Total surveillance in Iran


Published in “Wiener Zeitung” (Austria), November 7, 2009

By Arian Faal

Tehran/Wien. Iran is not calming down. During yesterday’s Friday prayer, chants of “Death to the dictator” could be heard again. Of course, this was not officially reported. After the bloody clampdown of several anti-government protests that have been taking place since the controversial reelection of president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, mass demonstrations of the “Greens”, as the protesters call themselves with reference to the official color of opposition leader Mir Hossein Moussavi’s campaign, were resumed in full activity.

While the protests never stopped entirely, especially in the universities, the security forces widely prevented gatherings in the streets. Therefore, many demonstrators took advantage of the 4th November, the day of the seizure of the U.S. embassy, as an occasion to gather.
What’s delicate here is that many of the students involved in the 1979 U.S. hostage crisis in Iran made steep careers, but have now turned away from the regime and joined the protesters.

Mohsen Mirdamadi, for example, was the voice of those who occupied the embassy, and later became the head of the influential Committee on National Security and Foreign Policy. Meanwhile, he is one of the harshest critics of the leadership. He was arrested on the day after the election and since then has been imprisoned in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison.

Opposition infiltrates events
The “Greens” have for months been infiltrating and taking over demonstrations staged by the regime, and managed to corner the regime: Tehran can not possibly cancel official events, since those are intended to demonstrate the power of the leadership. But now the militias are fed up. With a set of rigorous measures, the opposition shall be systematically silenced in the future. The list of issued commands is long, however, the key term is mass surveillance at all levels: The Ministry of Culture issued a directive that newspapers are allowed to report on official rallies only. The news agencies Reuters and Agence France Press are not allowed to do any research.

In the future, the people will think twice about how and for what purposes they will use traditional communication channels like SMS and telephone, since the Revolutionary Guards have purchased a majority of the shares in Iran’s largest telecommunication company (TCI) for a value of 7,8 billion dollars almost one month ago. The threats via SMS, that citizens of Tehran and other cities received this week, warning them not to participate in “illegal protests”, might soon become a routine. However, the opposition does not even think of giving up.

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