By Syed Zafar Mehdi
The blocking of web domains is not only a flagrant violation of international laws, but also shows that the world’s so-called ‘superpower’ has faced crushing defeat in its information war against Iran
Western ‘free speech’ pundits are never tired of harping about the role of media as the purveyor of truth, disseminator of information, custodian of people’s interests, and the forum of political debate.
They talk seamlessly and animatedly about unrestricted flow of information and its implications in a multi-polar world, while frowning upon censorship and muzzling of free speech.
But, when the talk veers to ‘others’, the whole discourse around freedom of speech and expression, independence of media suddenly goes for a toss. They don’t want others to enjoy such luxuries.
Very few voices have come out of the Western world condemning the US move to block Iran’s international news services, Press TV and Al-Alam, as well as news outlets belonging to resistance groups in neighboring Iraq and Yemen. The blatant duplicity is there for everyone to see.
Had it been any other country taking down the web domain of CNBC or Washington Post, all hell would have broken loose by now. But since the perpetrator in this case is the US and at the receiving end is Iran, it’s business as usual for those smug Western free speech and media freedom advocates.
Quite unsurprisingly, there have been no remarks from Freedom of the Press Foundation, Committee to Protect Journalists, Electronic Frontier Foundation, or those human rights watchdogs that never miss a chance to put Iran in the dock over issues seen as bogus and motivated.
Not that Iran was expecting a statement or a tweet from them, but it has once again punctured their lofty claims of defending press freedom worldwide. They have again proved themselves to be an extended arm of the US regime and its hegemonic policies around the world, which includes attempts to silence the free, fearless and independent media.
The US action of muzzling the voice of free and independent media is not only a flagrant violation of international laws (it violates Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that grants everyone the right "to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers”), it also shows that the world’s so-called ‘superpower’ has faced defeat in its information war against Iran despite crippling sanctions and ‘maximum pressure’.
Iran’s media, in particular Press TV, which caters to English-speaking audience across the world, and Al-Alam, which caters to Arabic-speaking audience in the wider Arab region, have effectively decimated the West-backed propaganda and falsification campaign against Iran. The last resort, as always, is blocking, seizing or taking them down, using the flimsy legal justification.
It’s important to highlight here that Press TV came into existence as a counterweight to Western corporate propagandist media to counter and demolish their lop-sided coverage and misinformation campaign against Iran. Information war is a dangerous phenomenon invented by big powers to discredit and demoralize those countries that dare to challenge their hegemony. Iran, being the lone challenger, has borne the brunt of this war, but has always stood tall and mighty.
Press TV, and other media blocked by the US government, have been at the forefront of laying bare the crimes of US military-industrial complex in countries like Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Syria, Palestine, Libya, as well as Iran where they have been killing people through ‘economic terrorism’.
It has not faltered in its role to show how Americans destroyed a beautiful country like Iraq, how they continue to financially and militarily aid the Israeli regime in its never-ending aggression in the occupied territories of Palestine, how they are complicit in Saudi-led coalition’s horrendous war crimes in Yemen, and how they invaded Afghanistan and lost their longest-ever war to the Taliban. Press TV’s fair and brutally honest coverage has embarrassed Uncle Sam to the point of losing sanity.
Interestingly, a day before its web domain was seized by the US Department of Justice, Press TV citing "informed sources" said it has learnt that the US is "still refusing to remove anti-Iran sanctions and honor the commitments required for its return to the 2015 nuclear deal," after six marathon rounds of talks in Vienna aimed at reviving the deal.
It quoted sources close to the Vienna talks as saying that President Joe Biden was "sticking to his predecessor Donald Trump’s ‘maximum pressure’ campaign against Iran."
This disclosure again punctured the claims of US officials, who had been pretending sincerity and honesty in their approach toward Iran. True to its reputation as the voice of the voiceless, Press TV exposed Biden administration’s duplicity, sham promises and pandering to the Israeli regime. It showed that the leadership may change in Washington but the policy remains the same.
As the Leader of the Islamic Revolution Sayyed Ali Khamenei has repeatedly stressed, negotiations should not be for the sake of them, but must produce desirable results, which include removal of cruel sanctions and US return to full compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal and verification of same by Iran. Press TV is doing its job well by constantly reminding the US of Iran’s non-negotiable demands.
Seizing of web domains will not bring Iran to its knees, as crippling sanctions didn’t, as maximum pressure campaign didn’t, as freezing of assets didn’t, as propaganda and misinformation didn’t. Iran has fought many battles and has always come out on top. It won’t be any different this time. Press TV will keep fighting the good fight.
Syed Zafar Mehdi is a Tehran-based journalist editor and blogger with over 10 years of experience. He has reported extensively from Kashmir, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran for leading publications worldwide.
(The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of Press TV.)