Iran Imposes 30 Year Professional Ban on Female Blogger


Published in German weekly trade journal “Computerwoche” on 23 June 2010
Source (German):
English translation: @germantoenglish

Zhila Bani Yaghoub, Iranian blogger and journalist

The Iranian female blogger Zhila Bani Yaghoub received this year’s “Reporters without Borders Award”. The regime in Tehran recently sentenced her to one year in prison and a 30 year professional ban.

According to the verdict of the 26. court of the Tehran Revolutionary Court Bani Yaghoub is guilty of “propaganda against the state leadership”. Bani Yaghoub was informed about her sentence on June 8. She is going to file an appeal against the verdict.

Bani Yaghoub, journalist and human rights acitivist, runs the blog “We are journalists”. The blog takes a critical look at the situation in Iran. On June 22 the human rights organization “Reporters without borders” awarded her for her journalistic activities in [the German city of] Bonn.

Bani Yaghoub was not allowed to leave the country to attend the award ceremony on June 22. Her speech (see below) was read out during the ceremony. She states that “more than 40 other journalists and bloggers are imprisoned in Iran” apart from herself. Some have been sentenced to six or even nine years imprisonment, others are facing similar sentences.

In 2009, Reporters without Borders (ROG) has counted 60 countries in which the internet is being censored – twice as many as the year before. The “Open Net Initiative” (ONI), supported by the renowned universities of Harvard, Oxford, Cambridge and Toronto, has counted about 40 countries. For comparison: In 2002 only two countries implemented restrictions of internet freedom, according to ONI.

About 120 bloggers are currently imprisoned world wide, among them 72 internet dissidents in China, says the report “Enemies of the Internet” that was published on Thursday.

“Dear Journalists and Bloggers from all over the world”

first of all, I would like to tell you that I am writing this note to you after I was recently sentenced to one year in prison – and banned from practicing journalism for 30 years – by the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Revolutionary Court. One of the reasons they named for handing me this harsh sentence was the articles I wrote on my weblog, the weblog that Reporters Without Borders chose as the best blog from among Deutsche Welle’s International Blog Awards, The BOBs. On this blog I wrote about people’s protests against the disputed presidential election in Iran last year.

Currently, more than 40 journalists and webloggers are imprisoned in Iran. Some of them have been sentenced to six or even nine years in prison, and still others are expecting similar court sentences. These prisoners did not commit any crime; they simply pursued the career and duties of a journalist.

One of these imprisoned journalists is my husband, Bahman Ahmadi Amouee. He was arrested during the post-election crisis. My husband was sentenced to 34 lashes, along with seven years and four months in prison. His greatest crime was publishing critical articles about Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s government on his personal weblog and in Iranian dailies. For one year now, he has been held in prison – alongside many other journalists – for no legitimate reason.

I would like to thank Reporters Without Borders for awarding me this prize, and I would like to dedicate my prize to my imprisoned husband, Bahman, and to all imprisoned Iranian bloggers, especially Shiva Nazar Ahari. Thank you so much.”

Bani Yaghoubs Persian blog provides latest information on the situation in Iran, focusing on social and women-related issues, writes media service “Meedia”. “Zhila is a pioneer for freedom of opinion in her country”, said Lucie Morillon, head of the ROG department “New Media” during the proclamation of the winners of the “Best of the Blogs” competition.

According to ROG, more than one year after the contested victory of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the presidential elections of 2009, the extent of repression and prosecution of critical voices in Iran is dramatic: More than 170 Iranian journalists and bloggers were arrested in the past 12 months. 38 of them are still in prison. More than 100 media professionals left the Islamic Republic since the presidential elections. (jm)

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