|Promoting Literature, Defending Freedom of Expression|
Iran Hacks Major South Azerbaijani Website, Arrests Scores of Demonstrators in Tabriz and Urumia
Tribun, a major South Azerbaijani website was hacked yesterday by Iran’s “Soldiers of Islam” hackers, a cyber extension of Iranian regime’s censor organs. The cyber army is used by Iran to deny freedom of expression for dissenting voices on the internet. The attack on Tribun comes in the wake of northern Republic of Azerbaijan’s hosting of the Eurovision Song Contest, to take place in Baku on 22nd, 24th, and 26th of May.
The Eurovision Song Contest is a popular pageantry and celebration of pop music from Europe and beyond. The Republic of Azerbaijan won the honour of hosting the contest last year in Germany, where its singers came out as the ultimate winners of the Eurovision 2011 event.
In celebration of the events in Baku, Tribun published a comprehensive article discussing various aspects of the contest and its significance for Azerbaijan’s global recognition. It is the publication of this article that seems to be the main reason for Iran’s “cyber warriors” to shutdown the site. The hackers have posted the following message on the hacked site:
“This website was hacked by The Soldiers of Islam for reasons of creating ethnic and racial tensions, and for seeking to disturb public security and ruin national beliefs and norms.” http://www.tribun.com/
It is customary that corresponding to the popular international Eurovision talent show, gay parades also take place by way of celebrating difference and diversity in our human communities. It is in anticipation of such parades in Baku that Iran’s fundamentalist regime has been condemning the hugely secular Azerbaijan in the course of past several months, going so far as withdrawing its ambassador from Azerbaijan and staging government-sponsored demonstrations in the southern Azerbaijani city of Tabriz and so forth.
Meanwhile, various anti-government demonstrations have taken place in a number of South Azerbaijani towns and cities for the purpose of protesting the drying of Lake Urmu and also to commemorate the 6th anniversary of anti-racist protests in the May of 2006. As a result, many demonstrators have been arrested in major South Azerbaijani cities such as Tabriz and Urumia. Tribun has been instrumental in spreading the news of these demonstrations and arrests as well.
Tribun has been a major diasporic South Azerbaijani publication for more than two decades, first in the form of a print journal and then as an electronic publication. Its contribution to issues of multiculturalism and multilingualism in the context of Iran is unrivalled. It has been a powerful voice of dissent in the anti-racist struggle of not only Azerbaijani-Turks but also Iran’s various oppressed nationalities. It is a voice that cannot- and ought not to be- silenced.
We in PEN South Azerbaijan (Iran) in Exile, strongly condemn the Iranian regime’s encroachments on free speech and freedom of expression. We call on this regime and its censor and torture organs to stay away from South Azerbaijani websites, publications and cultural-intellectual activities. We stand in solidarity with our friends, brothers and sisters in TRIBUN.
At the same time, we call on Iranian government to release all the detainees that were arrested in recent days in the environmental Save Lake Urmu demonstrations and in the events commemorating the anniversary of May 2006 anti-racist uprising.
PEN South Azerbaijan (Iran) in Exile