More Journalists in Iranian jails than rest of Mideast
Reporters Sans Frontieres
January 24, 2001
Iran is now the Middle East country keeping the most journalists in
prison. Reporters Without Borders is launching a campaign to bring the
facts to public attention.
Ten Iranian journalists are currently in jail. The sentences passed
on them range from four months to ten years. Two other journalists have
been sentenced in their absence to four and nine years' imprisonment, but
have not yet been arrested.
The charges brought by the Iranian courts ("anti-Islamic propaganda"
and "activities against national security") in no way justify
such heavy sentences against these journalists, who were doing no more
than exercise their freedom to inform the public.
Reporters Without Borders (RWB) points out that the jailing of the ten
journalists contravenes article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil
and Political Rights, which Iran has ratified. Their imprisonment is also
a violation of the most basic respect for human rights.
Our organisation calls for the release of these ten journalists and
asks the Iranian authorities to repeal the law approved on 17 April 2000
which strengthened penalties against the media.
RWB is launching an action campaign to condemn the practices of Iranian
conservatives and to remind the public that the Spiritual Guide of the
Islamic Republic of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, is one of the world's
22 worst enemies of press freedom. We invite media in other countries to
join our campaign by:
- Sending a letter calling for the journalists' release to the Iranian
embassy in their own country.
- Asking their readers, listeners and viewers to sign an online petition
calling for the jailed journalists to be freed. The petition is on our
web site at www.rsf.fr
Meanwhile, RWB is asking newspapers to publish, free of charge, an advertising
campaign devised by the Alice agency. Web sites will be offered an online
version of the campaign.
The advertisements show Ali Khamenei's face along with the message:
"Ali Khamenei, Spiritual Guide of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Ali
Khamenei is supposed to guide the Iranian people. Perhaps Ali Khamenei
could stop guiding Iranian journalists into prison?
"Since April 2000, ten Iranian journalists have been sentenced
to prison terms ranging from four months to ten years. They are Ali Afsahi,
Emadoldin Baghi, Mashallah Shamsolvaezin, Morteza Firouzi, Akbar Ganji,
Abdollah Nouri, Latif Safari, Ezatollah Sahabi, Hassan Youssefi Echkevari,
et Ahmad Zeid-Abadi. Give them your support by signing the petition on
The campaign is being launched in English, German, Spanish, French and