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Two Iranian journalists arrested, beaten, now reportedly in a coma

A woman in chador sits outside the tomb of a great Sufi leader in Mahan, Iran, 26 March 2011
A woman in chador sits outside the tomb of a great Sufi leader in Mahan, Iran, 26 March 2011

Kaveh Kazemi/Getty Images

This statement was originally published on rsf.org on 22 February 2018.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is extremely concerned about the fate of two journalists who were arrested during violent clashes between police and members of a Sufi religious order called the Gonabadi Dervishes. The journalists were beaten and, according to some sources, are now in a coma.

At least seven people, including three police officers, were killed, around 100 people were injured and more than 300 arrests were made during the three days of clashes, from 19 to 21 February 2018, in the north Tehran district of Pasdaran.

Those arrested included Reza Entesari and Kasra Nouri, two reporters for the Sufi news website Majzooban Nor, and several other Majzooban Nor employees including Faezeh Abdipour. The only independent source of information about the the Gonabadi Dervishes, Majzooban Nor has been posting reports and video footage of the violence by police and plainclothes militiamen.

Witnesses say the two journalists were badly beaten and arrested on the night of 19 February. The authorities have not as yet issued any statement about their arrest and have yet to tell the families where they are being held or what their present condition is.

According to several detainees who were freed in the past 48 hours, the journalists were taken to Imam Sajad police hospital in Tehran shortly after their arrest because their physical condition was worsening. Some of the sources said they are now in coma.

"We are extremely concerned about the physical condition of these two journalists," said Reza Moini, the head of RSF's Iran desk. "The lack of transparency and denial of justice surrounding their arrest and hospitalization is unacceptable. We remind the regime's highest officials of their duty. They have undertaken to respect international human rights conventions. They are the ones who are responsible for these journalists' lives."

Entesari and Nouri have already been arrested and jailed several times in the past, while the Gonabadi Dervishes have been persecuted by the regime's fundamentalists for the past decade.

One of the world's most authoritarian regimes, Iran is ranked 165th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2017 World Press Freedom Index.

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