United appeal for president Rouhani to end media violations in Iran
8 October 2014
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has joined Iranian journalists in a renewed call for the President of Iran, Hassan Rouhani, to show courage and follow up on his election promises by proving his respect for media freedom and freedom of association.
The IFJ has joined its affiliate, the Association of Iranian Journalists (AoIJ) and journalists from across Iran in a united appeal to president Rouhani to stop interfering in the way journalists organise themselves and to allow the Tehran offices of the AoIJ – closed since August 2009 – to be reopened.
The IFJ has also urged the president to scrap government plans to establish a new guild for Iranian journalists, a move which represents a clear u-turn on his elections promises and will undermine press freedom and increase government control.
Jim Boumelha, IFJ president, said:
"Since Rouhani’s election as president over one year ago, the IFJ has repeatedly appealed to him and his government to send a strong message about media freedom in Iran by reopening the offices of the AoIJ, freeing imprisoned journalists and respecting the right of media to organise without fear of intimidation or violence.
"But no such action has been taken, and it is clear that steps are now been taken to tighten the control of authorities on the media and further violate media freedom. We stand shoulder to shoulder with our brothers and sister in Iran to once again call for the president to make good on his election promises by showing respect for the important role of journalists in the future of the Iranian nation."
The IFJ call comes after over 135 Iranian journalists, backed by the AoIJ, sent an open letter to president Rouhani in response to an interview he gave on CNN in which he claimed that no one is imprisoned in Iran for their journalistic work. The letter was covered in news reports in English, French and Persian media.
Responding to the president’s position, the journalists’ letter states:
"We, the undersigned, expected you to take serious and practical measures to fulfill your promises. Yet more than a year after resuming office, the demands and expectations of journalists have not been realised."
Commenting on the 23 journalists who are being held in Iranian prisons, the letter states:
"In fact, in an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, you denied that there was anyone in jail in Iran for their work as a journalist.
"We, the undersigned journalists, believe that it is unethical, unprofessional and insulting to deny the fact that, today, many journalists remain in prison in Iran for doing their jobs. In fact, a number of journalists have been imprisoned during your presidency."
Jim Boumelha added:
"Enough is enough, there can be no more excuses. The president, his government and the Iranian judicial system must respect the basic human rights that are guaranteed by the Iranian constitution and release all journalists being held in Iran."