The State of Freedom of Expression in Iran | Masoud Ghadim Fallah

0

In Iran, in the last few years, both in 2017 or 2019, two massive protests against the government took place, accompanied by severe repression and the killing of several hundred protesters. As a result, Marxist and socialist accounts that expose class divide in Iranian society and show the consequences of neoliberal economics have been censored by the government. No group or individual has the right to defend Marxist ideas. Working-class values are suppressed in the strongest possible ways. Many writers and activists have been jailed for producing independent publications in the last few years. Many leftist writers and members of the Writers’ Association of Iran are currently in prison. Each received a prison sentence and will remain imprisoned for more than 10 years. Their only crime was that they defended freedom of expression, they gave voice to the disadvantaged, to the working class.

 

I begin this article with a concise and transient reference to history. Iranian society has been deprived of freedom of expression for at least the last 100 years. Writers and intellectuals have always been subjected to government repression and censorship. Whether in the monarchy’s political system during the Pahlavi era or after the revolution, during the Islamic republic’s rule, critics, writers and intellectuals, social and trade activists, and the masses have always been suppressed, arrested, tortured, and executed. However, after the Iranian Revolution’s victory in 1979 and its confiscation by Islamists, the situation becomes much more complicated. For example, one of the most intense repressions and killings occurred in 1988, ten years after the revolution’s victory, when the government executed several thousand socialists and communists overnight. The government also subjected many prominent socialists, who had played a central role in the revolution’s formation for many years, to the most brutal tortures, causing many of them to die. It should also be noted that before the victory of the Iranian Revolution, many socialist and Marxist writers and intellectuals were tortured and detained and spent many years of their life in prison.

Let’s look at the recent years, especially the events in the past three decades. We can point to several cases of repression and censorship by the authoritarian government. In the second half of the 1990s, the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence began killing writers, intellectuals, and members of the Writers’ Association at the orders of some high-ranking Iranian officials. In this regard, activists such as Parvaneh Eskandari, Dariush Forouhar, Mohammad Ja’far Puyandeh, a Marxist writer and translator and member of the Writers’ Association, Mohammad Mokhtari, poet and translator, Hamid Hajizadeh, poet, as well as his nine-year-old son, Karun Hajizadeh — all of them were killed in the most heinous way possible by the high-ranking managers of the Ministry of Intelligence. The writers and translators of the Writers’ Association fought censorship. They defended the right of freedom of expression, which got them to lose their lives. It should also be noted that many more intellectuals were murdered. The government was never held accountable for these killings.

Another critical issue in the history of censorship and the prevention of freedom of expression is the events of 1999. In that year, the Ministry of Culture of the Islamic Republic of Iran banned a newspaper called Salam, which revealed the identities of those responsible for the serial murders. Of course, the more critical issue was that the Islamic Parliament intended to muzzle writers, journalists and intellectuals by passing a law called “Reforming the Press Law” to restrict freedom of expression and monitor opposition writers, journalists and critics of the political system. After several days of detention in Tehran, especially at The University of Tehran, Iran’s most important university, there were mass demonstrations against the government. Known as the University Dormitory events, military forces attacked and beat students in their dormitories in the middle of the night. After several days of major protests, government and military forces carried out a massive crackdown, detaining many, imprisoning and killing several people during the demonstrations.

Another important event is the 2009 elections. When people doubted the elections’ outcome in the so-called “Green Movement”, they denounced the government for rigging the elections. During this period, many journalists, activists, and intellectuals were arrested, and all critical newspapers were banned. In fact, in a 10-year process, the government has eliminated all media that emphasized the mission of freedom of expression. There are no independent and non-governmental media in Iran, and the government does not allow independent activities.

The most severe form of attack on freedom of expression occurred in the last decade. In the past ten years, Iranian society has experienced the most extensive form of censorship, arrests of intellectuals and writers, repression of government opponents, and killings. After the reformist party lost its political legitimacy in recent years, censorship and detention became much more severe. On the other hand, the promotion of the neoliberal economy in Iran and its very negative consequences led to a sharp class divide in Iran. The issue of political strife became more of a class struggle. In Iran, in the last few years, both in 2017 or 2019, two massive protests against the government took place, accompanied by severe repression and the killing of several hundred protesters. As a result, Marxist and socialist accounts that expose class divide in Iranian society and show the consequences of neoliberal economics have been censored by the government. No group or individual has the right to defend Marxist ideas. Working-class values are suppressed in the strongest possible ways. Many writers and activists have been jailed for producing independent publications in the last few years. Many leftist writers and members of the Writers’ Association of Iran are currently in prison. Each received a prison sentence and will remain imprisoned for more than 10 years. Their only crime was that they defended freedom of expression, they gave voice to the disadvantaged, to the working class.

However, in this short article, it is never possible to analyze the situation. The analysis of Iran’s social-political conditions and the economy’s state and its production method requires a detailed discussion. All the forces that play a role in suppressing freedom of expression require a thorough analysis. This short article has only been a very brief introduction to recent development in Iran.

 

Masoud Ghadim Fallah is an Iranian writer and activist, now living in Norway as an ICORN guest writer.

More Posts From this Author:

Share.

Leave A Reply

Translate »