Sunday, 10 June 2012

imprisoned for information

Hossein Roneghi Maleki
this man is serving a 16-year prison sentence for creating proxies to help those opposed to the regime in Iran have access to information on the internet.  As Harry's Place reminds us, the "green" protests died down rather after his arrest, because the opposition was fuelled by information and contact with the outside world.  Those outside Iran who have contact with Iran, who go there, who take its money (George Galloway) are better placed than most to call for the release of this man.  Anyone?  Anyone? (sound of tumbleweed).
When will the illiberal-minded, in the West as well as in totalitarian regimes like that in Iran, learn that you can't shut down knowledge, or information.  Even in the darkest days of Soviet terror, even in the gulags, well before there was the internet, there were clandestine leaflets and newsletters.  There may even be such things in North Korea today.  In Cuba people find ways to speak, and to read, and to be heard (step forward, Yoani Sanchez).  The mullahs can lock up one man, but they can't stop it.  Their days are numbered.

There have been disgracefully illiberal attempts in the West too, to close down the internet.  Laughable, I know,but such eminent figures as Jack Straw (whom I admire) have lent their name to such things, including the Dangerous Pictures act (remember that?), promoted by Martin Salter, which criminalises the depiction on line of acts which would be perfectly legal if actually depicted on film in a cinema.  Because we must Shut Down Teh Internetz.  It's easy to be flippant about such things when you live in a country where there is, more or less, free speech and freedom of information.  Nobody is going to put me in prison and threaten my family, whatever I say.

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