For journalists traveling to Iran

Dear Fellow Journalists,

We are writing to those of you who have been invited to go to Iran in February 2010 to provide media coverage to the celebrations of the anniversary of the victory of the Islamic Revolution. We are a group of Iranian journalists who have been forced to live in exile. There are many others like us around the world, 45 of whom will be in Iranian prisons when you arrive in Tehran. They will be under torturous conditions in Iranian prisons that are, as you know, among the most hideous in the world.

As imprisoned or exiled journalists our crime is nothing other than our desire to report freely on events in Iran, as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights provides.

Since the electoral coup that took place in Iran last summer, the Iranian regime has intensified its suppression of press freedom this year and along with it is striving to remove the country’s peaceful movement through sophisticated suppressive means.

After failing for eight months to achieve its goals, the illegal and fraudulent government has now prepared a new show. We have received precise information that Ahmadinejad’s electoral coup-perpetrated administration is busy preparing to muster its own crowd in Tehran through the use of all possible means and the government’s extensive resources.

Its plan is, on one hand, to prevent the pro-Green Movement million strong group from approaching the location of the celebrations in Azadi circle in Tehran where Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is scheduled to give a speech, while on the other, fill this area with pro-government demonstrators.

Inviting foreign journalists to provide media coverage of the anniversary of the 1979 revolution on February 11, 2010 is another part of the deceitful plan of Ahmadinejad’s illegal administration. As you know, this government has till now arrested many foreign journalists and accused them of being spies while banning the activities of most international media. Now, it is using them, through its invitation, so they can show the world that it is a government that enjoys popular support.

The goal of the Iranian government is to direct journalists towards the pro-government demonstrations and prevent them from going to other locale.

You are going to Iran not only as media representatives of the free world, but also as representatives of your Iranian fellow journalists who are either in prison or in exile outside Iran. Your host is a government that is anti freedom, anti free media, and one that practices the most basic human rights of people.

You will be stepping onto streets that still bear the blood of Iran’s best and the brightest. You must have seen the film that shows how Neda Soltani was murdered. This young woman is a symbol and representative of those who have been arrested, raped, tortured and murdered by Iran’s coup administration. While Neda and others like her were killed on the streets, there are hundreds of others who have been raped, tortured and murdered in dungeons, prisons or unknown places by this government.

We are providing you the names of Iranian journalists who are now in prison, based on the list prepared by Reporters Without Borders and request that you search for them and find them. Ask them and their prison wardens why are they in prison.

As you go to our country that is under a dictatorship not to be duped by the schemes of those who murder freedom.

We draw your attention to these points:

* Demonstrations will begin on the night of [before?] February 11. The Allaho Akbar cries that will fill the night in Iranian towns will be the cries of people’s protests and the start of the march of million green Iranians who will fill the streets at the invitation of Mohammad Khatami, Mir-Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karoubi.

* The main march will start from Enghelab street in east Tehran — go through Imam Hossein Circle — and end at Azadi Circle in west Tehran. The Passdaran Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) has already made plans to close the streets leading to Enghelab street and to crackdown people as a measure to prevent them from taking to these streets. The Green Movement should be visible around this route and all over Tehran and not only on the paths that pro-government demonstrators will be provided.

Like on other similar occasions, the coup government will attempt to control all the paths so that the only people that will come in view of your cameras will be the Basijis, who will present a caricature of the Iranian nation for your television cameras.

You will hear the protesting voice of the Iranian people clearer than ever if you look beyond the fences, cordons, and barriers and look at the real people of Iran.

We are confident that you will push aside the bloody hands of the coup perpetrators and that you will shake the hands of the suffered people of Iran. You are going to a historic trip. We will see you off with our hearts filled with dreams of freedom and eyes filled with tears.

We look forward to seeing the leading media headline in February 2010 be: “The Victory of a Nation”.

Do not be fooled by the deceptions of your hosts, look at everything that is worth looking at, expose their shows, and listen to the true calls of the Iranian people. And on this historic trip relay and report the innocence of the Iranian people. This is the expectation that your suffering fellow journalists have of you.

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