Iran: Journalist Tell of Restrictions
Despite celebrations of their own designated ‘day’, journalists in
Below is an article published by Saeedeh Hashemi for Radio Free Europe/Radio
On August 10, the front pages of many Iranian newspapers read "Journalists' Day -- Congratulations." The event, declared nine years ago by
If you visit the offices of newspapers in
A young Iranian journalist, Baran (not his real name), says he chose his profession in order to promote truth. But faced with self-censorship and "red lines," he has become so disillusioned that his only aspiration now is to make a living and get by.
Baran did not want to use his real name because he thinks that talking freely to foreign media could jeopardize his work.
The so-called red lines that should not be crossed by journalists in
Former Iranian journalist Ruzbeh Mirebrahimi, who now lives in exile, says journalists in
Mashaollah Shamsolvaezin, a spokesman for
In an interview with Radio Farda, Shamsolvaezin says journalism is among the most perilous professions in
About 3,000 people are currently waiting for approval of their license applications. Moreover, the Judiciary Committee to Oversee Publications and Journals has shut down more than 12 publications in the past year.
Shamsolvaezin says that in the last Iranian year, 1,200 journalists lost their jobs, joining the ranks of 2,800 journalist unemployed since 2000. He says that during that same year, 20 journalists have been summoned to court and jailed on security charges.
Shamsolvaezin says many of the unemployed journalists have been forced to leave the country and live in exile. Others have switched to "a safer profession." He adds that some journalists also accept the "red lines and turn to self-censorship in order to be able to pursue their profession."
Baran is working for a government newspaper and says that fact gives him a sense of job security. But he is not satisfied professionally and says working for a government mouthpiece causes him great frustration. Baran says he is limited in his choice of topics and is only able to criticize the government indirectly. He adds that when it comes to politics and economics, most journalists must share the view of upper management.
Culture Minister Mohammad Hossein Saffar Harandi claimed recently that there were signs of a "creeping coup" in the Iranian press. In early August, five Iranian journalists were arrested, and the daily "Sharq," one of the few remaining reformist newspapers, was shut down.
Since then, three detained journalists have been accused of publishing untruths about
Many press freedom organizations now speak of a new wave of suppression of journalists in
Paris-based ‘Reporters Without Borders’ has called on
Mirebrahimi, an Iranian journalist who now lives in exile, says living standards for journalists are so low that friends and former colleagues have had to take up second jobs, including working as part-time taxi drivers.
Mirebrahimi says he was tortured and imprisoned for months. Given the enormous pressures that journalists must endure, Mirebrahim says that it is only love for their profession that keeps journalists in their jobs.