Iranian human rights activists are calling on the European Union and the United States to end all collaboration between satellite companies and the Iranian government.
Iranian Nobel Peace laureate Shirin Ebadi and the director of the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, Hadi Ghaemi, published a statement in The Wall Street Journal today, heavily criticizing how European satellite providers “continue to provide services to Tehran despite its comprehensive assault on free expression and free access to information.”
Ebadi and Ghaemi contend that “Iran leads the world in illegal jamming of international satellite broadcasts, but it is a prolific user of international broadcasting platforms for its own programming. European satellite companies like Eutelsat, Intelsat and Arqiva provide extensive services to the Iranian state-owned Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB), including for domestic Iranian radio and television broadcasts, and for Iran’s growing list of foreign-language channels, like the English-language PressTV and the Arabic Al-Alam.”
The statement adds that the Islamic Republic government jams non-governmental Persian-language programs, and companies such as Eutelsat or Arqiva make no effort to hold them accountable for their actions and instead continue to broadcast IRIB channels.
Ghamei and Ebadi say that “the IRIB is not a simple broadcasting service” but rather “it is an integral part of the Iranian intelligence and security services, engaged in unprecedented domestic repression. The IRIB’s camera crew and staff act as interrogators, going inside prisons to obtain coerced confessions from prisoners of conscience, hand in hand with interrogators and torturers from the Iranian intelligence services.”
The rights activists also accuse the IRIB of broadcasting “libelous programs and spreading hate speech against a wide spectrum of Iranians: civil-society activists, religious minorities such as Bahais and Shia Sufis, dissident clerics — basically anyone who does not toe the official government line.”
Last month, the European Parliament called on Eutelsat to stop its services to Iran so long as the Iranian government continues to illegally jam satellite programs.
The Islamic Republic has described non-government satellite programs as tools of its enemies, and Iranians have been forbidden from working in any way with these channels without permission from the Ministry of Culture.
Meanwhile, Iranian police regularly enter people’s homes to damage or confiscate their satellite dishes so they can’t receive satellite programming.
Ebadi and Ghaemi call on the EU and the U.S. to “take immediate and decisive action requiring that these satellite companies end their cooperation with Iranian censors.”
The two rights activists argue that “without pressure on these companies from both sides of the Atlantic, the people of Iran will remain cut off from the outside world.”