“Set Journalists Free” says IFJ as Iran Cracks Down on Media (<i>updated</i>)

The International Federation of Journalists today called on Iran to free 17 journalists currently in detention and demanded an investigation into police brutality, which has left one Canadian journalist seriously injured.

“There has been a series of brutal violations of journalists’ rights, which must be stopped,” said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary.

Security officers in civilian clothes arrested 54-year-old Canadian photojournalist Zahra Kazemi last month during widespread student protests. She allegedly took photos of a prison where many protestors were jailed. She sustained injuries in the custody of the Iranian police.

“We are very concerned about her condition,” said White. “These attacks, which amount to censorship of the press, must be dealt with by the authorities and those responsible brought to justice.”

In another attack, on 2 July, journalist Peyman Pakmehr, was attacked by armed men in civilian clothes just two hours after giving an interview to Radio FARDA, (Radio Free Europe), in conjunction with a large demonstration at Babam fortress, near Kaliber. Pakmehr previously worked for the daily Nasim Sabah and the weekly Ahrar Tabriz, both of which have now been closed down by the government.

Another journalists, Ensafali Hedayat, of the now-closed daily Salam was arrested during a recent demonstration in Tabriz University, and was not given any food for 3 days while in police custody. He was accused of distributing propaganda against the Iranian government. Several other journalists have been beaten, arrested and imprisoned since the beginning of June.

“The IFJ is deeply concerned at the growing numbers of violations against journalists’ safety and press rights,” said White. “All of this is an unacceptable attempt to stifle media coverage of opposition protests.”

With seventeen journalists currently detained in Iran, the IFJ is supporting its affiliate, the Association of Iranian Journalists, and calls on the government to respect the human rights and safety of these journalists. “The struggle for press freedom is intensifying and journalists around the world must show increased solidarity with their colleagues in Iran, said White.”

Update: Canadian photojournalist, Zahra Kazemi has been declared brain-dead following the injuries she sustained while in police custody in Tehran. While in custody she suffered a brain hemorrhage and now doctors in Tehran have advised Canadian diplomats she will not recover. The Iranian government has so far declined to comment about the case.

Further information: + 32 2 235 22 00
The IFJ represents more than 500,000 journalists in more than 100 countries