Saturday, March 08, 2008

Shutting the Information Outlets


The recent long directive by Iran’s National Security Council to the media instructs them ‎on how to write various domestic and international news reports. Such a directive has no ‎precedence during the last 30 years and is thus a sad return to dictatorship whose ‎difference aspects call for analysis.‎

Iranian officials who dictate such rules for the country’s media have probably forgotten ‎the fate of the Shah and his regime. Many documents pertaining to the years prior to the ‎‎1979 revolution remain and clearly show that when the Shah learned of the irreversibility ‎of the revolution there was nothing he could do to calm things down.‎

But why did the Shah arrive at such a situation? The answer is clear: During the Pahlavi ‎regime, censorship was so entrenched in the country’s media that instructions were sent ‎to the media on a daily basis, finally leading to a situation where SAVAK (the state ‎security agency) had representative in the national radio, television and newspapers who ‎controlled the headlines. The media had become so void of any criticism that the only ‎person they really deceived was the Shah. By reading the censored news of the time, the ‎Shah had come to believe that his opponents were merely a bunch of terrorists all of ‎whom were behind bars. He had come to believe that his enemies had relations with ‎Western oil companies or were in contact with Soviet spy agencies and worked on their ‎orders. He had come to believe that all international human rights organizations were ‎associates of his enemies. According to existing documents, things were such that since ‎‎1976 the Shah had instructed not to receive the confidential Imperial Inspectorate reports ‎because, in the words of the Minister of the Court, they contained negative points that ‎made him angry.‎

The Shah’s practices were identical to those of the current Supreme National Security ‎Council which expects the media to observe the various instructions it sends them so that ‎nothing that may be of serious concern about the situation in the country be published.‎

The results of these practices are such that, for example, according to the official ‎government newspaper Iran, the President has stressed that “Iran today is the number one ‎power in world” and that the critics of his administration are nothing but propaganda of ‎the country’s enemies. He has further said, “There are always people who exaggerate the ‎power of the enemy and even ignore their own confessions of defeat. But today, ‎everybody knows what the truth is.”‎

Under such censorship conditions dominating the country, the President easily makes any ‎claims he desires and is not even accountable to explain anything to the public, including ‎the basis on which such blown up claims are made. Is it not right to ask him what source ‎considers Iran as the number one power in the world? If some poor or wealthy country, or ‎perhaps some middle men in some foreign bank or company, or even an official in a ‎country that aims to get oil at some discount rate makes such strange and bizarre claims ‎to some naïve Iranian authorities to make them happy, does this a good reason for the ‎president of the country to publicly announce that “Everybody now has learned that “Iran ‎has turned into the number one power of the world?”‎

Those who desire to rule through the control of the flow of information, will not only fail ‎in the long run to hide information from the public, but will even keep the authorities ‎further from the truth. Such a situation is foremost dangerous for the regime itself. Iran’s ‎rulers should not forget the fate of the Shah.