Press Freedom Should Be Key Indicator of Democratic Change in Iran, Says IFJ

The election

of President Hassan Rohani in Iran provides a window of opportunity for

democratic change, a round table discussion hosted by the European Parliament

yesterday concluded.

The event,

jointly organised by the Tarja Cronberg MEP and

the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), brought together members of

the European Parliament, IFJ leaders, Iranian journalists and writers.

"There is a

window of opportunity for change in Iran," said Ms Cronberg, Chair of the

European Parliament delegation on Iran, who moderated the discussion. "On the

eve of the election, candidate Rohani promised to release all political



IFJ President,

Jim Boumelha, described the President-elect as a man the international community

can do business with, on the basis of his inside knowledge of Iranian politics.

He held senior positions in the government and served as Iran's chief

negotiator in the nuclear talks.

However, Boumelha

cautioned against high expectations on what President Hassan can achieve for

press freedom in the immediate future.


excitement over his election must be tempered with the expectation that he will

want to tread carefully so as not to antagonize the hardliners in Iran," said


In the

meantime, he said that the IFJ will continue campaigning for independent media,

in solidarity with its affiliate in the country, the Association of Iranian

Journalists (AoIJ), which was shut down in the wake of the clampdown on media

in 2009.


journalists agreed that change may take time and called for European

governments maintain pressure on Iranian authorities and demand genuine

independence of media.


Rohani carries the hopes of Iranian people but it is too soon to tell what will

happen," added Ali Mazrooei, AoIJ President. "But the situation of journalists

remains bleak. At least 40 journalists are still in jail and there is no free

flow of information. Very few newspapers are independent."

IFJ General

Secretary, Beth Costa, said that Iranian journalists deserve global solidarity in

their struggle for a free press.

"In this

regard, the IFJ World Congress which took place in Dublin from 4 - 7 June

adopted an urgent motion supporting Iranian journalists and calling for the

release of all journalists and the AoIJ offices as well as a new chapter in

relations between media and the government," she said.

Iran's track

record on workers' rights also came under severe criticism. Stephen Benedict,

Director of Human and Trade Union Rights of ITUC, accused Iran of continuously

violating the rights of trade unionists, writers and journalists. These include

poor working conditions, denial of licences for

publications, retribution from officials and unpaid work. He also cited cases

brought against Iran by the ITUC to the Committee on Freedom of Association

which found on many occasions Iran to be in breach of the workers' right to organise

and bargain for collective agreements.

"The only

answer is more intense solidarity and focused denunciations of workers' rights

violations," said Mr Benedict.


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The IFJ represents more than 600.000 journalists in 134