June 20, 2011
Iran and Cuba top the list of repressive governments that have forced 67 journalists into exile in the past 12 months, the US-based Committee to Protect Journalists said in a survey released Monday.
Iran and Cuba each sent 18 journalists, some accompanied by families, into exile, dpa reported.
CPJ released the report to mark World Refugee Day, which is held each year on June 20.
None of the 67 exiled journalists in the last 12 months have been able to return home, CPJ said. Twenty-two are from countries in the Middle East and North Africa, 19 from the Americas, 19 from Africa, six from Asia, and one from Central Asia.
The 67 journalists, who went into exile from June 1, 2010 to May 31, 2011, were documented cases so the actual number of exiled journalists could be higher, CPJ said.
Some of the journalists were forced to leave their countries immediately after their governments released them from jails, where some had contracted serious ailments, the group said. Others went into exile in order to avoid being jailed or to avoid prolonged harassment or threats of violence.
The journalists have found that life in exile can be a real challenge, both professionally and economically, the report said.
CPJ said overall there have been at least 649 journalists exiled from their countries in the past decade, with the large majority unable to return home. Nearly half of them were from Ethiopia, Iran, Somalia, Iraq and Zimbabwe.
“For hundreds of journalists, legal hurdles, language differences, and the challenges of finding work in a new country can be professionally devastating,” CPJ report said.
It said about 22 per cent of the 649 exiled reporters have been able to find media-related work. Others have had to look for jobs outside their own media professions.
Cuba’s Arroyo Carmona, is one of the 67 recently exiled journalists. Havana forced him and family members to go to Spain after his release from jail, where he was diagnosed with diabetes, hypertension and pulmonary emphysema because of unsanitary and inhumane conditions, CPJ said.
Carmona was released in July 2010, with 50 other political prisoners, including journalists, after a deal was worked out by the Catholic Church with Havana.
“I feel unstable because there is nothing for us here (in Spain),” Carmona, 59, told CPJ. “We don’t even have our professional titles. We live in limbo.”
Alireza Shabankare, 37, an Iranian writer, photographer and blogger, decided to go to Turkey after his mother warned him not to return home after reporting in Afghanistan last year. He was waiting for a visa to resettle in the United States, with the assistance of the UN refugee agency.
“All the people they arrested (in Iran), they are going to be more than six years, maybe 10 years in prison, or even executed,” Shabankare said