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Mahsa Amini

Unprecedented number of women journalists detained in Iran

An unprecedented number of women journalists are now detained in Iran. As the regime continues its crackdown on protests after Mahsa Amini’s death, close to half of all newly arrested journalists are women, including two who are facing the death penalty,  Reporters Without Borders (RSF) reports calling for immediate action to secure their unconditional release.

22-year old Mahsa Amini died in a hospital in Iran on September 16. She had  been arrested by the morality police for not wearing her hijab correctly. Authorities said she had suffered a heart attack while eyewitnesses, including women arrested together with Amini, said she had been badly beaten by the police and that she died because of police brutality. Her death has led to widespread protests. Authorities’ attempts to stop the protests have led to violence and a number of deaths.

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“The increasing detention of female journalists symbolically reveals the Iranian regime’s intention to systematically silence women’s voices. RSF is deeply concerned about the fate of these journalists who risk paying a very high price, including the death penalty, for having had the courage to reveal a truth that the authorities seek to stifle. They must be released immediately and unconditionally”, RFS says.

“Since the start of the protests in reaction to Mahsa Amini’s death on 16 September, at least 42 journalists have been arrested throughout Iran. So far, eight of them have been released and 34 are still detained, among them 15 women journalists.” 

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“There are now five times more women imprisoned than before the protests started. The number of detained female journalists has never been so high. Even during the widespread protests of 2019 in Iran, only four out of 10 detained journalists were women.” 

RSF reports that among the women journalists detained, two cases are of particular concern. Nilufar Hamedi and Elahe Mohammadi, the first journalists who draw public attention to Mahsa Amini’s death, have now been imprisoned for more than a month and have been charged with accusations that could result in the death penalty as  Iranian authorities indicted them on charges of “propaganda against the system and conspiracy to act against national security.” “These accusations caused a strong reaction by more than 500 journalists and media activists in Iran, who wrote a courageous appeal for the release of their detained colleagues.” 

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“Women are the pioneers of the ideal revolution for gender equality and have been in the front line for the transition from theocracy to a secular democracy. They are not afraid of the risk of arrest, torture and even death, they report the news immediately”, says Nazila Golestan, Iranian journalist and women’s rights activist based in Paris, in a statement for RSF.

Iran has long held one of the world’s worst press freedom rankings, at 178th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2022 World Press Freedom Index.

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