Human rights groups urge Iran to avoid cutting the internet on election day

In an open letter to the Supreme Leader and the President of Iran, 45 civil society organizations advocating for Iranian and international internet rights and freedoms called for respect of citizens’ right to access the Internet during the 2021 presidential elections and urged Iran to avoid cutting the internet access on election day.

The letter was also sent to the Supreme National Security Council, the Revolutionary Guards, the Ministry of Intelligence and a number of other entities.

The letter says: Internet, social media platforms, and messaging apps play a critical role in providing a space for expression and activism in any society, especially in contexts like Iran, where the public sphere is severely controlled and policed through criminalization of the right to freedom of expression.

These outlets provide space for communicating, public debate, seeking information on election processes and candidates, advocating for human rights, reporting and documenting events and outcomes, as well as electoral and human rights violations.

For weeks, Iranian journalists and activists have reported on threats from security authorities that criticism of Ebrahim Raisi — head of judiciary and presidential candidate — during the election period will not be tolerated.

The Islamic Republic of Iran has a long history of cutting the internet nationwide, as well as aggressive censorship of social media platforms during elections, the November 2019 protests which were violently repressed, and, more recently, the near-total internet shutdown in Sistan and Baluchistan during the February 2021 protests. There have also been numerous reports of internet and social media shutdowns, including Signal and Clubhouse in 2021.

Other specific requests in the letter include:

-Refrain from arbitrarily blocking access to social media platforms.

-Stop blocking and tampering with VPN connections.

-Refrain from impeding access to high-quality, secure, and unrestricted internet for everyone throughout the election period and thereafter

The letter was signed by organizations such as the Abdorrahman Boroumand Foundation, the Siamak Pourzand Foundation, Article 19, the Center for Human Rights in Iran and Human Rights Watch.

Source: رادیو فردا
Also read: Prominent Activist in Iran Fears Her “Life is in Danger” After Violent Confrontations

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