Sunday , 2 April 2023

“They Were Doing Their Jobs”: Calls Grow for Journalists and Activists to be Released

Iranwire – The Association of Iranian Journalists has called for the immediate release of journalists detained while reporting on the protests across Iran, which have entered their ninth day and continue to spread.

“Our colleagues have been arrested or summoned while carrying out their professional duties,” the Association’s Tehran Province chapter said in a statement, adding that the homes of journalists had also been searched. The arrested had been specifically given assignments to report on the death of Mahsa Amini and its aftermath, so the arrests were entirely unjust and violated media workers’ rights to go about their professional lives safely and without fear of punishment.

The Association added that journalists had a professional duty to play their essential role of covering the news in a decent and impartial manner.

Vida Rabbani, a journalist who has been prosecuted several times in the past years, was also arrested on September 23. She tweeted that she had been sentenced to five years in prison. Two-fifths of this sentence was suspended for five years.

The Association expressed alarm that, as protests had grown and intensified across the country, media workers were facing increasing pressure while trying to report developments to the public.

“We emphasize again that, from a professional point of view, there is no difference between coverage of public or limited protests and the news of an earthquake, flood, the opening of a dam or a factory, the publication of divorce statistics, or a report of a murder.”

The statement insisted that the duties of journalism “go beyond political trends and interests, just as the duty of a doctor is to treat their patient, regardless of their or their patient’s beliefs and tendencies.”

Preventing journalists from pursuing their mission discredits Iran’s entire media establishment, the statement added. Journalists who had been arrested in recent days had been doing their job and their duty, the statement said, by reporting on the death of Mahsa Amini and the protests that have since followed.

“They were doing their jobs,” the Association said, adding that the media should not be restricted through “illegal” means.

Journalists who have been for publishing news related to Mahsa Amini’s death, and the protests, so far include Niloufar Hamedi, Rouhollah Nakhaei, Fatemeh Rajabi, Alireza Khoshbakht, Mojtabi Rahimi, Vida Rabbani, Elaheh Mohammadi, Elnaz Mohammadi, Hamed Shafi’i.

IranWire also understands that security forces are not only targeting journalists but also activists, and that Sajjad Ramzanzadeh, the 23-year-old brother of activist Reza Ramzanzadeh, was arrested on his way home from work on the evening of Friday, September 23.

Lawyer Mohammad Ali Kamfirouzi reported that his client Maedeh Delbari, the former secretary of the Islamic Association at Al-Zahra University, has also been detained. Posting on Twitter, he said Delbari had been summoned by phone on September 23 to report to the Ministry of Intelligence earlier today. Delbari reported to the Ministry on where intelligence officers then arrested him.

Security forces also arrested student and civic activists Nagin Aramesh and Ramtin Movasagh at their homes on Friday night.

IranWire’s source added that Maedeh Jamal Livani, an undergraduate student at Noshirvani University in Babol, was arrested at the entrance of a university dormitory.