By Russia Today
Authorities in Tehran slammed the EU over its gagging of 19 Iranian satellite channels which coincided with the latest round of sanctions, one of the toughest yet. The shutdown is a big attack on freedom of speech, analyst Chris Bamberry told RT.
France’s Eutelsat and UK’s Arqiva satellite providers made a decision to stop broadcasting the Iranian state TV channels on Monday.
The news outlets that were blocked included Press TV in English and Al-Alam in Arabic.
The shutdown came shortly after the European Union imposed fresh sanctions against Iran including an embargo on the import of the country’s natural gas.
Mohammed Sarafraz, vice-president of the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB), has slammed the decision to stop broadcasting the 19 channels as “political”.
He told the Business Recorder that “the contract was still valid, and Eutelsat broke the contract between us unilaterally and without legal justification,” adding that IRIB lawyers were planning to launch a formal complaint.
Press TV says that in a separate statement emailed to them, Arqiva said that the decision was made by the EU Council.
“We terminated the contracts because it was the order of the European Commission. We have to follow it,” Karen Badalov, area management of Eutelsat SA, reportedly told Press TV.
‘Snuffing out’ alternative view on Iran
Speaking to RT, political analyst Chris Bamberry said that the EU’s move is basically a major blow to freedom of speech.
RT: The fresh sanctions don’t target the media, so why this ban on Iranian broadcasters, and why now?
Chris Bamberry: I think you don’t have to be a conspiracy theorist to think that by banning Iranian media, 19 TV and radio stations from access to Europe, it does look like you further step to the military intervention against Iran, given it happens on the same day that the EU imposes further sanctions on Iran, and against a background of a continuing military buildup by America with its British and French allies in the Persian Gulf. And the siren calls from Tel Aviv for America’s action against Iran.
Therefore, it seems to me a further ramping-up of this, and the decision to withdraw access was taken not just by private satellite companies but, as the Iranians were told, by the European Council of Foreign Ministers, at the highest level – perhaps by the European Commission. The European parliament has no powers to overturn this decision.
It seems to me a significant attack on freedom of speech. What they’re trying to do is snuff out an alternative view on Iran being offered to people in Europe, as opposed to a view that is force-fed, which is that Iran is a terror state, which is out of control and a danger. And of course we’re also going to be denied the fact that Iran is offering concessions and compromising all the nuclear issue. Not quite as it’s painted by the West.
RT: So why is it being ignored that Iran is offering concessions, that they’re actually saying, “We will be flexible now in these nuclear talks.” You talk about the military buildup, about the sanctions continuing – why are all those gestures being ignored then?
CB: I think that Americans have got a regime change in Iran in their minds. I don’t think that they will take any military action due to the presidential election, but I don’t think we can underestimate the hatred the Americans have for the Islamic Republic of Iran, as a consequence of the 1979 revolution, the overthrow of the Shah, their key ally in the Middle East; the seizure of the embassy, the CIA headquarters was in Tehran, and the hostage crisis was a humiliation for the Americans. So I think you can’t underestimate the determination of the Americans to get revenge on Iran. The constant buildup going ahead in the Persian Gulf is an excellent way for this to be happening!
RT: You’d think the impetus of that regime change come from within the country. And yet we’ve seen anti-American and pro-nuclear rallies in Iran lately. Experts say there are traditional pro-Western middle class turning on to Washington. So this is where we could see it all backfiring, isn’t it?
CB: I think it happens because the West, as usual, do not look into their own history. And look at how Iranians see the West. In 1953, there was a coup orchestrated by the British to overthrow a democratically-elected government in Iran, which had the temerity to nationalize the Anglo-American oil companies in the country. They remember the Shah of Iran was installed by the British and Americans. They remember the torture and the repression under the Shah, [who] was backed by the British and Americans. They remember that the Shah was encouraged to have a nuclear program! It was allowed under the Shah, but not now. And the Iranian nationalism is that Iranians don’t like being told that they can’t do something by former colonial powers. And therefore, it has become a touchstone for national pride. Even among those who aren’t enthusiastic about Ahmadinejad regime.
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