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Iranian journalists to hold protest sit-in against "pressures"

According to reports by Islamic Repubic News Agency (IRNA), Iranian journalists will gather in Tehran on Thursday to voice their protest against mounting pressures on the country' writers, including in the press and cinema, a member of the presiding board of the Iranian Journalists Association (IJA), Ahmad Zeydabadi, said here Wednesday.

The participants will protest to the "prolonged detention of journalists Alireza Eshraqi and Akbar Ganji as well as confrontation with journalists and cinema writers", he said.

"Given the mounting extent of limitations (for journalists) and violation of the rights of the presspersons and summoning, detention and interrogation of cinema writers in recent days, a protest meeting will be held," Zeydabadi added.

He described the sit-in as a venue for raising up the "stockpiled problems of the journalists" and said the participants will have no limitations to discuss their points whatsoever.

Zeydabadi urged a strong show-up in the function, saying an overwhelming participation will help a collective decision be taken to ease pressures.

Eshraqi, who worked at the now-banned daily Hayat-e No, was detained in January in connection with the publication of a controversial cartoon which is said had insulted the founder of the Islamic Revolution, late Imam Khomeini.

The cartoon triggered angry protests in capital Tehran and the religious city of Qom, where some of the protestors wore blood-soaked shrouds and carried black flags as a sign of mourning.

Ganji is serving a six-year jail term since January 2001 on a battery of charges, including for linking some of the country's top officials to a string of murders of Iranian intellectuals, which were blamed on rogue intelligence agents.

Iranian courts have arrested and tried scores of the country's journalists and closed down their publications, mostly on charges of inciting public opinion and publishing lies.

Meanwhile, cinema writers and film critics Saeed Mostaghasi, Kambiz Kaheh, Amir Ezzati, Mohammad Abdi and Sepideh Abr-Aviz were reportedly arrested last week on yet unspecified charges.

On Wednesday, a film critic denounced the arrests and described them as "suspicious confrontations".

"The arrested individuals were not involved much in political, military and social issues and the ambiguities surrounding the cases have made the issue of the arrests more complicated."

... Payvand News - 3/5/03 ... --

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