recently vacated the ten-year sentence and is now going to review the case against Omid Kokabee. October 28 also marks the official presentation to the United Nations of the report of the UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Iran, Dr. Ahmed Shaheed. Iran’s human rights record will also be closely scrutinized when its Universal Periodic Review in the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva is conducted starting October 31.

The delegation delivering the petitions to the Iran UN Mission is calling for Omid Kokabee to be immediately and unconditionally released so that he can receive urgent medical treatment for his numerous and severe health problems.

The letter to Iran’s Supreme Leader calling for the release of Omid Kokabee is endorsed by the following 31 Nobel laureates in physics: Leon Neil Cooper (1972), Brian David Josephson (1973), Anthony Hewish (1974), Burton Richter (1976), Samuel Chao Chung Ting (1976), Philip W. Anderson (1977), Arno Allan Penzias (1978), Sheldon Lee Glashow (1979), James Cronin (1980),  Nicolaas Bloembergen (1981), Klaus von Klitzing (1985), Jack Steinberger (1988), David. M. Lee (1996), Douglas D. Osheroff (1996), Claude Cohen-Tannoudji (1997), William D. Phillips (1997), Daniel Tsui (1998), Eric A. Cornell (2001), Wolfgang Ketterle (2001), Masatoshi Koshiba (2002), Alexei Abrikosov (2003), Anthony Leggett (2003), David Politzer (2004), David J. Gross (2004), John Hall (2005), John Mather (2006), Toshihide Maskawa (2008), Konstantin Novoselov (2010), Andre Geim (2010), David J. Wineland (2012) and Peter W. Higgs (2013).

 

A LETTER BY A NUMBER OF GONABADI DERVISHES IN AUSTRALIA TO THE UN AND OTHER HUMAN RIGHTS ORGANIZATIO

dervish-prisonMajzooban.org - We, Gonabadi Dervishes, are proud of following a Sufi order which has made us unable to disturb and suppress others and opened our eyes to the reality that all creatures are manifestations of divinity.

Iran-Iraq War off-limits to historians in Iran

censorshipal-monitor.com - The eight-year war (1980-1988) was in many ways a unique event in Iranian history. One of its most important aspects was probably the massive participation of the Iranian people, from all the different regions of the country and levels of society.

COUNCIL OF EUROPE: SUPPORT HUMAN RIGHTS, DEMOCRACY AND GENDER EQUALITY IN IRAN IN ORDER TO OVERCOME

euirannewsupdate.com - Violation of human rights, executions, and arbitrary arrests continue in Iran. Over 1000 were hanged in one year under "moderate president" Rouhani. Religious dictatorship in Iran is the epicentre of terrorism.

Iranian Journalists to Rouhani: Stop Lying

rohani2PayvandNews - In a letter to President Hassan Rouhani, 135 Iranian reporters, editors and media workers from inside and outside Iran urged the president not to insult them by lying about the persecution of journalists in Iran.

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