Yesterday, Tuesday, July 14, 2020, following the official announcement of the death sentences confirmation in Supreme Court for three protesters of the November 2019 uprising, Amir Hossein Moradi, Saeed Tamjidi and Mohammad Rajabi, by Gholamhossein Esmaeili, Judiciary Spokesman, a huge wave of protests erupted in cyberspace. In just a few hours, millions of tweets were posted on Twitter protesting the verdict. The hashtag #اعدام_نکنید, meaning “Do not execute”, was the world’s number one trend for hours.
In the early hours, however, executioners, known as Islamic Republic’s “cyber army” among social media users, tweeted in support of the protesters’ inhumane death sentences in an effort to quell the spontaneous and widespread protest movement. The cyber army actually created a parallel hashtag for “don not execute” that addressed the government and called for the execution of these three: اعدام_کنید meaning “Execute!”
But in this case, everything was not reduced to these two poles, because there were individuals and institutions that are themselves part of the government’s execution machine or even its creators, or that outside Iran, are a reflection of the regime’s propaganda apparatus.
The regime, however, despite using all its capacities in the face of this storm, failed to silence the voice of the people. That’s why, by disrupting the Internet, they tried to suffocate protests in cyberspace.
As disrupting Internet for users inside Iran could not quell the people’s outcry against injustice and oppression in the Islamic system, the regime entered a new phase of repression: the production and dissemination of contradictory news.
Just like 3 weeks ago, on Saturday, July 1, 2020, when HRANA reported the verdicts of these three protesters of Nov 2019 uprising had been confirmed by the Supreme Court. That same day, hours later, the Young Journalists Club, a branch of Khamenei-controlled IRIB, issued a brief statement denying the HRANA report, which was copied and broadcasted by all state media outlets. The Journalists’ Club announcement that day was a lie, one that had only one purpose: to silence the voice of protest.
Today, Fars News Agency played exactly the same role as Young Journalists Club took on three weeks ago.
Following the publication of this news by Fars News Agency, the IRGC news organ, Mehdi Keshtdar, the managing director of Mizan News Agency, affiliated with the Judiciary, denied the news published by Fars:
While Gholamhossein Esmaeili, the spokesman for the judiciary, described the three protesters as “the main perpetrators of the riots” yesterday, the judiciary’s human rights headquarters said in a statement today that the sentences of the three were “not related to the November protests”. And described Amir Hossein Moradi, Saeed Tamjidi and Mohammad Rajabi as “thugs.”
All the regime’s efforts to suppress the widespread protests in cyberspace and disrupting the free flow of information have gone nowhere. The voice of Iranian people was heard by the world. To the extent that Donald Trump, the highest political official of the United States of America, also joined the protesting people of Iran and a few hours ago announced his support for the popular protest by using the hashtag “Do not execute” in Persian and English:
None of these Islamic Republic’s actions and methods are new to the Iranian people. However, what we have seen from yesterday until today, in cyberspace, in response to the widespread protests by the government apparatus, draws a pattern of repression that is not limited to cyberspace. The regime has repeatedly used the same tactics to suppress street protests, and will no doubt use the same known methods in the upcoming uprisings. We should be vigilant and ready.
Translation of this article by Sahar.