As censorship in Iran continues to increase, more journalists are being detained, tortured, and sentenced to long prison terms and in some potential cases, execution. According to a report released by the Committee to Protect Journalists, Iran has hit a new high in the detainment of journalists. There are now 52 journalists in jail, making Iran the top jailer of press in the world. China comes in second place with imprisoning 24 journalists and Cuba follows closely behind with 22.
In response to this crackdown on free press, at least a hundred journalists have fled the country and at least 80 are in hiding in Turkey. This has led those journalists who are still reporting from Iran to go underground, a sort of “guerilla journalism” as characterized by Reza Valizadeh, who used to work for the state run television and radio. Journalists are now writing under pseudonyms and communicate information without revealing their identity to media outlets outside of Iran. Despite facing charges of “propagation against the regime,” insulting authorities, disrupting order and even heresy that if convicted carry the death penalty, journalists continue to speak out on the atrocities committed by the country’s regime. The belief among those brave enough to continue the fight is that Iran has “entered a state of permanent media repression, a situation that is not only appalling but also untenable…The Iranian government will eventually lose the war against information.” This optimism, however, is not without sacrifice. Each day another journalist is arrested the regime becomes more brutal in its tactics to suppress Iranian freedoms.
It is highly regrettable that the Obama administration was so late in its condemnation of the human rights abuses during and after the June 12, 2009 elections. More so, it is even more appalling that no action has been taken to defend those risking their lives in the name of free speech and governmental reform. The United States must condemn and expose the Iranian government on abuse of human rights and isolate the regime from the international community. Standing silent will only make the people of Iran resent the United States.