An unprecedented number of women journalists have been detained in Iran during the protests against the regime. The protests have now made the country’s attorney-general say that the criticized morality police will be abolished but as no other authority has confirmed, it seems unclear if the attorney-general’s statement is correct.
The regime’s crackdown on protests after Mahsa Amini’s death has continued and 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.
“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 said in a statement..
RSF said that 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. 34 of them were a month ago still detained, among them 15 women journalists.
The number of detained female journalists has never been so high, according to RSF. “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 drew public attention to Mahsa Amini’s death.
“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”, said Nazila Golestan, Iranian journalist and women’s rights activist based in Paris, in a statement for RSF.