CJFE concerned about detention of journalists at demonstration in Tehran

Thursday, March 8, 2007
CJFE calls upon the government of Iran to immediately release three journalists detained after a March 4, 2007, demonstration. The three women, Shadi Sadr, Mahbubeh Abbasgholizadeh, and Jila Baniyaghoub are still being held in Evin Prison, after the remainder of the original 33 detainees were released yesterday. It appears that the reason these three have not been released, is that they drafted the statement that called for the gathering. The women had been protesting in front of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran against the court proceedings of five prominent members of Iranian women's organizations who were arrested in previous demonstrations. Of the 33 arrested, 22 were journalists, which points to the possible targeting of journalists; the demonstration may have been simply a pretext to send a further message to Iranian journalists that dissent will not be tolerated. With so many prominent female journalists being imprisoned at one time, the government may have hoped to undermine coverage of events such as the March 8 International Women's Day. Mahbubeh Abbasgholizadeh is the editor of the Zanan quarterly journal. She has been imprisoned previously for contributing to reformist websites. Shadi Sadr is a prominent lawyer, journalist, and activist. She founded Zanan-e Iran, the first website dedicated to the work of Iranian women's rights activists, and she has written many articles and books on the subject of Iranian women and their legal rights. Jila Baniyaghoub is a well-known journalist. She is the editor of the website of the Iranian Women's Society and the editor of the society and women's sections of Sarmaye newspaper . Ms. Baniyaghoub had only recently been acquitted of charges of "acting against national security" and "participating in an illegal demonstration" for covering the June 12, 2006, demonstration by several thousand women demanding changes in the laws that affect them. CJFE is very concerned that these three journalists remain in prison without charge. We urge the Iranian government to mark International Women's Day with their immediate and unconditional release. Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) is an association of more than 300 journalists, editors, publishers, producers, students and others who work to promote and defend free expression and press freedom in Canada and around the world. For more information, contact Executive Director, Anne Game at (416) 515-9622

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