Iran: Iran: Iranian authorities clamp down on journalists following coverage of violence against protesters
In an attempt to silence journalists and tighten the media blackout that started with waves of civil protest in Iran this year, the authorities have summoned a journalist and detained two others reporting on protests.
On 26 February 2018, journalist Reyhaneh Tabatabaei was summoned to Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court, where Judge Abolqasem Salavati accused her of “propaganda against the regime,” for her reports on current events. Later Tabatabaei tweeted about Judge Salavati and his fame for his harsh sentences against journalists: "In 2012, around 20 journalists were arrested for unsubstantial charges. Each were kept in solitary confinement for more than a month and finally, we were summoned to the court after a few years. This Monday, I will be in the court for the third time for sedition and of course it is going to be the second time with Judge Salawati..."
(See photo of the tweet below https://twitter.com/reyhantabatabai/status/967335414599225344.)
Tabatabaei currently works for the “Emtedad” electronic newspaper in Iran, and previously worked for “Farhikhtegan” newspaper, and the reformist “Bahar” newspaper. She was sent to court three times in the last eight years and two of her trials were under the supervision of Judge Salvati, who accused her twice of carrying out “propaganda against the regime” (the first time in 2010 and the second time in 2018). Tabatabaei is no stranger to Evin prison as she served six months out of a one-year sentence in the infamous prison.
In another disturbing incident, Reza Entessari and Kasra Nouri were arrested on 19 February while covering a demonstration for Sufi minorities (Gonabadi Dervishes). The demonstration ended up with many demonstrators injured because of excessive use of force by security services after five members of the security forces were killed. A family member and sect leader Farhad Nouri declared that his brother Kasra Nouri was hit on the head on 23 February 2018, and entered a coma while he was in detention.
Entessari and Nouri face no declared charge until now but Ayatollah Mohsen Araki, a member of Iran's Council of Experts, declared that "those who had a hand in the death of security force members should be prosecuted for murder." In an interview with Fars News Agency he hinted that some journalists may be held responsible for instigating demonstrators against security members.
Entessari is a well-known journalist and activist promoting the human rights of Sufi minorities in Iran, who works for “Majzooban-e-Nour” (a Sufi electronic magazine) and has suffered prolonged detention before in Evin prison.
Nouri is a journalist and one of the administrators of the website of “Majzooban-e-Nour” and a student of Human Rights at Tehran University.
The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) denounces the fabrication of charges against journalists to silence them, in particular Reyhaneh Tabatabaei. GCHR is also deeply concerned about the health conditions and wellbeing of Reza Entessari and Kasra Nouri who are at risk of ill-treatment in Evin prison.
Therefore, GCHR urges the authorities in Iran to:
- Drop all charges against Reyhaneh Tabatabaei and protect her from ongoing intimidation through court summons;
- Immediately and unconditionally release Kasra Nouri and Reza Entessari, and all journalists and human rights defenders in prison;
- Carry out an immediate and transparent investigation about the sad incident of Sufi demonstrations on 19 February 2018 where demonstrators and police died;
- Guarantee human rights for all peaceful protestors, including minorities such as Gonabadi Dervishes; and
- Allow human rights defenders and journalists to carry out their work freely in Iran, without any restrictions.