REGIONS:

SUBSCRIBE:

Sign up for weekly updates

Talks on nuclear programme cannot ignore terrible situation of human rights and free speech, according to RSF

(RSF/IFEX) - 3 December 2010 - Reporters Without Borders has written to the foreign ministers of the six countries conducting negotiations with Iran about its nuclear programme - Germany, China, United States, France, Britain and Russia - urging them to raise the subject of freedom of expression in Iran with their Iranian counterpart when talks resume next week.

Sent on 21 October, the letter voices "deep concern" about the methods used to suppress free speech, mentioning "the arrests and convictions of journalists, bloggers and netizens" and, in particular, "the long jail sentences recently passed on the bloggers Hossein Ronaghi Maleki and Hossein Derakhshan."

Reporters Without Borders is very worried about the conditions in which these detainees are being held. Most of them are ill or have been badly affected, physically and psychology, by the treatment they have received.

Some are being deprived of medical care. The situation of Mohammad Sadegh Kaboudvand, Issa Saharkhiz and Hengameh Shahidi, who have been hospitalised in the infirmaries of Evin and Rajai Shahr prisons several times since their arrest, is particularly alarming.

Two German reporters have also been detained in Iran since 11 October. Senior judicial officials have accused them of spying when in fact they were just doing their duty as journalists in a country where the government allows the local media no freedom to cover what is going on and is extremely restrictive with the press visas it issues to foreign journalists.

The letter stressed that the situation continues to worsen in Iran. "Since President Mahmoud Ahmadinedjad's disputed reelection, bloggers and new media have joined journalists in the ranks of enemies of the regime who are subject to systematic censorship and surveillance," the letter said. "There have been many arrests of journalists and bloggers, who are often mistreated or forced to flee the country. With 26 journalists, nine netizens and one media assistant currently detained in Iran, Iran is the Middle East's biggest prison for the media."

The letter added: "We would like to ask you to intercede personally with the Iranian authorities on their behalf when negotiations on Iran's nuclear programme resume. The '5+1' group will represent the international community in these talks, and we are asking the representatives of each of these countries to urge the Iranian authorities to release the imprisoned journalists and bloggers. The issue of human rights must be addressed at the same time as the economic and scientific discussions."

This opportunity for dialogue must be seized. More than 100 political prisoners are still being held in inhuman and degrading conditions in Iranian jails as a result of the major crackdown launched in response to the protests that followed President Ahmadinejad's reelection in June 2009.

Latest Tweet:

Pakistani journo Muhammad Yasir fled his homeland after a grenade attack on his office. He travelled across Europe… https://t.co/V3GgySIao8

Get more stories like this

Sign up for our newsletters and get the most important free expression news delivered to your inbox.

CLOSE