Freedom of press and freedom of speech are among the most important pillars of democracy in any countries leading to the adjustment and correction of the politician and totalitarian system erroneous decision. In contrast totalitarian governments are worried about such freedoms, because freedom of press and speech will raise the level of awareness and expectations of the people.
There are two chapters of press law in Iran dedicated to rights and importance of the press in improving public awareness, but other chapters of the same law make it possible to crackdown on journalists as a routine and legal practice.
Failed dictatorship with no intentions to reform or improve, gradually lose popular support, and as a result of widespread public discontent, they resort to repression and violence to suppress domination and try to subdue the people by creating political suffocation and coercion.
In the meantime, freedom of speech and press are among the most important conflicts between the people and government and freedom has always been a point of contention in countries where the government is unable to govern the country properly. On the other hand, the ruling power tries to shut down the independent and popular press and set up other media outlets with a popular look to feed the public. The marginalized press with the name of the people`s popular and independent appearance. Thus, the state media and press will emerge among the independent press and governments officials will run the affairs in order to control the press. Independent media are under so much pressure that they are either removed automatically or forced to self-censorship.
Some central and many provincial presses also resort to self-censorship due to fears of seizure by government and security agencies. Such press is run by figures close to the government and step by step they take up the whole national media scene. The independent undergoes pressure until they either submit to self-censorship. This form of censorship extends from political news to the coverage of the social problems. For example, they censor critical content that challenges parts of people`s cultural poverty to prevent audience decline.
The institution in the Islamic republic of Iran which oversee press for the violation of the red lines allow some minor level of criticism as long as they remain with the controversial area. Such criticism is more of a nagging nature, with repeated lines which inject the delusion of freedom of speech to the society.
During khatami`s presidency number of press increased significantly. But following the serial killing in 2000 by the order of supreme leader, the Islamic republic judiciary took the responsibility of overseeing press. Soon after they shut down the newspapers one after another in an instance, they close down four popular weekly magazines in Sannandaj in a week and tens of journalists were arrested and hundreds lost their jobs.
With the closure of political space and press restriction, the platform of speech freedom and different opinion expression, the journalists work was disappeared and it was replaced by social media. But compare to print media such as newspapers and weekly magazines, the influence of the government and officials on social media content is negligible.
Hundreds of journalists and editors have been arrested, tortured and imprisoned in recent years and accused of non-press charges. The same practice was repeated to environmental activists last year. They had been arrested on trumped-up charges such as espionage and they are still being held in prison. Hundreds of journalists have been arrested on charges totally unrelated to their jobs and also they have been tortured and sentenced to prison only in the last few years and security forces usually raid their houses, confiscate their laptops and personal belongings to trace their connection with activists and journalists abroad so that they can be easily charged with espionage.
The Iranian regime has not limited its attack on press freedom within its borders. Iran is trying to control the connection of journalists with foreign media outlets and constantly interrupts the passage of Iranian news to the international media.
Iran press law is so rigid that they have left the provisions of the judiciary open for the repression of the press and writers. The universal declaration of human rights emphasizes that everyone has the legal right to express their views and opinions. This law includes the right to express an opinion without any interference from governments.
According to article 19 of the universal declaration of human rights, ‘’ every one has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers’’.
in developed countries freedom of press and media emphasizes that all people have the right to express themselves, to speak and write in the media, a principle that is violated in countries with dictatorial regimes, including Iran.
Journalists are detained in Iran under such headings as propaganda against the regime, acting against national security, spreading fake news, insulting, collaborating with the hostile government and sometimes spying.
Iran is beside turkey, china, Syria and Vietnam among the largest prisons for journalists in the world. this reality annually forces several journalists to leave the country in order to save their lives. However, it is upsetting that Iranian officials in frequent international conferences claim that there is freedom of press in Iran and also there is no one in prison for expressing their opinion.
Here are a few basic facts about human rights violation and imprisoned journalists:
- Mohammad Sadiq Kabudivand, a Kurdish journalist and human right activist from qorveh was sentenced to 10 years in prison on charges of journalism and acting against national security in 2007 and was finally released after 9 years in prison.
Adnan hassan pour a Kurdish journalist from Marivan, was sentenced to death on charges of ‘’ waging war against God’’ and acting against national security and publishing news and he was finally sentenced to 15 years in prison during the appeal stage.
- Kamal Sharifi a Kurdish journalist from Saqqez, was sentenced to 30 years in prisons on charges of acting against national security and is currently being held in Minab prison.
- s Zeinab Bayazidi, a political activist from Mahabad and also a Kurdish journalist was sentenced to 4 years in prison on charges of acting against national security and publishing news.
- Arsalan Khodakam from Mahabad has been sentenced to death in march 2018 due to the espionage for the Kurdistan Democratic party of iran and is currently being held in urmia central prison.
- Hassan faraji from Bukan has been sentenced to death on charges of collaborating with a Kurdish party and is currently being held in Urmia central prison.
- Diako Sheikh Abdullah from Mahabad has been sentenced to death on charges of collaborating with the komala party and he is currently being held in Urmia central prison.
- Zanyar Moradi, from Marivan had been sentenced to death on charges of collaborating with the Komala party and he was being held in Rajaie Shahr prison in Karaj where he was executed on Saturday 8/9/2017.
- Ramin Hossein Panahi, from Dehgolan had been sentenced to death since 23/June/2017 on charges of collaborating and being a member of Komala and he was being held in Karaj central prison where he was executed on Saturday 8/9/2018.
- Loghman Moradi from Marivan had been sentenced to death since 4/8/2009 on charges of collaborating with the Komala party and was being held in Rajaie Shahr prison where he was executed on Saturday 8/9/2018.
- Reza Malazade from Salmas has been sentenced to death since the summer of 2011 on charges of collaborating with Kurdistan free life party (PJAK) and he is currently being held in Urmia central prison.
- Abdullah sarvarian a sunni from Sannandaj has been sentenced to death on charges of collaborating with the Kurdish party and spying. He is currently being held in Urmia central prison.
- Saber Rasoulzade from Mahabad has been sentenced to death since 3/3/2014 on charges of collaborating with the komala party and he is being held in Urmia central prison.
- Ali Ahmad Soleiman from south Kurdistan (Iraq), has been sentenced to death since 17/11/2005 on the charges of collaborating with the Kurdistan free life party (PJAK) and he is currently being held in Tabriz central prison.
- Kamal AhmadNejad from Miandoab had been imprisoned in Miandoab central prison since 2014 on charges of collaborating with the democratic party. He was executed on Monday 10/9/2018 in Miandoab central prison.
- Kamal Hassan Ramazan from Serikani has been sentenced to death since 28/8/2014 on charges of collaborating with the Kurdistan free life party (PJAK) and he is currently being held in Urmia central prison.
- Mostafa salimi from Saqqez had been sentenced to death since 5/4/2003 on charges of collaborating with the democratic party and was executed in April 2020 in the central Saqqez prison.
- Hedayat Abdollah Pour from Sheno (Oshnavieh) had been executed to death since July 2016 and he was executed in 10/6/2019 on charges of collaborating with the Komala party and he is currently being held in Urmia central prison.
- Hoshang Rezaie from Nahavand has been sentenced to death since 10/6/2019 on charges of collaborating with the Komala party and he is being held in Rajaie Shahr prison.
- Rahim Yosefi was executed in2020 in Naghade prison.
- Saman Karimi has been sentenced to death and 13 years prison. He is currently in prison.
- Zeinab Jalalian (born in 1982 in Mako), a Kurdish political activist was sentenced to death in 2009 on charges of ‘’waging war against God’’. Her sentence was reduced to life imprisonment in 2011. She has been in prison since 2007 and she has the most severe life imprisonment sentence (female life imprisonment) among female political prisoners.
- Farzad Kamangar (born in 1975) was a Kurdish teacher who was sentenced to death on charges of ‘’waging war against God’’. Although he denied all the allegations, he was hanged with four Kurdish political activists: Mehdi Islamian, Shirin Alame huli, Farhad Vakili, Ali Heidarian in Evin prison.
- Yavar Mohammad Salas, a Kurdish political prisoner and Gonabadi Dervish was sentenced to death. He had been executed in Rajaie Shahr central prison.
- All Kurdish political activist: Khosrov Besharat, Kamran Sheikh, Davood Adollahi, Farhad Salimi, Qasem abeste, Ayub Karimi and anwar Khezri have been sentenced to death.
- On the other hand, Heidar ghorbani a political prisoner from Kamyaran, who had previously been sentenced to 6 years prison, was sentenced to death by the Sannandaj judiciary.
- Also, Mohammad Sadeghi, the Heidar Ghorbani brother in law who was previously sentenced to 40 years and 6 months prison has had his sentence reduced to 25 years.
- Mohiadin Ebrahimi was sentenced to death on 18/1/2020.
- Hooshmand Alipour death sentence (Kurdish political activist from Sardasht) was announced to his family and also the 5 years prison sentence of Mohammad Ostad Qader from Saqqez was announced to his family and lawyer. The two political activists were trialed by the first branch of the Sannandaj revolutionary court on charges of negligence.
- Fereydon Zakeri Nasab a 29 years old man from sarpol Zahab has been sentenced to death for collaborating with Islamic Extremist groups. He was arrested 3 month ago during widespread arrests in Kurdistan. He is the head of Kung fu toa committee of Kermanshah province and has a master degree in business administration.
- Habibollah Latifi death sentence has been commuted to life imprisonment. He is 37 years old man who was the industrial engineering at Ilam university, he was arrested in 2007 and he was sentenced to endure more than 3 months of solitary confinement and has been physically tortured. after he was sentenced to death by the first branch of Sannandaj Islamic revolutionary tribunal, presided over by judge Hassan babaie. he was also accused of ‘’Waging war against God’’ and corruption on earth through collaborating with PJAK.
- Morteza Rahmani, a Kurdish political prisoner in Sannanjaj central prison, was transferred to solitary confinement to wait his death sentence. Morteza Rahmanifrom Kamyaran was arrested in 2009 and sentenced to death on charges of collaboration with a Kurdish opposition party. 8 Other Kurdish prisoners were also sentenced to death: 1. Soleiman mozzafari, born in 1963, son of Rahman and from Ravansar. Chrges: smuggling and transportation of weapons, Illegal entry to Iran using forged document. 2. Isail Sofi, born in 1985, son of Majid and from Sarpole Zahab. Charges: corruption, carrying and storing light and heavy weapons. 3. Rahman Behrozi, son of Karim from sarpol zahab. Charges: corruption on earth, forgery of identity card and national card, storage of several light and heavy weapons. 4. Majed mortezaie son of Hassan from paveh. Charges: corruption on earth subject to execution. 5. Sirus Azizi born in 1986, son of Abdul Khalegh and from Paveh. Charges: being of the Takfiri group. 6. Ayoub Ismaeli born in 1989, son of Hassan and from Salas Babajani. Charges: corruption on earth subject to execution, purchasing and transforming light and heavy weapon. 7. Khosro Ramezani Mir Ahmadi, son of Ahmad, born in 1980. Charges: corruption on earth, preparation and maintenance of several light and semi-heavy weapons and using forged document. 8. Osman behrouzi brother of Rahman Behrouzi, son of Karim, born in 1987. Charges: corruption on earth subject to execution, preparation and maintenance of several light and semi-heavy weapons and accommodating the assassination team.
- Some Kurdish women sentenced to death or executed: on Tuesday (1/8/2019) two Kurdish women were executed inUrmia central prison named Araste Ranjbar and Nazdar Vatan Khah.
- On Tuesday 11/1/2019 Malihe Salehian a Kurdish woman was executed in Mahabad central prison.
- On Thursday 26/9/2019 Leila Zar afshan was executed in Sannandaj central prison.
- On Tuesday 13/11/2018 Sharare Eliasi was executed in Sannandaj central prison.
- Kurdish prisoner Zeinab Sakavand born in 1992 hanged in Urmia prison.
- Faride Salehi who is now 55 years old has spent 17 years of her life in Marivan and Sannandaj.
- Jamile Sadeghi, a female prisoner from qorveh has been imprisoned in Sannandaj central prison for the past 15 years and has not been sent on leave, she is waiting her death sentence in prison.
- Other journalists include Baluch journalist and blogger Yaghub Mirnahad, who was executed on august 5,2008.
- Marzieh Amiri who is journalist was sentenced to 10 years and 6 months prison and 168 lashes and Negar Kiomars marzban was sentenced to 23 years prison.
According to the statistics 138 Kurdish prisoners have been executed in 2016 and also 90 Kurdish people have been executed in 2017 and 70 have been executed in 2018.
It should be noted that in Iran, journalists are accused of acting against national security, espionage, spreading lies and corruption on earth, which the punishment is death.
Regarding the status of journalist in Iran, the committee to protect journalists (CPJ) announced in 11/1/2019 that Iran is still in the list of the largest prisons for the journalists in the world.