ICTRC Support Letter
To: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, President of the Islamic Republic of Iran
Closure of ICTRC offices contravenes commitments the Iranian authorities have themselves made to support growth of the Internet in civil society
May 2, 2007
On March 15, intelligence forces raided the offices of ICTRC in Tehran, searched the premises and confiscated records and computers, and sealed two offices, the headquarters of the organization, and an ICT center. The authorities also blocked the ICTRC's bank accounts on the same day. The officials refused to provide any legal justification or accusations for their act.
We call upon the Iranian authorities to honor their commitments made in various international forums, including at WSIS, with regard to freedom of expression and the rights and roles of civil society, by allowing ICTRC to carry on its lawful activities, and abandoning any further actions against them, while rescinding all earlier actions that prevent it from carry on its lawful activities.
ICTRC (Iran's Civil Society Organizations Training and Research Center), an Iranian civil society organization also known in Iran as Koneshgaran Davtalab, is a member to the Civil Society Bureau of the World Summit on Information Society (WSIS) and the WSIS focal point for CSOs in West Asia and Middle East region.
ICTRC was present at both WSIS 1 in Geneva 2003 and WSIS 2 in Tunis 2005 as the accredited representative of Iranian civil society, with the full knowledge and consent of the Iranian authorities.
Iran has been an active and respected participant at all stages of the World Summit on Information Society (WSIS) from its inception in Geneva in 2003. Iran is also a member to the UN CSTD that is in charge of the system wide follow-up to WSIS, based on a multi-stakeholder approach. ICTRC’s activities have complied with the Iranian government commitments under WSIS and CSTD. Therefore, the closure of ICTRC is in full contradiction with the obligations the Iranian government has freely committed to:
The WSIS General Statement of Principles, which Iran signed, states in paragraph 17: “We recognize that building an inclusive Information Society requires new forms of solidarity, partnership and cooperation among governments and other stakeholders, i.e. the private sector, civil society and international organizations.”
Paragraph 20 states: “Governments, as well as private sector, civil society and the United Nations and other international organizations have an important role and responsibility in the development of the Information Society and, as appropriate, in decision-making processes. Building a people-centered Information Society is a joint effort which requires cooperation and partnership among all stakeholders.”
Paragraph 49 states: “Civil society has also played an important role in Internet-related matters, especially at community level, and should continue to play such a role.”
Ahead of the second WSIS summit in 2005, Iran actually hosted a conference for over 30 governments from the Asia region in which it reaffirmed its commitment to the Geneva principles and talked of “recognizing the vital role of partnerships between and among governments, the private sector, civil society from developing and developed countries and regional and international organizations.”
Again, the Tunis declaration issued at the end of the 2005 Summit, in which the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran participated fully, restated the commitment to working with civil society in several clauses (paragraphs 9 and 37).
Thus not only have the authorities of the Islamic Republic of Iran repeatedly proclaimed their commitment, before international fora and the United Nations agencies, to the principle of engaging civil society in growth of the use of the Internet, they have specifically been aware of and approved ICTRC’s actions in this regard.
AFNeT - Association Francophone des utilisateurs du Net, de l’e-Business et de la Société en Réseau
APC - Association for Progressive Communications
Nyangkwe Agien Aaron
ASAFE - Association pour le Soutien et l'Appui à la Femme Entrepreneur
Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility
CSDPTT - Coopération Solidarité Développement aux PTT, Paris, France
Civil Society Working Group on Financing
Foundation for Media Alternatives
Indigenous ICT Task Force
IRIS (Imaginons un réseau Internet solidaire), France - www.iris.sgdg.org
Parminder Jeet Singh
IT for Change, Bangalore, India
Carlos A. Afonso
Rits (Information Network for the Third Sector), Rio, Brazil
WTIS - World Tour on the Information Society
CS Working Group on Scientific Information
NGO Program Officer, Geneva, Switzerland
Centre for Community Informatics Research, Development and Training
Country Director, Pact Mongolia
University of Aarhus
Last modified December 28, 2007 09:16 AM