Sonntag, Dezember 11, 2005


Free Access to Information
Members of the Civil Society Bureau of the WSIS,

We, the undersigned, representing civil society organizations in Iran, women's organizations, webloggers, technical professionals, human rights organizations, academics, professionals, and concerned citizens, would like to express our serious concern and strongly object to the policy of filtering, censorship and blocking of information on the Internet in Iran, particularly information related to women's issues and gender.

The policy of filtering of information on the internet in Iran has taken on an extreme form in recent months. Of particular concern is the fact that most sites containing information about women and gender and related URLs have been blocked by Internet Connection Providers (ICPs) and Internet Service Providers (ISPs), due to orders by the judiciary and other governmental authorities. The problem is so severe in fact, that the term women and gender cannot be searched, and sites with information on women's health, education, violence against women, gender issues, including UNIFEM's site have been closed by almost all providers.

It should be noted that the Iranian government has signed the Declaration and Action Plan of the Governmental Summit of the WSIS in December 2003 and as such has committed itself to implementing the WSIS Action Plan, which includes as one of its main areas, access to information on the internet.

We feel strongly that this policy, which is largely implemented through a decentralized approach of governmental directives targeting individual ICPs and ISPs, is damaging to women and their human rights, and is not inline with universal concepts of free speech. This policy also negatively impacts professionals working with women, including health and education professionals, academia, non-governmental organizations and civil society in general and limits their capacity to access important information relevant to their work. Additionally, this policy demonstrates an attempt to politicize women's social concerns and marginalize their needs and demands.

We ask the WSIS Secretariat and the Civil Society Bureau of the WSIS to follow-up with Iranian authorities about filtering and blocking of information on the Internet in Iran, but especially information on women and to demand that the Iranian government to live up to its commitments with respect to the WSIS Action Plan.

have read the Protest against Filtering of Informtion on Women in Iran Petition to Free Access to Information, and I hereby sign the petition: