A new documentary film following the courageous journalists behind India’s only all-female-run news organization provides an essential portrait of the fight for press freedom — and illustrates the lengths to which some reporters are willing to go to expose difficult truths in the face of incredible obstacles.
“Writing With Fire,” by wife-and-husband team Rintu Thomas and Sushmit Ghosh, tells the story of one of the world’s most improbable newsrooms, Khabar Lahariya, an all-online news operation in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. “The reporters are all Dalit, Muslim or from other marginalized communities. It’s important that the reporting voice is of marginalized rural women, that’s the objective of the work,” Thomas tells me.… Seguir leyendo »
This past weekend, Iran’s most prominent human rights defender, Nasrin Sotoudeh, entered the hospital because of heart and respiratory problems resulting from a nearly six-week-long hunger strike. Sotoudeh is a veteran of this extreme form of protest, but this time the circumstances are much more dire for her and other political prisoners in the country.
On Aug. 12, the 57-year-old lawyer stopped eating to protest the scandalous mistreatment of prisoners of conscience currently detained in Iran. The refusal of Iranian authorities to take any meaningful precautions to protect the health of political prisoners during the novel coronavirus pandemic dramatizes the depths of the government’s contempt for civil society and basic human rights.… Seguir leyendo »
In 2017, Robert Mugabe, the autocrat who held power in Zimbabwe since he helped it gain independence in 1980, was toppled in a coup orchestrated by his vice president, Emmerson Mnangagwa. Millions of Zimbabweans hoped for a more prosperous and free future.
“When they finally removed Mugabe from power, people were ecstatic and they gave Emmerson the benefit of the doubt,” Angela Quintal, Africa Program Coordinator at the Committee to Protect Journalists, told me. “They were prepared to believe that he could change. Among those were people like Hopewell Chin’ono.”
Chin’ono is a journalist who recently spent several weeks in jail.… Seguir leyendo »
“Some regimes oppress people so much that, one day, they are toppled for reasons that never occurred to them,” journalist Bahman Ahmadi Amouee writes in his devastating memoir, “Life in Prison,” in which he chronicles the years he spent as a political prisoner in Iran, from 2009 to 2014. Those words hold an important lesson for Iran today.
The arrest and long-term detention of prisoners of conscience is a tradition that goes back centuries in Iran — as it does everywhere. Now, mass arrests are experiencing a tragic revival, putting at risk thousands of people guilty of no other crime than protesting the Islamic Republic’s abuses of power.… Seguir leyendo »
La misma crisis de salud global que está fomentando el resurgimiento de gobiernos autoritarios por todo el mundo, cobró la vida de tres periodistas encarcelados el mes pasado.
Mohamed Monir en Egipto, David Romero en Honduras y Azimjon Askarov en Kirguistán vinieron de diferentes lugares del mundo. Sin embargo, cada uno pasó su vida expresando su desacuerdo y crítica en lugares donde hacer eso significó un gran riesgo personal.
Sus muertes evitables reafirman el hecho de que no existe otro evento o tendencia política en memoria reciente que haya sido más destructivo para la libertad de prensa que la pandemia del COVID-19.… Seguir leyendo »
On Monday, a court in Manila convicted Filipino American journalist Maria Ressa of something called “cyber libel.” Her case will have severe ramifications for press freedom not only in South Asia but around the world.
“Today a court in the Philippines became complicit in a sinister action to silence a journalist for exposing corruption and abuse,” Amal Clooney, Ressa’s London-based lawyer, said in a statement with co-counsel Caoilfhionn Gallagher. “This conviction is an affront to the rule of law, a stark warning to the press, and a blow to democracy in the Philippines.”
Clooney also called on the U.S. government to “take action to protect their citizen and the values of their Constitution.”… Seguir leyendo »
Nearly three months into its coronavirus lockdown, India is continuing its transformation into one of the world’s most dangerous places to be a journalist.
While Prime Minister Narendra Modi didn’t quite manage to pass legislation completely banning independent coverage at the outset of the pandemic, the journalistic climate has been steadily deteriorating regardless.
Small media outlets are suffering financially. Restrictions on movement prevent reporters from getting to the story. And any journalists who dare to question the Modi government’s official line face threats and intimidation. All this is eroding what was once one of the world’s most vibrant media landscapes.
While online attacks against prominent and critical voices with large social media followings have received growing international attention, other journalists working in remote corners of the country, who routinely face threats on their lives, get far less publicity.… Seguir leyendo »
Many leaders around the world are itching to resume normal life after the devastating economic effects of the pandemic. Yet it is Iran, of all countries, that seems to be moving forward the most aggressively. This week it will be the first large country to resume many normal routines.
In February and March, Iran was hit particularly hard by the quick spread of the covid-19 virus. Its rapid spread caught Iranian society completely off guard, overrunning hospitals with tens of thousands of sick patients. Since then, authorities have implemented measures that slowed transmission rates.
Yet there is still widespread uncertainty about whether those measures justify the push to abandon lockdowns and other measures put in place to limit the spread.… Seguir leyendo »
Iranians are preparing to celebrate the biggest holiday of the year — even as they confront an expanding coronavirus pandemic. The combination is likely to result in calamity.
Nowruz, when Iranians mark the transition from winter to spring, is the equivalent of New Year’s and Christmas rolled into one. Most institutions in the country shut down for two weeks. Those who can afford it usually chose this time to travel. With foreign air routes mostly shut to Iran because of the virus, that travel was already destined to be almost entirely domestic. Many use the opportunity to make religious pilgrimages, which can result in huge crowds congregating at particular sites.… Seguir leyendo »
Sometimes, extraordinary circumstances can yield diplomatic breakthroughs. We might be on the cusp of achieving that with Iran.
The coronavirus has hit the country particularly hard. Not only did the authorities lie for many days about the severity of the outbreak, which led to Iran becoming one of the global epicenters of the disease, but sanctions on the economy have also limited the country’s ability to adequately address the crisis.
It’s clear that Iran needs help and the United States and other developed countries could provide it. The Iranian regime is not known for being receptive to aid or advice from the international community — it has stubbornly stuck to its ideological guns through war, earthquakes, etc.… Seguir leyendo »
On Friday, the Iranian government finally began to acknowledge what the world already knows: the covid-19 virus has hit that country extremely hard and it’s likely to get much worse.
In a televised news conference, the spokesman for Iran’s coronavirus task force announced that 4,700 cases of the virus have now been confirmed, including more than 1,200 in the previous 24 hours. The official death count stands at 124.
The ways in which key leaders’ responses differ from those of ordinary citizens tell you everything you need to know about the deepening gulf between the Iranian people and their government and how it might contribute to the spread of the disease.… Seguir leyendo »
The Islamic Republic of Iran’s inept and dishonest response to the initial outbreak of the Wuhan coronavirus is exacerbating an already dangerous situation. Now it is arguably threatening to spark a regional epidemic as well.
Under Iran’s theocratic rule, where human life holds little value, the state’s lackadaisical response was completely predictable.
On Monday, a member of Iran’s parliament claimed that the death toll from the virus in the region he represents has already reached 50 people, far surpassing the 12 deaths the country’s health ministry has confirmed.
His district, Qom, is the epicenter of the coronavirus in Iran.
As the country’s religious capital, home to many seminaries as well as an important Shiite pilgrimage site, Qom is a bustling city of over a million people that receives an estimated 22.5 million visitors each year.… Seguir leyendo »
Friday, the Islamic Republic of Iran is holding parliamentary elections. Expect Iranians to use the moment to send a powerful message to their government.
Spoiler alert: It won’t be a vote of confidence.
The elections are taking place at a time of extraordinary volatility. Last year, a wave of massive street protests ended with the deaths of hundreds of Iranians. Authorities predictably blamed the unrest on foreign agitators.
Then, in early January, came the targeted killing of Iran’s most influential military commander, Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani, in a U.S. drone strike in Baghdad.
Days later, as the regime allowed civilian aircraft to fly during a retaliatory raid on U.S.… Seguir leyendo »
Environmentalists are the latest target of crackdowns by a powerful yet paranoid faction of the Iranian regime that seems to believe that progress of any kind is a threat to the Islamic Republic’s national security. This assault on science is the most ridiculous of many such campaigns conducted by hardliners in the past, but the stakes, arguably, have never been higher.Several conservationists were arrested earlier this year. One of them — Kavous Seyed-Emami, a dual Iranian-Canadian national — died mysteriously after several weeks in custody. Iranian authorities say he died by suicide, but few are convinced.
His death rightly unleashed an uproar.… Seguir leyendo »
Iran has long been a leader in the ugly industry of silencing journalists within and beyond its borders, but Saudi Arabia’s murder of Jamal Khashoggi inside the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul earlier this month eclipses even Tehran’s depraved treatment of reporters.
Theoretically, the Saudis’ blunder could give Iran a rare opportunity to improve its international standing by correcting its abysmal record on free expression and distancing itself from the growing repression of the media by its Arab and Turkish neighbors.
Early indications, though, are that Iran is determined to continue its tradition of silencing reporters on the flimsiest charges. The detention of journalist Pouyan Khoshhal is the latest example.… Seguir leyendo »
Two journalists in Myanmar have been imprisoned for nearly a year for after exposing the massacre of Rohingya Muslims. But this isn’t just a story about press freedom. It also underscores some of the greatest challenges facing the relationship between governments and the people they govern.
“We’re seeing more and more laws that criminalize speech and increasingly zealous prosecution under those laws in many countries,” human rights lawyer Amal Clooney told me last week in New York. “Governments who are not well-meaning will do whatever they can get away with. So the question is: Is there a proper international response? Do they have something to fear?… Seguir leyendo »
Even though Iran has long been involved in disinformation, it hasn’t exactly managed to distinguish itself in the field. Iranian propaganda is generally a mess.
That history offers a useful filter for this week’s revelations from Facebook, Twitter and now Google about Iran’s disinformation campaigns on social media.
Working with our industry peers today, we have suspended 284 accounts from Twitter for engaging in coordinated manipulation. Based on our existing analysis, it appears many of these accounts originated from Iran.
— Twitter Safety (@TwitterSafety) August 22, 2018
A familiar paradox presents itself: The same country that shuns the notion of free expression at home is happy to turn other countries’ free media to its own benefit.… Seguir leyendo »
On Friday, 18 influential Iranian women living in the West, published an open letter to FIFA calling on the organization that governs international soccer to help put an end to a decades-old ban on women attending male sporting events in Iran.
The issue has become a major story line at this year’s World Cup being held in Russia, as women inside Iran push for the right to attend games freely. “The disconnect between the people of Iran and the government of Iran on this issue is glaring: Iran’s is a celebratory culture; even as the people face serious economic and political strains, they are jubilant as they watch their team,” the letter states.… Seguir leyendo »
On Wednesday, Iran’s leading human rights lawyer, Nasrin Sotoudeh, was arrested again. It was a reminder that President Hassan Rouhani is failing to deliver on many of the key reforms he promised when he was elected in 2013.
Writing on his Facebook page, Sotoudeh’s husband, Reza Khandan, announced that “a few hours ago Nasrin was arrested at home and sent to the court at Evin [Prison].”
This family has been through all of this before. “I once told interrogators in the interrogation room: ‘Of all the things the authorities should do for their country, you only know one, and that is arresting people,'” Khandan fearlessly wrote in his post.… Seguir leyendo »
Last weekend, as Nicaragua’s police brutally cracked down on protesters demonstrating against President Daniel Ortega, journalist Angel Gahona was presenting a related story on Facebook Live. During the middle of his report, a shot rang out. The image from his cellphone stopped working.
He had taken a bullet in the head. Shortly thereafter, he was pronounced dead on arrival at a local hospital. Yet another journalist killed for doing his job — while doing his job — as the state of free expression around the world continues its downward spiral.
Today, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) releases its 2018 World Press Freedom Index, an annual review of 180 countries and their relationship with the media.… Seguir leyendo »