Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Iran Imprisons Canadian Blogger for 19 1/2 Years

Image from Wikipedia
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's (CBC) The Current has a the following story today

Sept 28/10 - Pt 2: Hossein Derakshan
Hossein Derakshan is an Iranian-born Canadian and a controversial writer who's known as the "blogfather" of Iran. He's being held in Iran's notorious Evin Prison. And today he was sentenced to 19 years in prison. We talk to two people who are close to him.

[The piece begins with a short promo for another segment on the census]

Basically, the story is about an Iranian born Canadian blogger who blogged extensively about Iran.  A  2005 BBC report says:

Hossein Derakhshan, [Note sometimes his name has an h after the k] who keeps a weblog under the name of Hoder, has already made a name for himself in the Persian-language blogosphere.
He created the script that allows Iranians to keep online diaries in their native Persian language. But now, Derakhshan has taken his online activities to next level.
He is now producing an audio blog, or podcast.

Today's broadcast about his sentence includes interviews with his friend and ex-wife Marjan Alemi who learned about the sentence from Derakhshan's parents in Iran, who were excluded from the trial and sentencing.  In fact, she says, they got no word about what happened to him for 8 months after he disappeared.  There is also an interview with Maziar Bahari "a correspondent with Newsweek Magazine and [who] spent 118 days in Evin Prison. He was released last October. Maziar Bahari was in London, England."

The interviews revealed that Derakshan has been supportive of the Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and was invited to Iran and promised safety. Bahari said that the Iranian government is fragmented and it was the Revolutionary Guard that has imprisoned Derakshan.  In Bahari's case, the Canadian government was very vocal and active in working for his release.  Bahari said that in Derakshan's case, his parents, threatened by the Iranian government to not publicize the case, asked the Canadian government not to make it public. 

Here's the beginning of a 2003 post by Derakshan on weblogs and Iran from Sky of Red Poppies.

The real Iran
How weblogs can change the way the world sees Iran
By Hossein Derakhshan
October 1, 2003
The Iranian
Having lived almost all my life in the Islamic Republic of Iran, I've always wanted to see the West and why clerics in Iran dislike its values and lifestyle so much.
My only experience with these sorts of events was when I met another Iranian ex-pat who had been arrested in the Iranian airport as he was leaving for an international academic conference in Europe.  He said the international pressure helped get him out.  He also said that his imprisonment was meant to be a warning to others.  Bahari said the same thing about Derakshan's long sentence.

I would urge other bloggers to listen to the CBC broadcast and learn more about this situation and post about it.  The thing the Iranian government likes least - illustrated by this long sentence - is publicity about these things.

There's also a Facebook page to Free Hossein Derakhshan.  This is a time when bloggers can make a difference to free a fellow blogger.

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