LONDON: Media watchdog the Committee to Protect Journalists on Tuesday renewed its call for authorities in Iran to release all journalists detained in the country.
The CPJ, an independent American non-profit organization, demanded the release of 37 reporters and urged the UN Security Council to initiate a fair and independent investigation of all alleged human rights violations committed by the Iranian government.
“Iranian authorities should free all detained journalists immediately and unconditionally,” said CPJ President Jodie Ginsberg.
“Iranian authorities are trying to silence a critical moment in the country’s history, and in the process have made Iran among the world’s top jailers of journalists in an astonishingly short time.”
According to the advocacy group, since the current unrest began to sweep the country in September, police have arrested 51 journalists. The CPJ has documented the release on bail of only 14 of them.
Iran is experiencing the largest anti-government protests in the country for decades. They were sparked by the death in police custody on Sept. 16 of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who had been arrested three days previously for allegedly violating the country’s strict dress laws.
The uprising has persisted despite a government crackdown on the dissent that has resulted in the deaths of more than 250 people and the arrest and detention of thousands.
In its attempt to crush the protests, the regime has also tried to silence the media. According to the New York-based Coalition for Women in Journalism, about half of the media workers detained because of their coverage of the demonstrations are women.
Last week, Niloofar Hamedi and Elahe Mohammadi, the female journalists who broke the news of Amini’s death at the hands of Iran’s “morality police,” were accused by the Iranian government of being CIA agents and acting as the “primary sources of news for foreign media.” If convicted, they could face the death penalty.
The Association of Iranian Journalists issued a response in which it said that “what they (the Iranian authorities) referred to as evidence for their charges is the exact definition of journalists’ professional duty.”