Just a week ago (1 June 2016) two entrepreneurial young adults, aged 30 and 31, were arrested by the regime’s Cyber Police (FATA) in Fars province Southern Iran. Their crime is to have posted a satirical cartoon online. The black and white rendered cartoon depicts a vehicle, in which the current Supreme leader Ali Khamenei is being navigated in the front seat by his predecessor Rouhollah Khomeini.
Iran’s Cyber Police is part of a larger initiative known as Tehran’s Cyber Army and under the mullahs’ regime is mandated to suppress and identify users that violate the law. The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) which heads up the repressive initiative may be able to boast up-to-date technological standards, but in terms of ideology it is draconian.
In an intelligence report published in March on intelligence gathered by the main opposition group People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI) says that Tehran’s Cyber Army has a policy to root out anything deemed as ‘anti-regime’.
A question though hangs over its accountability for to not violate the human rights’ of those brought on charges of being ‘anti-regime’. Section 3.5 of the report cites that ‘members of the clerical regime’s Majlis (parliament) openly support the illegal and inhumane actions of the Cyber Army’. The first liberty under attack is Freedom of Expression, but also the Right of Association; but without question is the individual’s inalienable right to life.
Under the banner of cyber security, one of the most notorious cases human rights’ violations by the Cyber Army was the torture of Iranian blogger Sattar Beheshti in 2012. Mr. Beheshti had been arrested on 30 November 2012 for writing contents on social media deemed offensive to the regime’s officials. Then within just four days on 4 December 2012 Sattar Beheshti died from the affects of torture in Evin prison.
In recent weeks two other young webloggers in Rasht and Roudbar Northern Iran have been charged with so-called computer crimes. And last week the regime announced that it had set a one-year deadline for Telegram and other social media platforms to hand over data on Iranian users.