Over the last few days, ARTICLE 19 and Mahsa Alimardani, a Senior Researcher for the organisation, have faced false accusations of being behind the suspensions of social media accounts belonging to activists who oppose the Islamic Republic of Iran. The accusations are entirely baseless.
Contrary to the misinformation being amplified online, ARTICLE 19 has appealed to Twitter to reinstate some of the accounts that have been suspended. Furthermore, ARTICLE 19 strongly condemns the smearing of a valued human rights defender and colleague.
We wish therefore to correct the misinformation posted on certain accounts as follows:
- ARTICLE 19 and Mahsa Alimardani have no connection with the suspension of any social media accounts, or with the blocking of people’s right to speak out or share opinions and views.
- When ARTICLE 19 has asked for restrictions on expression, it has been for harmful content promoted by the Islamic Republic such as the hashtag ‘do execute’ or videos of torture and forced confessions of arrested protesters, following international human rights standards on harmful content using the six-part test of the Rabaat Plan of Action.
- The organisation and its Middle East and North Africa (MENA) team have been committed to defending the freedom of expression of Iranians for decades.
- Since the current popular uprising began in September 2022 following and in response to the murder of Jhina (Mahsa) Amini, Mahsa Alimardani and colleagues have worked tirelessly to protect and promote the rights of Iranians, including opposition activists and protesters.
- The organisation does not have access to information about which individuals or organisations are behind the closure of the recent wave of suspensions and limitations on opposition activists’ Twitter accounts. Twitter must be held answerable for such actions.
- Since 23 March 2023, when our MENA team became aware of these suspensions, they have been investigating what has happened through contacts at Twitter, and explicitly requested the accounts be reinstated. Screenshots of our correspondence on this matter can be viewed below.
ARTICLE 19 urges those responsible for these false accusations to refrain from spreading further ill-informed judgments. The ongoing uprising in Iran requires solidarity among the diverse communities of activists rather than internalised hostility. Advocating for Iranians, including Iranians in the diaspora, to achieve fundamental freedoms must be our first priority, not amplifying falsehoods against those working to guarantee the freedoms we cherish.
Samples of emails that were sent to Twitter on this issue follow: