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.
‘I accepted banishment so I could keep writing’30 June 2015
Translated by:Mehrdad Safa
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.
Not only is he a journalist, Morteza Kazemian is also known for his political activism for Nationalist-Religious Movement. He has written for now defunct reformist newspapers Jame’eh, Tus and Khordad, as well as websites affiliated with the Green Movement.
Mr. Kazemian. How long did you spend time in prison?
Well, I have been in prison three times. In March 2002, I spent about 130 days in solitary confinement and 80 days in collective cells. In December 2009, a day after bloody Ashura street protests, I was put in solitary confinement for 63 days. Major parts of interrogations were focused on my op-eds and interviews with foreign-based media.
Tell me how prison changed your view toward journalism?
The first arrest did not change my view that much. Of course, after I was freed, I could not work as freely as I used to in newspapers. But my arrest after the 2009 disputed elections, I was convinced that I could hardly be able to write anything. Interrogations were intended to prevent me from any further writing or interview.
You mean it made you disappointed with journalism?
I have never been disappointed about being a journalist. My migration from Iran means that I was banished to continue writing.
How did you feel about your profession after being arrested?
Because I had a nationalistic and humane motive for my journalism profession, my passion and moral obligation to journalism even grew further. I had a firmer belief in the importance of journalism and dissemination of information under the shadow of religious totalitarianism.
When did you leave the country?
I was freed in March 2010 and left the country in January 2011. I was wavering between staying at home and leaving the country every day in between.
How do you practice journalism outside Iran?
I used to work as a member of editorial staff for two websites. However, it’s been two years that I don’t have such close cooperation. My main work is now to write political op-eds.
You are also a political activist. Many people see you as a journalist proponent of the Green Movement. Is it in contradiction with professional journalism?
The Green Movement is the most important and authentic social movement in modern Iran. Is it possible to practice journalism without obligation to freedom, human rights, and searching for truth? Can an independent journalist be indifferent to a live movement in any way?
But how do you separate such a view from your journalistic profession? Let me put it clearly; how do you observe the principle of impartiality? I’ve tried to observe the obligation of a journalist in my profession. I don’t see the newspaper as an organization that works for the party.
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.info – Niki Azad: While most countries have strict laws against publishing photos of children in the media, Iran almost lacks any legislation over the issue.