Friday, 07 August 2009, 02:44 GMT
Iranian Kurdistan: Police destroy satellite dishes
By GfbV - Germany

Police destroy satellite dishes - West-European firms have supplied technology for monitoring the internet

Iranian security forces have in Kurdish towns deliberately destroyed satellite installations on the Iraqi Kurdistan border, seemingly with the object of preventing the reception of foreign TV and radio stations. This was reported on Tuesday by the Society for Threatened Peoples (GfbV). Staff of the international human rights organisation, which is represented in the autonomous federal state of Iraqi Kurdistan with an independent section, stated by telephone that in Mahabad, Bokan, Saqis, Baneh and Mariwan in Iranian Kurdistan (Eastern Kurdistan) satellite dishes and receptors had been demolished by the police.

"Those concerned can now only receive information independently of the government-controlled print media in Iran through the internet", said the GfbV Near-east consultant, Dr. Kamal Sido. "But this is dangerous since the regime operates a highly sophisticated system of monitoring the internet." All internet service providers (ISP) must operate all data links through a single junction, the government-controlled "Telecommunications Company of Iran" (TCI). With equipment from Nokia Siemens Network, a joint venture company of the German Siemens AG and the Finnish Nokia Corp. the TCI can not only block internet pages and cut off connections, but also control individual communication, identify sender and recipient and and trace the movements of users of the world-wide data network. The equipment for spying was installed by Nokia Siemens Network in accordance with a telecommunications agreement which also covered a mobile telephone network.

With SmartFilter a commercial filter programme is reported to have been installed which was developed by the US American company Secure Computering. The firm denies however that its software is used in Iran. The regime has also encouraged the development of domestic filter and monitoring programmes so that online contents can like in China be controlled by inland technology.

Courageous internet users could bypass the data filter through so-called proxy servers and access forbidden internet pages like facebook.com or youtube.com, said Sido. However they are not undetectable, for the regime. Iranian human rights groups report that 41 journalists, four bloggers and a French student have been arrested who sent pictures and news on protest campaigns by eMail. There are some 60,000 people active in the Iranian blogger-scene.

In Iran about 23 million people have internet access. In the run-up to the presidential election at least 38 new websites in Iran were censored, including the Persian BBC, which is the most popular foreign internet page of the British news station.