Imprisoned Journalists in Great Danger
Tuesday 11 May 2010
View online : Reportest Without Borders
Last weekend’s execution of five political activists in Tehran’s Evin prison has heightened the concern that Reporters Without Borders feels about the fate of the many journalists still detained in Iran.
“Arbitrarily arrested and then given unfair trials or still awaiting trial, these journalists are being denied medical treatment and most of them are still in solitary confinement,” Reporters Without Borders said. “The journalists who have been released conditionally continue to be harassed by the police, summoned for questioning or threatened by telephone. The repression is not letting up.”
The press freedom organisation added: “The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights cannot remain silent any longer. A special UN rapporteur must be sent to Iran as a matter of urgency.”
The health of the detained journalists continues to deteriorate. Five of them, Emadoldin Baghi, Badrolssadat Mofidi, Mahbobeh Karami, Said Matinepour and Hanghameh Shahidi, urgently need treatment (http://en.rsf.org/iran-several-journalists-held-in-evin-01-04-2010,36914.html). Their families say the intelligence ministry and Revolutionary Guards refuse to allow sick journalists to be hospitalised even when prison doctors recommend it. Some journalists have been moved to other prisons.
At the same time, the intelligence ministry has been summoning all of the country’s journalists for the past two weeks and asking them to undertake in writing not to take part in protests on 12 June, the first anniversary of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s reelection, or to cover or provide any information about the protests that may take place.
The situation of journalists has worsened steadily since June 2009 with more than 20 newspapers closed and as many websites blocked. More than 3,000 journalists are currently out of work, in many cases because newspaper editors are either under direct pressure from the authorities or because they are afraid to hire people who have worked for pro-reform newspapers or who have been jailed.
“Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran’s two Predators of Press Freedom (http://en.rsf.org/predator-ali-khamenei,37209.html and http://en.rsf.org/predator-mahmoud-ahmadinejad,37210.html), have established a regime of terror, stripping an entire country of its journalists and depriving Iranians of their right to know what is going on,” Reporters Without Borders said.
The latest journalist to receive a jail sentence is Henghameh Shahidi. She was sentenced on 8 May to six years on prison on charges of anti-government propaganda, participating in illegal demonstrations and activities against national security.