Though it breaks my heart to follow up a post on a happy subject (storytelling) with one one on a very sad issue (the treatment of Iranian journalists), I can’t ignore what’s happening in the country of my birth. In the past few days we’ve been treated to a string of sad news items regarding this endangered species. Here’s a little round up of what’s been happening:
On Saturday January 26th two journalists are arrested. They are taken to Evin. One had already spent a year in jail following the disputed elections of 2009. It’s interesting to note they are arrested under orders of the Court of Culture and Media, a court especially established since last year to process cases against journalists and writers.
On Sunday this was followed up by ten more arrests
After the arrests two news sites and three history sites have been blocked by the authorities
The minister of Culture and Guidance (translated from double-speak that means ministry of censorship) has declared they are not arrested for journalistic work but for working for foreign anti-revolutionary media that spread, which means they are, if convicted, traitors and will receive harsh punishment.
What I find interesting is that the government does not admit to arresting reporters in an election year simply for doing their job, but has to brand them traitors working with foreign entities (in the same way homosexuals are arrested but also often get a bogus charge of raping a child so it’s less clear the government hunts homosexuals), but the government does have a special Court of Culture and Media.
Since the arrests at least one journalist has been freed since, but as we know she will probably be watched and intimidated:
If you think the intimidation and bullying of journalists is limited to those in Iran, think again. Iranian forces either hack social media pages of Iranian journalists abroad, or make fake pages carrying the names and faces of journalists they are trying to discredit. While this is not new, in the past weeks such activities have increased noticeably:
I will keep you updated on this blog about the plight of these journalists unfortunately things will only get worse, at least until the elections in June.