Friday , 8 December 2023

Two Jailed Iranian Journalists Awarded Golden Pen of Freedom

Iranwire – Elahe Mohammadi and Niloofar Hamedi, two journalists jailed in Iran over their coverage of Mahsa Amini’s death, have been awarded the World Association of News Publishers’ 2023 Golden Pen of Freedom.

The 22-year-old Amini died while in police custody in September last year after she had been detained for allegedly flouting the Islamic Republic’s strict headscarf rules. Her death sparked months of nationwide protests against Iran’s clerical establishment.

The security forces cracked down hard on the women-led protest movement, killing more than 520 people during demonstrations and unlawfully detaining over 20,000 others, including dozens of journalists, activists say. Following biased trials, the judiciary has handed down stiff sentences, including the death penalty, to protesters.

Martha Ramos, president of the World Editors Forum, announced the 2023 Golden Pen of Freedom award on June 28, during the 2023 World News Media Congress in Taipei, Taiwan, saying it recognizes the bravery and determination “of two courageous young women whose journalism kept sight of truth as the Iranian regime attempted to rewrite history.”

“What both women were doing is precisely their job as journalists,” Ramos said. “The Iranian people will not remain in a state of denial or servitude to tyrants, totalitarians and those who deny basic human dignity.” 

The Golden Pen of Freedom recognizes individuals or organizations that have made an outstanding contribution to the defense and promotion of press freedom. 

Mohammadi and Hamedi went on trial last month on charges including collaborating with the “hostile” government of the United States, colluding to commit crimes against national security, and engaging in propaganda activities against the regime. The charges could carry the death penalty.

Human rights groups and media freedom watchdogs have condemned the arrest and prosecution of Mohammadi and Hamedi, as well as the Islamic Republic’s ongoing clampdown on dissent and the media.