UN votes to investigate Iran’s crackdown on protesters

  • 25 Nov 2022

Journalists reporting the anti-government demonstrations are also targeted.

Iran must stop targeting journalists, BBC Persian service journalist Behrang Tajdin told a special United Nations Human Rights Council session to address “the deteriorating human rights situation in the Islamic Republic of Iran”.

Speaking on behalf of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), and its UK affiliate, the NUJ, he said:

“The Iranian state has waged a war on journalists and journalism about Iran. Dozens of journalists in Iran, have been interrogated and arrested for trying to cover the protests. Today many are in prison with uncertain futures, simply for doing their job. Iranian journalists outside of Iran, in Britain, in Germany are not immune either.

“We are targeted with death threats and the most horrific online abuse to discredit us. Female journalists receive sexist, misogynistic abuse. They threaten our families safety, not just in Iran, but here in Europe. They have labelled us terrorists, put us on a sanctions list, threatened us with asset seizures and other punishments. This is a massive escalation of what my colleagues and I at BBC Persian have faced for more than a decade.

“They persecute, threaten, and punish us and our families in Iran, to make us leave the BBC, to force us to quit journalism, to stop us from telling the world what’s happening in Iran.”   Full text

The council voted 25 to 6, with 16 abstentions, to adopt a resolution sponsored by Germany and Iceland to investigate the Iranian establishment's response to more than two months of protests. Iran said it did not recognise the legitimacy of a UN fact-finding mission. According to a foreign-based Iranian rights group, 445 protesters have been killed, including 63 children in the protests since September, triggered by the death of Mahsa Amini after she was detained for allegedly not properly observing Iran's strict dress code for women.

Paul Siegert, NUJ national broadcasting organiser, said:

“It’s important that more people understand the daily abuse that Iranian journalists living in the UK are subjected to on a daily basis. Death threats, rape threats against female journalists, fears that you could be kidnapped at any time, your assets back home frozen, family members of journalists still living in Iran facing intimidation and arrest from the police. The list goes on and on.

“As Behrang said in his brave and power address, Iran must stop targeting journalists. Journalism is not a crime. We call on the UN and other countries around the world to speak out against this kind of behaviour. “

Since 2017, the BBC World Service has filed a number of UN complaints over the treatment of BBC News Persian staff and their families.  To mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, the NUJ has sent a message of solidarity to all the women taking part and reporting on the protests in Iran, following the killing of Mahsa Amini by the so-called morality police.

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