Journalists Niloofar Hamedi (left) and Elahe Mohammadi in Tehran, Iran on Aug 17, 2022. (Courtesy of WAN-IFRA/Mehrdad Aladin)
The Board of the World Association of News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) has called for the immediate release of Iranian journalists Niloofar Hamedi and Elahe Mohammadi, whose reports on the death of Mahsa Amini had triggered months of uprisings against strict hijab regulations in the country.
Hamedi and Mohammadi have been detained for almost a year and are currently on trial for reporting the 22-year-old who had died in custody after being arrested by Iranian police. They were among the first journalists who covered Amini’s story.
Hamedi, a reporter for pro-reform Shargh daily, took devastating photos of the final hours of Amini, including one showing Amini’s parents hugging each other while their daughter lying in coma in a Tehran hospital. Mohammadi, a reporter for state-run Hammihan newspaper, reported Amini’s funeral in Saqqez, a city in Kurdistan province.
Both journalists are accused of conspiracy with “hostile powers”, a charge that carries death penalty if found guilty. They have been put in solitary confinement with no clear updates on their health condition.
“The Board of WAN-IFRA denounces the regime in Iran over its blatant disregard for human rights and its deliberate targeting of journalists,” it said in a statement released Thursday.
The board said there are as many as 43 journalists currently in jail in Iran and almost half of them are women.
Hamedi and Mohammadi have been named as recipients of WAN-IFRA’s Golden Pen of Freedom this year.
In September, Amini, an Iranian woman of Kurdish origin, was arrested in Tehran for allegedly not properly covering her hair in public as ruled in the Islamic dress code for women. She was in custody for three days before falling into coma and rushed to hospital.
Iranian authorities have claimed that Amini died of a heart attack, which was supported by a state coroner’s report. However, there have been allegations that she was beaten by police and died as a result of her injuries.
Her parents denied that she had any health issues prior to the arrest and said that she had bruises on her legs when they found her in the hospital.
The first protests took place after Amini’s funeral in Saqqez in which women removed their headscarves in solidarity. The protests have snowballed into nationwide protests for four months and triggered unrest.
United States-based Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) reported that at least 522 people had been killed in the protests and nearly 20,000 people had been arrested and 110 on charges that could lead to a death sentence.
In May, three men, who had been convicted of moharebeh or “war against God” for drawing a gun during one of the protests in Isfahan city, were executed. The Iranian authorities said that the men had caused deaths of three members of security forces.
A total of seven Iranians had been executed in connection with the protests as of May.
News Desk (The Jakarta Post)
Taipei ● Mon, July 3, 2023
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This article was published in thejakartapost.com with the title “WAN-IFRA calls for release of Iranian journalists Niloofar Hamedi, Elahe Mohammadi – Asia and Pacific