The March 18th Movement, which has recently been set up, was done so in memory of Omid Reza Mir Sayaf, who died in the Iranian Evin prison on that very date. It has the tagline ‘Let the first blogger to die in prison be the last’. It was began by amid Tehrani. He (of Global Voices Online), Esra’a Al Shafei (of Middle East Youth) and Curt Hopkins (of the Committee to Protect Bloggers).
They detail the vision of the March 18th Movement:
“First among the principals of the March 18 Movement is a belief in the inviolacy of life. Bloggers should not be killed, neither by execution nor neglect, for what they have written. Secondly, we believe in free speech as a human right, not a function of culture or politics, and believe it to be a necessity for building and maintaining functional societies. We believe bloggers and non-specialist practitioners of other social media should be accorded the respect and support that activists, opposition politicians and journalists get from both their own countries and from the world at large.”
It’s in its early stages yet but it deserves all the help, luck and attention it can get. The last sentence – that bloggers should get the same respect and support that professionals do – is demonstrative of how important these writers feel their roles, in their societies, are. Should non-professional journalists however, be treated in the same way as those who are deemed as professionals? When campaigning for press freedom in the Middle East and elsewhere, should we be promoting not only the rights of pan-Arabic television stations to broadcast any footage but also the right of a community blogger to write about local corruption?