Wednesday, June 17, 2009Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) is extremely concerned with the recent media restrictions imposed by the Iranian authorities following disputed election results. According to results announced June 13, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was re-elected as president. The results have been challenged by defeated opposition candidate, Mir-Hossein Mousavi, and many of his supporters have taken to the streets in protest. Although censorship of pro-Mousavi media began before the election, restrictions on coverage of protests against the government have increased dramatically since the disputed results were released. "We are all extremely concerned about what is happening in Iran" stated CJFE Board member Morteza Abdolalian. "The government needs to let the media do their work without restrictions." At least 10 Iranian journalists and bloggers are thought to have been detained and two female journalists have been physically attacked. Among those arrested yesterday were editor Mohammad Atrianfar and blogger Mohammad Ali Abtahi. Today two more journalists were arrested, Abdolreza Tajik and Saeed Leylaz. Various newspapers and television stations have been shut down or censored by security services. And, satellite television, mobile phone and SMS messaging networks have been jammed. The internet has played an important role in helping spread information but it is being monitored and controlled by Iranian authorities. Social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook have been blocked in recent days; however, some Iranians are still able to access and post important information on these sites. Foreign media are also affected by the crackdown with journalists from media organizations such as the BBC receiving warnings from the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance to remain indoors and refrain from covering protests; if they do cover protests, the Ministry claims that their safety cannot be guaranteed. CJFE is dismayed by the restrictions and attacks on media coverage which mean that once again the citizens of Iran are denied their basic right to free expression and access to information.
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