Iranian leaders find new ways to silence dissent

In a move that will be of doubtless interest to social media followers of the post-election demonstrations in Iran, it’s reported today that Iran’s chief of police has warned opposition supporters against using texts and email to organise protests. In an ominous-sounding interview given to the ISNA news agency, Esmail Ahmadi Moghaddam reportedly warned that the authorities ‘controlled’ SMS networks and that those using them to organise protests ‘have committed a worse crime than those who come to the streets’.

There’s also reports of a renewed clampdown on dissent in Iran, with the arrest of Mohammad Taghi Khalaji, a cleric close to the late Grand Ayatolla Hossein Ali Montazeri who has backed some of the post-election protests.

In a further clampdown on the media, the BBC is reporting that its Persian TV service, reportedly popular with millions of opposition supporters in Iran, has been blocked.

Of course, this comes against a backdrop of countless arrests, with hundreds still held in detention. Many journalists, photographers and human rights defenders are among those rounded up and detained at protests around the country.

Amnesty continues to call for anyone detained solely for their peaceful participation in demonstrations to be released immediately – and for the Iranian authorities to respect people’s rights to freedoms of expression and association.

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