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Iran: Journalism is being suffocated

Published: Updated:

Is the Green Movement in Iran still capable of creating out hope?

A question which arises everyday due to the violent strategy that has been adopted by the Iranian regime against the opposition movement. It is a strategy which succeeded in putting down plans and activities of the opposition. It seems the Iranian regime does not tire. It continues to come up with mechanisms of suppression and censorship to both siege and suffocate this opposition.

This is why we see overemphasis on detentions, controlling communication and the internet. It is to avoid the recurrence of the green gift of 2009.

The attack where reformist journalists – most of whom work in the fields of culture – came under, in the past few days, are nothing but a slight show of how worried the Iranian regime is of any opposing movement before scheduled elections next summer.

Suddenly, during a wave of detentions, 16 journalists were arrested. It is expected that more journalists will be detained. The only accusation is they work with western media outlets “opposing the revolution and [acting as] mouthpieces for the enemy.”

They are detentions that once again strengthen Iran’s position as one of the biggest jailors of the press in the world. Updates on those who were not detained spread after news emerged that they went into hiding or deleted their journalistic reports from their computers, even if they did not contain anything valuable. They do so out of fear of the Iranian security forces, which as of late focused on detaining those who write about cultural and social issues.

Choosing this category of journalists, who are far from taking a political cover, to detain seemed like a conscious decision that aims to spread panic among journalists and intellectuals. It aims to spread fear that tyranny will not exclude anyone and will not have mercy on anyone.

These detentions were made with a certain time and with a knack for choosing its victims. They were conducted as a direct announcement that no civil activity will be permitted during upcoming elections and what happened in the 2009 will not be repeated. It is a clear message that elections will be held on time based on what the regime wants.

The mullahs of Iran will not hesitate to do what they see as necessary regarding styles of suppression. Unprecedented violence practiced by the regime in Syria against its own people, and with the support of Tehran, helps Iran lift the ceiling of cruelty on what a totalitarian regime may practice against its people. Nothing shows this more clearly than the arrest of the journalists. It is as if the regime is warning Iranians not to have any confidence in journalists’ or civil activists’ actions. The regime has spread fear that no one is immune from getting arrested.

This regime, after the green movement, arrested more than 100 journalists. Some were executed; some remained in jail while dozens left Iran out of fear. Today, the Iranian opposition collides with the maximum of its possibilities to mobilize and move.

Despite the regime’s ruthlessness, the general depressing and disappointing situation in Iran, which was the reason for the birth of this movement, is still present. It is as if the regime in Iran sees in its citizens’ aspirations as a threat to its existence.
Today, this is the essence of the impasse which arbitrary detentions against journalists will not resolve.

[This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on Feb. 4,2013][http://www.aawsat.com/leader.asp?section=3&issueno=12487&article=715787#.UQ9qu_JFySo]

(Diana Moukalled is the Web Editor at the Lebanon-based Future Television and was the Production & Programming Manager with at the channel. Previously, she worked there as Editor in Chief, Producer and Presenter of “Bilayan al Mujaradah,” a documentary that covers hot zones in the Arab world and elsewhere, News and war correspondent and Local news correspondent. She currently writes a regular column in AlSharq AlAwsat. She also wrote for Al-Hayat Newspaper and Al-Wasat Magazine, besides producing news bulletins and documentaries for Reuters TV. She can be found on Twitter: @dianamoukalled.)