Khabarnegaran.info-Niki Azad: Local journalist Mahdieh Amiri speaks of the hardships of practicing journalism in the southern Iranian province of Bushehr. Amiri has been working as a journalist in Bushehr for years. Since 2007, she has been the editor-in-chief of a few local websites, biweekly and quarterly magazines. She is now the editor-in-chief of hamooniran.com website and Ava-ye Dashtestan biweekly.
Iranian journalists in one year of president Rohani’s tenure20 September 2014
Translated by: Hanaa Jam
It’s been a year since Hasan Rohani became president of Iran. His campaign slogan which was “prudence and hope” made many people including journalists hopeful. But during last year there was no news about freedom of journalists who are currently in jail and nor a promise about reopening of Association of Iranian Journalists. It’s still an alarming situation for journalists in Iran and it’s still one of the five major prisons for media workers in the world.
Reopening of Association of Iranian Journalists; a promise Rohani didn’t keep
A year ago when Hasan Rohani became president of Iran, in a respond to a question in one of his first press conferences he made promise to reopen the Association of Iranian Journalists, he said:” I would reactive not only that association but all the other ones, because the associations are the key of soling society’s problems, so I would do my best on that road.”
Association of Iranian Journalists was Iran’s journalists association which was founded in October 1997, when Seyed Mohammad Khatami became the president of Iran, but in June 24, 2008 it got close by the court order. The reason was “undetermined establishment”.
Stories of Association of Iranian Journalists were one of the fuzziest news during. In March 26 March 2014 some right party medias wrote a letter signed by 1280 so called reporters and journalists to Hasan Rohani in which they asked him to prevent reopening of this association.
On Monday march 17 ,2014 , Mashalah Shamsolvaezin a member of association’s board of direction and a member of association of defending press freedom respond in a reaction to this letter:” be sure that a journalist won’t say to close his/her union , I’m absolutely certain that these people aren’t journalists .”
Following continued until the latest press conference of Hasan Rohani in Sunday August 31, 2014 and this question was repeated and Rohani said: ” the state must cooperate with other forces in some fields .we have to decide together and cooperate as well. Sometimes it might take a while to reach an agreement but we are following the matter. We didn’t forget promises we gave to people or associations or groups.”
Internment of Medias and journalists in prison
Hasan Rohani started his tenure with the slogan of “Prudence and Hope” and many journalists wished to see their colleagues out of prison, but those who were detained after 2009 incidents and even if a journalist got out of jail it was because s/he has completed his/her sentence and there’s no news about journalists who are currently in prison. Even a few journalists who were government’s supporters got arrested and went to jail in past months.
According to overseas reports, Iran is one of the 5 major prisons in the world for media activists, with 64 journalists and blogger in jail and also 8 women detained right now is biggest prison for journalist and blogger women in the world.
Media freedom or Media restriction?
During last year many things happened in press and news websites and some restrictions occurred but press deputy made no comment or reaction about them. While increasing freedom in medias in law framework and supporting journalists are 2 main plans which deputy of press in ministry of culture has stated but most of the time, about media’s internment this department preferred silence.
Bahar newspaper was the first paper to be arrested right after Hasan Rohani started as the president of Iran. This paper was close in November 2013 by Press Supervision Committee. At the same time Aseman and Ghanoon Papers got arrested directly by court.
But during this time other papers like “Yalesarat” and “9 Dey” which are radical and right hand papers got closed as well but they could restart working after a little while.
During last year, apart from interments, some other papers such as Khabar, Tehran Emrooz and Tabnak stopped publishing because of financial problems and others like Neshat and Ham-Mihan preferred not to print because of pressure they were facing from other groups and some legal issues.
Also during last year we were witnessing many arrests, Saba AzarPeyk, Serajoddin Mirdamadi , Marzieh Rasouli , Reyhaneh Tabatabii, Sajedeh Arab Sorkhi , and some other bloggers. Even though there were some journalist who came out of prison but this freedom was because they have completed their sentence, while many were hoping freedom in Rohani state.
Khabarnegaran.info-Niki Azad: How is life for Iranian journalists after prison? Does their attitude toward their journalism – the profession that put them in jail – change? Are they more conservative than before? Or bolder?
Khabarnegaran – Niki Azad: He has been put in jail three times for his journalist writing, though he says that jail has not made him feel disappointed with the profession of journalism.