CJFE protests closure of 14 newspapers in Iran

Wednesday, May 3, 2000

His Excellency Sayed Ayatollah Ali Khamenei
Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran
C/O Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations
622 3rd Ave, 34 Floor
New York, NY 10017
Fax: 212 867-7086

Your Excellency,

Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) is very concerned over the recent government closure of 14 independent Iranian newspapers as well as the charges laid against two prominent Iranian journalists. CJFE is an independent organization which promotes freedom of expression worldwide according to the precepts of Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The closure of 14 newspapers occurred on April 23 and 24 after your government accused the papers of "continuing to publish articles against the bases of the luminous ordinances of Islam and the pillars of the sacred regime of the Islamic republic." This mass closure is a clear form of censorship which contravenes internationally accepted conventions, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Along with the massive closure of independent media outlets, there have been many deplorable attacks on individual journalists recently, including charges being laid against Akbar Ganji and the imprisonment Latif Safari.

We are specifically concerned with charges against Akbar Ganji, a writer for the daily Sobh-e-Emrouz, by various government institutions resulting from articles published in Iranian newspapers. Also, Latif Safari, the director of the daily newspaper Neshat, was imprisoned on vague charges of "inciting unrest" and "insulting the sanctity and tenets of Islam." Safari was imprisoned for 30 days.

The closure of 14 independent media outlets and the recent crackdown on free expression undertaken by your government is a disturbing development that severely limits the ability of the press to perform its important role of informing the people of Iran. We join the many freedom of expression organizations worldwide to strongly request that Iran uphold Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Sincerely,

Sharmini Peries
CJFE Executive Director

cc. The Hon. Lloyd Axworthy
Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs

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