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Protesters ferociously attacked; dissidents hunted down

Internet censorship did not deter thousands of Iranians from protesting this week, calling on authorities to end torture in prisons and respect free expression.
Internet censorship did not deter thousands of Iranians from protesting this week, calling on authorities to end torture in prisons and respect free expression.

via EPA

Iranian authorities have meticulously carried out total control of news and information in the last week, gearing up for National Students' Day on 7 December, reports Reporters Without Borders (RSF). Recently, two prominent journalists were sentenced to lengthy prison terms, reports the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). Others are being summoned for interrogation or simply arrested.

Internet access has been slowed down or blocked making it impossible to surf the Internet or send emails, SMS messaging has been jammed and accreditation of foreign journalists was suspended for 72 hours, reports RSF. In addition, opposition websites have been unavailable for several days.

"This is the first time that censorship measures affecting all forms of media have been adopted so early, several days ahead of... demonstrations, with the aim of preventing the opposition's attempts to rally its supporters by such means as social networks and mobile phones," said RSF.

Thousands of students gathered at universities across Iran on 7 December, and clashes broke out between protestors and tens of thousands of Basij militiamen, according to news reports. The Basij responded with massive amounts of tear gas, electrical truncheons and stun guns to control the crowds.

Students' Day in Iran commemorates the killing of three students by the Shah of Iran at Tehran University on 7 December 1953 in the aftermath of a coup orchestrated by the U.S. and the U.K., which took down the democratically elected prime minister.

Iranian authorities continue to ruthlessly eliminate all critical voices. Farhad Sharfai, a blogger who defends women's rights, was arrested on 2 December in Khoramabad. Tahereh Riahai of the daily "Jahan Eghtesad" ("Economic World") was arrested on 1 December in Tehran.

Critical journalists Hengameh Shahidi and Saeed Laylaz were sentenced to lengthy prison terms on 30 November, reports CPJ. Shahidi was sentenced to six years and three months; and Laylaz was given nine years.

Worldwide acts of protest are planned for 12 December to express solidarity for the Iranian people's struggle for human rights and to focus the world's attention on the grave situation in Iran, according to ArtsUnited4Iran, a campaign sponsored by Human Rights Watch, ARTICLE 19, RSF and other rights groups.

A global network of activists have organised arts and culture events to take place on 12 December, reports ArtsUnited4Iran. Lectures, concerts, gallery showings, readings, round tables and film screenings, are being planned in locations worldwide.

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