Over the past two weeks, since Iran’s disputed June 12th Presidential election, the number of visitors from Iran to the VOANewsBlog has surged to new heights. Despite heavy internet filtering by Iranian authorities, several hundred visits have been recorded from inside Iran – most of them from Tehran-based servers but also from 30 other locations in the country, including the holy city of Qom, home to some of Iran’s main religious leaders. Visits from Iran now exceed those from all other countries.
We view this as further evidence of the hunger of Iranians for news about developments in their own country. While the NewsBlog’s contributions have been limited, VOA’s main website and its Persian language site are also reporting record numbers of visits.Iranians are doing more than just visiting websites like ours. They are also sending thousands of emails, still photos and videos – many of which are being used in VOA programming. Iranian officials have denounced those who are sending out information and images to news organizations outside the country as foreign agents.
But the flow of information from what we call “citizen journalists” and others in Iran is unabated. Iranian officials have been trying to block the transmissions of VOA and other broadcasters from getting back into Iran – a technique known as jamming. We have been trying to stay ahead of this by increasing the number of satellites and frequencies we use.
Why is this so important? It’s simple. Here are the words of one Iranian who called us:
“Me and my family need your broadcasts to find out what is going on in our country. It is very important and we do not know what is going on without you.”