Thursday, January 26, 2012

Bad Time To Be A Writer In Iran

You might think, after the events of the Arab Spring, things would be getting better for writers, journalists and bloggers in countries like Iran. For although they did not have the type of social upheaval within their borders that swept across Egypt, Libya and Tunisia, they are in the same region and likely noticed how people have begun to respond to totalitarianism.

Unfortunately, I guess they've had their hands over their eyes and ears, because in the run-up to national elections there police have begun rounding-up and arresting journalists, bloggers and writers.

There is one sure way to end public debate: silence the public.

Writers, especially in the Digital Age, have become targets for people in power who want to remain in power. It is very easy today to spread an idea with just the click of a button, allowing criticism to wash across the land. China knows this all too well, but they have been more selective with the voices (or pens) they have tried to silence, focusing on a chosen few individuals rather than the broad spectrum.

Iranian officials apparently think a clean sweep is needed to be certain there is not too much public dissent, and not too many "radical ideas" being spread around during a time when public dissent and radical ideas are most needed.

It has never been more dangerous to be a writer than it is today. The Digital Age has brought great power to the desktop of anyone with something important to say, but as Stan Lee wrote, "with great power comes great responsibility." And great peril.

Two bloggers in particular has been arrested, though no official charges have been filed and no official reporting of their arrest has been allowed. Parastou Dokouhaki and Marzieh Rasouli are both imprisoned somewhere in Iran, likely until after the national elections have passed. Their friends and families anxiously await some word from the government on when or if they will be released, or even why or where they are being held.

I ask all writers to keep these two women, and every oppressed writer (and person) everywhere in your thoughts. The power of these two bloggers is evident from the way an entire regime seems to fear them.

Together we are powerful, yet so we are as individuals.

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