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EU Wages War on Free Expression | THE JEENYUS CORNER


By Stephen Lendman, Contributor

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 diktats – 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.”

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