130 media figures demand ‘release of all journalists’

Close to 130 Iranian journalists have called on the judiciary chief as well as the speaker of parliament to take action against the on-going repression of journalists in the country.

In a letter to brothers Ali and Sadegh Larijani, the journalists expressed their awe and outrage at the authorities’ ineptitude in dealing with massive corruption scandals on the one hand, and their heavy-handed suppression of peaceful and legal dissent on the other.

The letter highlights the recent imprisonment of journalists Mahsa Amrabadi and Reza Ansari-Rad, as well as a flogging sentence handed down to cartoonist Mahmoud Shokraiyeh for having depicted a member of parliament.

“Precisely at a time when the [main] suspect in the [detainee abuse scandal at] Kahrizak detention centre [Saeed Mortazavi] is promoted, and the forces under your authority turn a blind eye to the accusations against him, Iranian journalists are, one by one, imprisoned, defamed and even physically abused.”

During the unrest that followed Iran’s 2009 presidential election, Saeed Mortazavi, Tehran’s then Chief Prosecutor, was implicated in the torture and murder of protesters held at the notorious Kahrizak detention centre.

Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei ordered the closure of the centre and Mortazavi was later removed from his position. However, he returned to the spotlight when he was recently appointed as Iran’s Social Security Organisation. He was later forced to resign after MPs threatened to impeach the Minister of Labour, Cooperatives and Social Welfare over the appointment.

“According to which form of reasoning must a cartoonist be condemned to 25 lashes for the mere crime of drawing a few lines on a piece of paper,” the journalists asked the Larijani brothers.

They said that while “the main suspects and culprits in the multi-billion dollar embezzlement” enjoyed the right to continue freely with their extravagant lifestyles, Mahsa Amrabadi, Reza Ansari-Rad and other Iranian newspaper were being jailed “for the sole crime of writing.”

Last week, journalist Mahsa Amrabadi was summoned to serve out a one-year sentence in Evin prison. She is the wife of imprisoned journalist Masoud Bastani. The couple were arrested in the aftermath of the widely disputed 2009 presidential election. While Amrabadi was released after spending more than two months in prison, her husband has not yet been granted furlough since his arrest in July 2009. He is currently serving a six-year jail term in Rejaee Shahr prison in the city of Karaj.

“Doesn’t the image of the Islamic Republic [of Iran] as the world’s greatest jailer of journalists … trouble you?” they asked the Larijanis. “We call for a release of journalists in Iranian jails.”

“We call for an end to the flogging; we call for an end to all forms of lawlessness, injustice and disrespect towards those who hold the pen. We call for the implementation of the law. We seek respect for the pen.”

According to a December 2011 report by the Committee to Protect Journalists, Iran is officially the worst jailer of journalists. “Iran was the world’s worst jailer, with 42 journalists behind bars, as authorities kept up a campaign of anti-press intimidation that began after the country’s disputed presidential election more than two years ago,” CPJ stated.

Source: irangreenvoice

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