Press Freedom Day: Report lists Iran among world’s “worst of the worst”

As the world prepares to mark the UN-declared Press Freedom Day on Thursday, the Iranian regime continues to crack down on journalists and control and censor the Internet.

“Independent media nonexistent or barely able to operate”

A new report by Freedom House lists Iran and seven other countries as the “worst of the worst” for press freedom. “In these states, independent media are either nonexistent or barely able to operate, the press acts as a mouthpiece for the regime, citizens’ access to unbiased information is severely limited, and dissent is crushed through imprisonment, torture, and other forms of repression,” the watchdog group said in its annual survey released this week. [1]

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Iran is the world’s worst journalist Jailer, keeping 42 journalists behind bars. [2]

Iran is ranked 175th out of 179 countries in the Reporters Without Borders press freedom index released in January 2012. “Hounding and humiliating journalists has been part of officialdom’s political culture for years. The regime feeds on persecution of the media,” the report says. [3]

Repeated jamming of international TV stations

In February, BBC Director General Mark Thompson wrote, “interference and harassment from the Iranian authorities has become a challenging fact of life” for those working for the BBC Persian service. [4]

“In recent months, we have witnessed increased levels of intimidation alongside disturbing new tactics. This includes an attempt to put pressure on those who work for BBC Persian outside Iran, by targeting family members who still live inside the country,” he said in a blog post, describing “a campaign of bullying and harassment by the Iranian authorities.”

Thompson also complained of the “repeated jamming of international TV stations such as BBC Persian TV, preventing the Iranian people from accessing a vital source of free information”.

Iran’s efforts to disrupt the BBC Persian service are part of the regime’s struggle against the so-called “soft war” — a cultural invasion allegedly supported by the West.

In 2010, the Iranian government banned its citizens from having contact with 60 organizations it said were involved in the “soft war” against the Islamic Republic. The list included media groups such as the BBC and Voice of America. [5]

Enemy of the internet

In recent months, Tehran has also been mounting new clampdowns on Internet access and expression. “Iran’s already harsh repression has become even more brutal,” Reporters Without Borders said in a report released last month, naming the Islamic Republic as an “enemy of the Internet.” [6]

The report describes how death penalties against blog­gers and journalists, waves of arrests of online activists, tougher cyber regulations, and increasingly effective state-run firewalls have provided Tehran with enhanced means to control and censor the Internet.

Read more about Iran’s war against the Internet

New sanctions target Iran’s “electronic curtain”

To counter what US President Barack Obama called an “electronic curtain” descending on Iran, [7] his administration last week imposed new sanctions against those who provide Tehran with “information and communications technology that facilitates computer or network disruption, monitoring, or tracking that could assist in or enable grave rights abuses.” [8]

The EU, too, bans “exports of equipment and software intended for use in the monitoring or interception of internet and telephone communications by the Iranian authorities”.  [9]

In March, the EU added 17 persons responsible for serious human rights violations to the list of those subject to a travel ban and an asset freeze.  The new additions include Iran’s minister of information and communication and the head of the state broadcasting network. EU diplomats explained the renewed focus on censorship: “Internet activities and bloggers have faced a harsh crackdown over the last couple of months and that’s behind the targeting of officials associated with information technology.” [10]


References:

[1] “Freedom of the Press 2012”, Freedom House,http://www.freedomhouse.org/sites/default/files/FOTP%202012%20Booklet.pdf

[2] “Special Reports: Imprisonments jump worldwide, and Iran is worst”, CPJ, December 8, 2011,
http://cpj.org/reports/2011/12/journalist-imprisonments-jump-worldwide-and-iran-i.php

[3] “World Press Freedom Index 2011-2012”, Reporters Without Borders, January 25,2012,
http://en.rsf.org/IMG/CLASSEMENT_2012/C_GENERAL_ANG.pdf

[4] “The harassment of BBC Persian journalists”, BBC, Feb.3, 2012,
http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/theeditors/2012/02/the_harassment_of_bbc_persian.html

[5] “Iran ‘bars co-operation with foreign groups’”, BBC, January 5, 2010,
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8441376.stm

[6] “Internet Enemies Report 2012”, RSF, March 12, 2012,
http://en.rsf.org/IMG/pdf/rapport-internet2012_ang.pdf

[7] “Obama slams Iran’s ‘electronic curtain’ of censorship”, March 20, 2012,http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5j_-CgXu5HksBbsE8WEOdnAyqD6og?docId=CNG.3822ca29b926c1b6bd8f823e3308563a.81

[8]“ Blocking the Property and Suspending Entry into the United States of Certain Persons with Respect to Grave Human Rights Abuses by the Governments of Iran and Syria via Information Technology”, The White House Press Office, April 23, 2012,
http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2012/04/23/letter-blocking-property-and-suspending-entry-united-states-certain-pers

[9] “Human Rights Violations: Council Tightens Sanctions Against Iran”, Council of the European Union, March 23, 2012,
http://www.consilium.europa.eu/uedocs/cms_Data/docs/pressdata/EN/foraff/129215.pdf 

[10] “EU names 17 Iranians sanctioned over human rights”, Reuters, March 25, 2012,
http://in.reuters.com/article/2012/03/25/iran-eu-sanctions-idINDEE82O01P20120325

Quelle: EU Realite

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