Activists Launching Protest at Geneva Gathering of World Radiocommunication Conference
(23 January 2012) The World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC), the UN regulatory gathering opening today in Geneva, should take decisive steps to end the Iranian government’s illegal and widespread jamming of satellite signals, theInternational Campaign for Human Rights in Iran said today.
“This year’s Conference is facing a serious challenge in the Iranian government’s breach of international telecommunications standards. The Conference must put an immediate end to this illegal practice,” said Hadi Ghaemi, the Campaign’s spokesperson.
The 2012 WRC opens today in Geneva and is organized by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), a UN agency.
According to Valery Timofeev, Director of ITU’s Radiocommunication Bureau, “The WRC process helps to improve regulatory procedures, to provide frequency and orbit resources for new technologies, and to strengthen the technical framework for the operation of services.”
Existing ITU regulations forbid any member states from interfering and jamming satellite signals.
However, for years the Iranian government has been grossly violating this regulation by jamming alternative Persian-language satellite broadcasts into Iran. This trend has particularly intensified since the June 2009 disputed presidential election. As a result, the Iranian people’s right to access information is severely curtailed.
“WRC has an urgent responsibility to strengthen existing regulations so that the Iranian government cannot continue violating telecommunications standards while also being a prolific user of the same platforms for its own purposes. It is time to stand up to this duplicitous practice,” Ghaemi said.
Iranian activists are holding protests in Geneva against their government’s widespread telecommunications censorship, concurrent with WRC’s opening session.
In addition to jamming of satellite broadcasts, the Iranian government is also engaged in comprehensive attempts to take complete control of online access to the internet as well as restricting mobile voice and data communications.
The government is planning to launch a local intranet, advertised as Halal/National Internet, to curb Iranian people’s access to websites outside of Iran. Halal internet infrastructure, if put in place successfully, will allow government censors to choke off internet access at will. It will be another step towards cutting off the Iranian people from the outside world.
The Campaign is urging the international community and Iranian Diaspora to engage in sustained actions against Iranian government’s censorship plans. The goals of these actions are to raise awareness about the gross censorship in Iran, to identify foreign companies cooperating with the Iranian government on this front and bring an end to such cooperation, to call on international satellite providers to halt services to the Iranian government as long as it engages in jamming broadcast signals, and to find technological solutions to counter the Iranian government’s censorship.
In supporting the Iranian human rights community’s opposition to widespread censorship, the Campaign will promote and search for ways to implement the above actions and to encourage all international actors to focus on this pressing and urgent issue.