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Iran: New Wave of Repression Against Bloggers

Iranian bloggers are facing a new wave of repression as more of them are being jailed, and in one case a blogger's wife was beaten by security forces. It seems the regime is raising its own standards for brutality.

A life in danger

Several news sites reported [fa] that jailed blogger, Hossein Ronaghi Maleki's life is in danger. His health condition has deteriorated, and he has been moved to an isolation cell. His kidney is hemorrhaging and security forces have prevented appropriate medical care for him.

Hossein was arrested along with several others in the East Azarbaijan province where they were volunteering to help earthquake victims in August 2012. He had been released on US$ 500,000 bail in July 2012.

Hossein Ronaghi Maleki, Blogger

Blogger's wife beaten by police

Mohmmad Esmailzadeh, blogger and political activist. Source: Botimar blog

Mohmmad Esmailzadeh, blogger and political activist. Source: Botimar blog

News sites reported [fa] in early September 2012 that Katayoun Bahrami, the wife of blogger and political activist Mohammad Esmailzadeh, had been beaten by the head of police in the northern city, Babol when she complained about the behavior of security forces.

Esmailzadeh used to write a blog about culture, Botimar, and was a reformist. He was arrested after the controversial presidential election in 2009 and jailed for about 90 days. Security forces still appear to search his house from time to time, and have also confiscated personal items. Katayoun's tooth was broken and she spent several days in hospital.

No regrets

Shiva Nazar Ahari, a blogger and human rights activist was sent to prison to serve a four year sentence in September 2012. She had been charged with “attempts to deface the Islamic government”, “assembly with intention of conspiring against the Islamic government”, and “disrupting the public order” in September 2010.

The irony of Nazar Ahari's story is that she can feel lucky to serve “only” four years prison sentence after being acquitted of the charge of “Waging War Against God” a crime that can carry the death penalty.

Shiva has been jailed several times but has said she never regretted her actions. In this short film she is shown after her release from prison, saying that she is determined to stay in Iran at all costs. She says she feels it is where her activity can have the most impact.

Rumor or reality?

One piece of news from last year, about the safety a blogger, caught the attention of several bloggers. Iran-based Mashreg News reported about one year ago that a blogger named “Shayegan Esfandyari” (probably a pen name) was arrested in the southern city Bandar Abbas.

He had been accused of insulting Islam and the Iranian authorities, and for being in contact with foreign media. This news has not yet been confirmed by Iranian authorities or human rights organizations.

Shayegan used to write in the blog Gameron where the tagline description says that most of the posts are satirical and nothing is too sacred to be criticized.

On the Iranian link-sharing site, Balatarin, several bloggers wrote that at the moment the blogger is not writing but it could also be for technical or personal reasons… A comment was recently published on his Facebook profile that sounds very uncharacteristic for the blogger's opinions. Concerns are that he was arrested one year ago and may have had his personal accounts compromised by security forces.

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