Monday, June 15, 2009

The Iranian Elections and their attempt to stifle viral communication

Here are examples of how seriously governments are taking the ability for the populace to communicate with one another. What is at stake is the very ability for people to communicate with each other as they see fit. I do not see the Ayatollahs winning this one. I think that this is the catalyst for real change in Iran.

Iran Moves to end Facebook Revolution

We've had a few readers send in updates on the chaotic post-election situation in Iran. Twitter is providing better coverage than CNN at the moment. There are both tech and humanitarian angles to the story, as the two samples below illustrate. First, Hugh Pickens writes with a report from The Times (UK) that"the Iranian government is mounting a campaign to disrupt independent media organizations and Web sites that air doubts about the validity of the re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as the nation's president. Reports from Tehran say that social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter were taken down after Mr Ahmadinejad claimed victory. SMS text messaging, a preferred medium of communication for young Iranians, has also been disabled. 'The blocking of access to foreign news media has been stepped up, according to Reporters Without Borders. 'The Internet is now very slow, like the mobile phone network. YouTube and Facebook are hard to access and pro-reform sites... are completely inaccessible.'"And reader momen abdullah sends in one of the more disturbing Ask Slashdots you are likely to see."People, we need your urgent help in Iran. We are under attack by the government. They stole the election. And now are arresting everybody. They also filtered every sensitive Web page. But our problem is that they also block the SMS network and are scrambling satellite TVs. Please, can you help us to set up some sort of network using our home wireless access points? Can anybody show us a link on how to install small TV/radio stations? Any suggestion for setting up a network? Please tell us what to do or we are going to die in the a nuclear war between Iran and US."Update: 06/14 18:32 GMT by KD : Jim Cowie contributes a blog post from Renesys taking a closer look at thestate of Iranian Internet transit, as seen in the aggregated global routing tables, and concluding that the story may not be as clear-cut as has been reported.
The Computer is the Enemy

9:12 AM ET -- The computer is the enemy. We reported last night on accounts of major violence at Tehran University. The AP adds some more detail this morning:

Overnight, police and hard-line militia stormed the campus at the city's biggest university, ransacking dormitories and arresting dozens of students angry over what they say was mass election fraud.

The nighttime gathering of about 3,000 students at dormitories of Tehran University started with students chanting "Death to the dictator." But it quickly erupted into clashes as students threw rocks and Molotov cocktails at police, who fought back with tear gas and plastic bullets, a 25-year-old student who witnessed the fighting told The Associated Press. He would only give one name, Akbar, out of fears for his safety.

The students set a truck and other vehicles on fire and hurled stones and bricks at the police, he said. Hard-line militia volunteers loyal to the Revolutionary Guard stormed the dormitories, ransacking student rooms and smashing computers and furniture with axes and wooden sticks, Akbar said.

Before leaving around 4 a.m., the police took away memory cards and computer software material, Akbar said, adding that dozens of students were arrested.

He said many students suffered bruises, cuts and broken bones in the scuffling and that there was still smoldering garbage on the campus by midmorning but that the situation had calmed down.

"Many students are now leaving to go home to their families, they are scared," he said. "But others are staying. The police and militia say they will be back and arrest any students they see."

"I want to stay because they beat us and we won't retreat," he added.

Tehran University was the site of serious clashes against student-led protests in 1999 and is one of the nerve centers of the pro-reform movement.

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