Regime cuts down newspapers

2010/03/02

Published in German daily “Tageszeitung” on March 2 2010
Source (German): http://www.taz.de/1/politik/asien/artikel/1/regime-macht-zeitungen-platt/
English translation kindly provided by Josh Manning

The opposition newspaper “Etemaad” has been banned and the magazine “IranDokht” has had its license revoked. Iranian constitutional principles and freedoms of the press were violated.

The regime seems intent on stifling critical voices

By Bahman Nirumand
Iranian authorities, on Monday, have banned further publishing of a newspaper and revoked the license of a magazine. The newspaper Etemaad and the magazine IranDokht belonged to the few opposition publications that were exempt from the recent wave of censorship.

The publisher of Etemaad, Elias Hasrati, is a former parliament delegate, while the magazine IranDokht is produced by Hossein Karroubi, the son of opposition leader Mehdi Karroubi. The Press Supervisory Board made the decision with total disregard of the principles of the Iranian Constitution. Etemaad accused them of violating the law, so the issue was passed to the office of a public prosecutor.

Etemaad had published on Monday an interview and an article detailing footage which was shown last week on the BBC. The footage was filmed by the Basiji militia, a volunteer group under the Revolutionary Guard, which showed the group assault student dorms during the unrest of summer 2009. It produced a reaction of shock both at home and abroad over the brutality of the militias and Revolutionary Guards. Etemaad suggested submitting the film to the Committee of Investigation which deals with affairs and incidents at the university. The committee would then take a public position on the film.

The interview was led by conservative parliament delegate Dariush Ghanbari, who requested Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani to finally submit the report about the incidents at the university.

The group of editors for the magazine IranDokht primarily composes of young journalists. The Chief Editor himself is a prominent journalist by the name of Mohammad Ghoochani. Ghoochani was the Chief Editor for various reformist newspapers, all of which were banned. He was arrested during the civil unrest of June and spent many months in detention since.

The regime seems intent on stifling critical voices. In past years, nearly over a hundred newspapers have been banned and forms of repression against journalists were also strengthened. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Iran drove one of the toughest campaigns against journalists in 2009. It was stated by the New York based organization in their February 16th annual “Attacks on the Press” report that more than 90 journalists have been arrested. At least 23 of these journalists are still imprisoned.

The number of arrested journalists rose strongly in January. On February 16th, six international organizations published an open letter to Iran Revolutionary Leader Ali Khamenei requesting that he release at least 60 arrested writers, journalists, and bloggers. They are remaining “behind bars today in violation of the protections guaranteed in the Islamic Republic of Iran’s constitution and in international law”, writes Reporters without Borders, the writer association PEN, and four other associations.

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