Reporters Without Borders has branded Iran as the new champion in journalistic repression, which won’t come as much of a shock for anyone following the crisis of the past week. Five days ago, the BBC reported that foreign press had been confined to their offices or homes, and forbidden to report on anything in Iran without official approval. Now they’re being confined in the more traditional manner (via Newsbeat1):
The Islamic Republic of Iran now ranks alongside China as the world’s biggest prison for journalists. The crackdown has been intensified yet again following Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s endorsement of the result of the 12 June presidential election and the opposition’s decision to call another demonstration on 20 June.
Iran now has a total of 33 journalists and cyber-dissidents in its jails, while journalists who could not be located at their homes have been summoned by telephone by Tehran prosecutor general Said Mortazavi.
“The force of the demonstrations in Tehran is increasing fears that more Iranian journalists could be arrested and more foreign journalists could be expelled,” Reporters Without Borders said. “The regime has been visibly shaken by its own population and does not want to let this perception endure. That is why the media have become a priority target.”
The press freedom organisation added: “The international community cannot continue to ignore the situation. It must have a clear and unanimous reaction that is proportionate to the gravity of these events. And there will never be any question of recognising the results of the 12 June election.”
Maybe they should direct those remarks to the White House, especially that last statement. Not only will Barack Obama accept those results, he wants direct talks with the people who fabricated them to keep their hold on power.
RSF (from the French Reporters Sans Frontières) lists a number of reporters that have gone missing, been arrested, or ordered to leave the country. It also notes that a portal for reporting has been shut down:
After being blocked since 11 June, the Iranian news website Entekhab (www.entekhabnews.com) has now been closed down on the orders of the Tehran prosecutor general.
Its most recent stories report that Mousavi criticized the extra polling time demanded by Ahmadinejad, the swine-flu outbreak in Israel, and that Palestinians rescued a family of “Israeli occupiers.” The last update appears to be from June 13th, the day after the election and the day when protests erupted across Iran. Iran doesn’t even want it open for official reports, let alone the possibility that the repression and violence the regime is perpetrating might leak out in the form of reporting, pictures, and video.
RSF has taken a tougher stand on Iran and oppression than the White House. Shouldn’t that embarrass the current occupants?