Iran - More and more minority journalists being jailed



    MONTREAL, Sept. 24 /CNW Telbec/ - Reporters Without Borders is worried
about a rise in tension between the Iranian authorities and journalists who
belong to Iran's Azeri community. Four Azeri journalists have been held
without charge for more than 10 days, possibly in Tehran's Evin prison, while
an Azeri journalist and blogger was sentenced to six months in prison on
20 September for her online articles.
    "These Azeris join the list of ethnic minority journalists held in Iran's
prisons for criticising social inequality and demanding equal treatment within
Iranian society," Reporters Without Borders said. "It is disturbing that 11 of
the 12 journalists currently detained in Iran are from the Kurdish, Azeri or
Arab minorities. The Iranian authorities must put a stop to this all-out
repression, which is holding back the development of community media."
    An investigating judge decided on 17 September to keep four Azeri
journalists - Alireza Sarafi, Said Mohamadi, Hassain Rashedi and Akabar Azad -
in detention without giving their families any explanation and without letting
them see a lawyer. They were arrested on 10 September while meeting at a
political activist's home in Tehran.
    Sarafi is the editor of Dilmaj (a monthly that has been closed since
23 September 2007). Mohamadi is the editor of the literary magazine Yashagh.
Rashedi and Azad write for the magazine Varlighe and the weekly Yarpagh.
    The day after the judge's decision to keep them in custody, intelligence
agents search the homes of Sarafi and Rashedi, taking work files, CD-ROMs and
the hard drives of their computers. The four men may now be in Evin prison's
section 209, which is under the intelligence ministry's control.
    Shahnaz Gholami, the editor of the weblog Azar Zan, was sentenced to six
months in prison by a revolutionary court in the northwestern city of Tabriz
on 20 September for "publicity against the Islamic Republic." She remains free
pending the outcome of an appeal being prepared by her lawyer, Mohamad Ali
Dadkhah.
    A member of the Women Journalists Association (ARZ), Gholami is well
known for her involvement in the struggle for women's rights, She was jailed
for three weeks in August 2007 for criticising the way the police cracked down
on demonstrators in various towns in the Iranian provinces of East and West
Azerbaijan. She was also detained for five years in the 1980s because of her
political activities.




For further information:

For further information: Katherine Borlongan, Executive Director,
Reporters Without Borders Canada, (514) 521-4111, rsfcanada@rsf.org

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