EU Wages War on Free Expression
by Stephen Lendman
Free expression in all forms is fundamental. Without it, all other freedoms are at risk. Included are free speech, thought, culture, intellectual inquiry, and press freedom.
Denial risks tyranny. Voltaire said, “I may disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” Howard Zinn called dissent “the highest form of patriotism.”
Jefferson said, “The only security of all is in a free press.” He added that it “cannot be limited without being lost.” George Washington said, “If the freedom of speech is taken away, then dumb and silent we may be led like sheep to the slaughter.”
Twenty-seven EU nations disagreed. Brandishing their Nobel award like a sword, they blocked 19 Iranian television and radio stations. European satellite provider Eutelsat sold its soul. It went along. It agreed to silence them across Europe.
A statement said, “We terminated the contracts because it was the order of the European Commission. We have to follow.”
No one is obligated to obey illegal dictates – no individual, organization, business, or nation. Doing so makes them complicit.
Months of on and off jamming preceded Monday’s announcement.
Eutelsat’s own charter obligates it to “adher(e) to the principle of non-discrimination and fair competition in defining its strategy and carrying out its operations.”
In 2008, Philippe McAllister, its Paris-based general counsel, cited international law. He stressed the 1948 Universal Declaration on Human Rights. (N)ow sixty years old,” he said, it “enshrines the principle of freedom of speech.”
He quoted Article 19 of the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), saying:
“Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing, or in print, in the form of art or through any other media of his choice.”
On December 10, 1982, he said, a UN plenary meeting “adopted Principles governing the use by states of Artificial Earth satellites for international direct TV Broadcasting. According to Article 1 of these Principles:”
“Activities in the field of international direct television broadcasting by satellite should be carried out in a manner compatible with the sovereign rights of states, including the principle of non- intervention, as well as with the right of everyone to seek, receive and impart information and ideas as enshrined in the relevant United Nations instruments.”
“At least in France,” he added, courts affirm these rights. It’s up to individual states to enforce them.
Free speech defenders will long remember October 15, 2012. It’s another EU day of infamy. It’s hard keeping track. Many others infest its six-decade record.
Free expression in all forms is inviolable. International law affirms it. EU nations spurned what they’re obligated to protect and enforce. Press TV said they don’t “respect freedom of expression. (Their action) mute(s) all alternative news outlets representing the voice of the voiceless.”
Western media either reported what happened nonchalantly or expressed support. The Wall Street Journal headlined “A Top Satellite Provider Cuts Off Iran State Broadcaster,” saying:
Eutelsat “said it stopped broadcasting the Iranian channels in light of European sanctions approved in March and a French regulatory decision.”
“Though Eutelsat’s decision to remove Iran’s government-owned channels isn’t related to the nuclear standoff, the move serves to isolate the Islamist Republic further.”
So-called “Iranian human-rights organizations and opposition activists praised Eutelsat’s decision. For years, rights groups have lobbied satellite companies to drop Iran’s government channels, charging that they were propaganda tools of the regime and tools of repression and fear.”
The Journal quoted New York-based International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran (ICHRI) head Hadi Ghaemi saying:
“The most important aspect of this decision is to recognize that IRIB (Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting) is an integral arm of the Iranian intelligence and security services. There was no justification for providing services.”
Ghaemi serves US interests. ICHRI is part of the Dutch Foundation for Human Rights in Iran. Ghaemi formerly served on the National Iranian American Council’s board. It’s gotten over a quarter million dollars in National Endowment for Democracy (NED) funding.
NED is a State Department foreign policy/propaganda tool. Ghaemi’s hands are dirty. So are other Iranian dissidents. They get US and other Western support. They’re paid to help destabilize Iran.
ICHRI admits it gets private foundation funding. Expect some of the usual suspects to be donating. They want Iran isolated and suffocated. They support regime change. They also want alternative media voices blocked.
Truth exposes their war on humanity agenda. Silencing it is prioritized. Press TV is Iran’s 24-hour English language news service. It’s broadcast to most parts of the world by satellite, cable or online.
Its US presence is limited through intermediary companies. Major cable operators Comcast and Time Warner exclude it from their lineups. So do media conglomerates Disney, Viacom and Fox.
Britain’s BBC is used for propaganda. It’s an imperial tool. Throughout its history, it suppressed information, commentaries and analysis critical of government policies.
America’s state/corporate-controlled National Public Radio and Public Broadcasting long ago were corrupted. They’re shameless media sources.
Like Russia Today and Voice of Russia, Press TV airs diverse discussions and opinions. Major global issues are covered. Above all, they report important truths everyone needs to know
This writer is proud to be a frequent guest. Independent voices are free to speak openly on many topics. Distinguished writers, authors, academics and global analysts appear regularly.
Western media exclude them for good reason. Alternative voices are blocked. So are truth and full disclosure.
In August 2011, UK Prime Minister Cameron targeted free expression. He took aim at social network sites. He called for monitoring and perhaps censoring them. He wants dissident voices silenced.
Last October 12, Britain’s Office of Communications (Ofcom) banned Press TV. Allegedly it was for noncompliance with UK law. In fact, it was brazen censorship. It was about silencing a vital source for news, information and analysis.
At the time, Press TV said Ofcom bowed to government and royal family pressure. Doing so violates UK media law. In May 2011, Ofcom said Press TV breached rules “by airing a 10 second extract from an interview with Iranian-born Canadian journalist Maziar Bahari while (detained) in an Iranian prison.”
WikiLeaks documents revealed that Britain’s Foreign Office told Washington’s London embassy that it was “exploring ways to limit (Press TV’s) operations….”
On October 15, Eutelsat blocked them across Europe. In response, Press TV said it launched a Facebook petition to help restore its European operations.
It called silencing them “a blatant violation of freedom of speech.” The decision followed “months of jamming of Iranian channels by European satellite companies.”
They supply real news and information. They’re an antidote to poisonous Western propaganda. Eutselsat acted illegally. It wants truth and full disclosure silenced.
“Press TV calls on its supporters to join the campaign and back the news channel by liking the petition and leaving comments at the following address in order to protect the free speech in Europe:”
Protecting its important voice is vital. Orwell called truth “a revolutionary act” in times of “universal deceit.” It’s also endangered. Dark forces want it silenced. They want their message alone getting out.
In today’s climate of permanent wars, corporate predation, and state-sponsored fear, it’s up to ordinary people to defend rights too important to lose. Without free expression, everything else is lost.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book is titled “How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War”
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.