There is political turmoil in Iran right now. The results of the recent presidential election held on June 12th, 2009 are under protest, as incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad won with two-thirds of cast votes. Ahmadinejad’s opponent, Prime Minister of Iran Mir-Hossein Mousavi received the other 33% of cast votes, but claims that the election was rigged and the total vote count is false.
You may remember Ahmadinejad’s visit to Columbia University in the United States a while back, where he made some fairly homophobic remarks. “In Iran we don’t have homosexuals like in your country. Iran we do not have this phenomenon. I don’t know who’s told you that we have this.”
Iranian citizens are supporting Mousavi’s claims by protesting in the streets and by trying to gather support through texts, the internet, blogs and even Twitter. The Iranian government, led by Ahmadinejad is attempting to block all information about the election and it’s results by banning all internet traffic and jamming cell phone texts.
The controlling of this information is disgusting to me, and just seems to implicate the falsity of the results. I totally take for granted the fact that I have unlimited, unrestricted access to pretty much all the information I want. And, I have a free venue to post any of my opinions (doesn’t mean you’ll read them, but at least I have the option).
I’m a lazy bastard, an armchair activist if you can even call it that. I don’t usually pay enough attention to world politics and I’m not the only one. While researching this article the top three video articles on BBC News were (in order): “Girl to sue over facial tattoos”, “Obama swats fly mid-interview” AND THEN “Fresh protest in Tehran”.
I did come across such an inspiring article today, though.
Basically this guy, Austin Heap, from the states (who previously took on main-stream media by providing episodes of South Park online for free) transferred his information sharing skills into providing the Iranian public the ability to get their voices heard in such an important political climate.
What allowed Iranians to have their voice in the news, also reconnected families separated by thousands of miles.
Traffic on his blog grew from a couple of dozen unique users a day to more than 100,000 in 24 hours. A woman in Canada asked him for help getting her Iranian family back online.
On Twitter, a Tehran resident posted: “@austinheap Thank you for all you are doing to help my people. This support and kindness will never be forgotten.”
“Most of the reactions from Iran have almost made me cry,” he said. “Having somebody tell me that their family thanks me – that’s the power of the Internet.”
Iran is a far away land to me. I know almost nothing unbiased about its culture, or government. But, I have the utmost interest in the right to information, and for everyone to at least have their voice heard. It makes me very happy to know that there are people out there like Heap.