Today is Journalists' Day in Iran. But in reality, Iran’s journalists have little to celebrate.
The Committee to Protect Journalists ranks Iran fourth in the top ten most censored countries in the world, behind only Eritrea, North Korea and Syria. The Iranian Government heavily controls the media in Iran. Many state journalists work to propagate the regime’s half truths and lies. Being independent or asking questions of authorities is often dangerous. The Iranian Government heavily controls the media in Iran. Right now, around 42 journalists and 19 bloggers are imprisoned in Iran for so-called “crimes against national security”. They are often held in appalling conditions and subject to ill health. At least seven national newspapers and magazines were shut down in 2011. Even drawing cartoons can result in a conviction. Foreign outlets are targeted too. In recent months, staff and their families from BBC Persian and Radio Farda have been threatened and intimidated. Many websites are blocked and foreign satellite TV is often jammed.
Speaking today, Foreign Office minister Alistair Burt said:
“Being a journalist in Iran is often a dangerous job. The regime has made clear its intention to silence any alternative views and control the information which reaches the Iranian population - impossible in the modern age. The Iranian authorities have recently even banned domestic media from reporting on the poor state of the economy. Despite these restrictions, many brave Iranians continue to try to report the facts from and within Iran, often at significant risk to themselves and their families. I pay tribute to their bravery and their efforts to shine a light on the activities of their government. Freedom of expression is a fundamental right for all peoples. The UK will continue to call on the Iranian authorities to stop gagging Iran’s journalists, and we will work with our EU partners to sanction those responsible for human rights abuses in Iran.”