NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--On Wednesday, United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) continued its Social Media Campaign, by calling on Twitter, Inc. to suspend the account of Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The Iranian regime misuses Twitter as a platform to spread hateful content and propaganda, while blocking citizens’ access to the site.
Following the fraudulent June 2009 presidential elections in Iran, Twitter was a vital protest tool in what was initially dubbed the “Twitter Revolution.” During the post-election crackdown, however, Iranian authorities blocked access to Twitter and prosecuted a number of protesters for their activities on the site. Iranians that use Twitter today risk arrest, torture and even death, particularly when expressing political views.
At the same time, the regime hypocritically operates an account for Khamenei himself, @khamenei_ir, which regularly features propaganda and hateful content. Khamenei’s account has posted that the “People of world hate #US regime,” and called Israel “A Hideous Entity In the Middle East Which Will Undoubtedly Be Annihilated.”
As part of its Social Media Campaign, UANI has been calling on Facebook, Inc. to suspend Khamenei’s Facebook account. The regime also uses Facebook to spread propaganda and post offensive messages, yet blocks Iranian citizens’ access to the site and has unjustly imprisoned, tortured, and killed Iranians for using it.
In a letter to Twitter CEO Dick Costolo, UANI CEO, Ambassador Mark D. Wallace, wrote:
The Iranian regime is one of the world’s worst violators of human rights. … These repressive practices include blocking citizens’ access to Twitter. If you recall, following the disputed June 2009 presidential elections in Iran, Twitter was a vital tool used by Iranians to voice their dissatisfaction with the results, organize rallies and report human rights abuses. In what came to be dubbed the “Twitter Revolution,” citizens, activists and journalists provided the world an inside look into events in Iran by tweeting real-time updates on the election and the subsequent regime crackdown. In that post-election crackdown, Iranian authorities blocked access to Twitter and prosecuted a number of protesters for their activities on the site. While some Iranians are able to circumvent the ban on Twitter through the use of Virtual Private Networks (“VPNs”), their freedom of action is greatly curtailed because “some of the most affordable VPNs on the Iranian market are supplied by the Revolutionary Guard itself, and provide no protection whatsoever.” In short, Twitter is largely inaccessible to Iranians and those Iranians that do have access to Twitter become a target of regime authorities.
The risks of using Twitter and other social media platforms in Iran have intensified since the Iranian regime established its “FATA” cyber-police unit in January 2011 to “take on anti-revolutionary and dissident groups who used Internet-based social networks in 2009 to trigger protests against the re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.” As a result, Iranians that use Twitter risk arrest, torture and even death, particularly when expressing political views that do not align with the regime’s rigid ideological line.
It is a sad irony that Ayatollah Khamenei and other regime officials are actively using Twitter to promote the regime’s radical agenda to the world, while concurrently denying their people the ability to “participate in this global conversation.” Below are just a few examples of the hateful content regularly disseminated on Ayatollah Khamenei’s Twitter account:
“#Iran's Leader: 3/#IslamicAwakening must be vigilant towards the unpleasant & horrifying experience of pursuing Western lifestyle & politics”
“#Iran's Leader: The Civil War in #Syria & the killing of Muslim youth by Muslim youth are crimes started by #America and #Zionism.”
“Ayatollah Khamenei: Israel Is A Hideous Entity In the Middle East Which Will Undoubtedly Be Annihilated”
UANI recognizes that it is not Twitter’s intent to provide a tool for the Iranian regime to spread its propaganda. UANI also acknowledges that Twitter does not control the firewall and censorship system that blocks and monitors Iranian access to the site. However, given that Twitter is blocked to Iranians and its usage has led to the unjust imprisonment, torture and death of opposition activists, UANI believes that the only responsible course of action is for Twitter to suspend Ayatollah Khamenei’s Twitter account.
UANI has requested a reply from Twitter by June 10, 2013.