The Honorable SECRETARY GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
United Nations Headquarters
New York, New York
In the Name of Free Pen
December 2, 2009
Oneness of mankind
All Adam's race are members of one frame;
Since all, at first, from the same essence came.
When by hard fortune one limb is oppressed,
The other members lose their wonted rest:
If thou feel'st not for others' misery,
A son of Adam is no name for thee.
The Gulistan (The Rose Garden)
We, the undersigned journalists, are deeply
concerned and troubled about the fate of Iran's journalism community.
Long before but especially since, the elections of June 2009, the regime in Tehran has clamped down on freedom of press and assembly. In 2008, more than 400 individuals, writers, journalists, and reporters, left Iran under mounting pressure. According to a report in the New York Times of October 12, 2009, nearly 2000 journalists have recently lost their jobs. The Paris-based organization Reporters without Border has reported that more journalists have fled Iran in the last year than during the first years after the 1979 Revolution. While these journalists have lost their livelihoods, the Iranian regime spends millions of dollars to causes unrelated to Iran's national interests.
Since June 2009, as Iran's civil society has been indiscriminately attacked by the Islamic Republic of Iran, dozens of well known journalists-men and women- have been arrested on charges of acting against Iran's national security. They have been imprisoned, put in solitary confinement, and tortured severely. Among them is Dr. Ahmad Zeidabadi, who, after undergoing torture in Evin prison for six months, has now been sentenced to five years of exile in a remote area of Iran. Another veteran journalist, the 78-year old Siamak Pourzand, is in critical health (after having undergone physical and psychological torture in the past) and is not allowed to leave Iran to see his wife and daughters. Many more have been forced to pay hefty bails while others are facing uncertainty. Under pressure, others have chosen self-exile in different European and neighboring countries.
Numerous journals and newspapers have been shut down. Yet, editors and journalists do their utmost to report and publish under very difficult conditions.
We ask that on the eve of Human Rights Day, December 10, you demand from the officials and authorities of the Islamic Republic of Iran to end the abuse of the basic rights of journalists and allow a free press in Iran. The IRI is signatory to the UN Human Rights Charter and the words of the Iranian poet Sa'adi adorn the Hall of Nations, "All Adams' children are limbs of one another..." Yet in every instance, the regime harasses the best of Iran's journalists, editors and their families and denies them their most basic human rights.
Therefore, we urge you to demand that freedom of press be observed and honored in Iran. We ask that all prisoners of conscience and especially Iranian journalists be freed.
Sholeh Shams Shahbaz
Farahmand Ali Pour
Farzaneh Bazr Pour
Mohammad Ali Tofighi
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