U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power has said the violation by a government of its citizens’ right to free expression, including a free press, is a bellwether for wider repression.
“Look to any region,” she said, “and you will see alarming warning signs of how a crackdown on press freedom is coupled with a broader crackdown on civil and political rights.”
Such a crackdown on press freedom is continuing in Iran. Reporters without Borders says that Iran ranked 173 out of 180 countries in the 2015 World
Press Freedom Index, and noted that “Iran continues to be one of the world’s five biggest prisons for news and information providers, with 50 journalists and netizens currently detained.”
The Committee to Protect Journalists recently called attention to the arrests in January of freelance journalist Farzad Pourmoradi and former editor of the daily newspaper Kalemeh Sabz Meysam Mohammadi.
The CPJ also noted that authorities have ordered the reformist daily newspaper Bahar to cease publishing on the grounds that it published material harmful to the foundation of the Islamic Republic.
In addition, two Iranian journalists arrested in November –- Issa Saharkhiz and Ehsan Mazandarani -- reportedly were recently charged with an additional crime -- “actions against national security” -- on top of earlier charges against them which included propaganda against the regime.
Secretary of State John Kerry has rightly said that “no government, whatever its pretensions and whatever its accomplishments, can fairly call itself great if its citizens are not allowed to say what they believe or are denied the right to learn about events and decisions that affect their lives:”
“A country without a free and independent press has nothing to brag about, nothing to teach, and no way to fulfill its potential.”
The United States will continue to insist to Iran and to all countries around the world, that, as Secretary Kerry has said, “Committing journalism, reporting on the truth is not a crime; it is a badge of honor;” and the U.S. will continue to “demand answers, voice objections, and press for accountability on behalf of imprisoned or threatened journalists” everywhere.