August 5: Iranian Bloggers Speak Out

Bloggers the world over are protesting the recent imprisonment of several Iranian students who were charged with “defaming Islam” by temporarily renaming their blogs “August 5th,” in honor of the 101st anniversary of the Iranian Constitutional Revolution, reports Global Voices Online.

According to a Radio Free Europe story (reprinted with permission here), eight students from Tehran Polytechnic University were imprisoned because of their writings in student publications and were charged with “inciting public opinion” and insulting Iran’s leaders. Three of the students are still in jail and, according to their families, have been deprived of sleep and food and been beaten until losing consciousness.

It’s great to see so many bloggers – GVO counts 397 from Iran and elsewhere – taking a stand. Whether Ahmadinejad listens or not (and it is likely that he won’t), it should be recognized that bloggers who are inside Iran are significantly sticking their neck out for this; Iran has jailed bloggers before, and there is nothing to keep them from doing so again.

In that vein, GVO has a link to the Reporters Without Borders’ Handbook for Bloggers and Cyber-Dissidents, which gives tips ranging from how to create a blog to how to get around digital censorship. If you’re in a country where free speech is an issue (or in a country where the NSA could be watching your every move) it’s a handy resource.

Iran may need an entire system overhaul, but for now let’s hope for the hasty release of those students.


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