Journalists arrested, social media censored in Iran in response to protests

Several journalists have been arrested in Iran amid a wave of protests about a young woman’s death in detention after her arrest by the morality police. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls for their immediate release and condemns the surge in violations of the right to information in Iran.


“By targeting journalists amid a great deal of violence after restricting access to WhatsApp and Instagram, the Iranian authorities are sending a clear message that there must be no coverage of the protests,” RSF’s Middle East desk said. “We demand the immediate release of these journalists and the immediate lifting of all restrictions on Iranians’ right to be informed.”

The Iranian authorities have stepped up attacks on the right to information in response to the wave of massive protests throughout the country since 16 September, when Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish Iranian woman, died in custody following her arrest by the morality police for being “improperly dressed.”

Several NGOs report that 36 people have so far been killed in connection with the protests while the authorities put the death toll at 17. In response to a call from the authorities, thousands of people demonstrated in several cities on 23 September in support of Iran’s rules on wearing the hijab and to denounce the “mercenaries” who have been protesting for the past week.

According to RSF’s sources, many journalists have summoned for questioning and threatened, while Masoud Kourdpour, the editor of the news website Mokeryan in the northeastern city of Bukan, was arrested by intelligence officials on 20 September. At least ten journalists have been interrogated and threatened in such cities as Rasht, Sari and Amol in the north, and Ahvaz, the capital of the southwestern province of Khuzestan.

Nilufar Hamedi, the Shargh newspaper reporter who went to the hospital where Amini was in a coma before dying and who helped draw the public’s attention to her plight, has herself been arrested, Shargh announced on Telegram. The photo-journalist Yalda Moaiery was also arrested this week while she was covering the protests in Tehran.

The Islamic Republic has also drastically restricted access to Instagram and WhatsApp and imposed many Internet shutdowns since the start of the protests. There is a total Internet shutdown in western Iran’s Kurdistan province, where Amini was from and where the first protests began. Other partial Internet restrictions have been reported in Tehran and other major cities.

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