Wednesday 10 February 2010

Maziar Bahari: 'Repression has made every Iranian a citizen journalist'

Maziar Bahari, the Iranian-Canadian reporter for Newsweek who was imprisoned in Tehran, has written an open letter in the New York Times to Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei, imploring him to free jailed journalists.
Bahari writes: "I was unfortunate enough to know first hand how your agents treat journalists. I was kept in your jail for 118 days simply for being a reporter. For much of that time I was tortured...Many a time my torturer told me that he kicked me to make you happy. He told me, “Each time I slap you I can feel that the Master is smiling at me.” Ayatollah Khamenei, I think you are responsible for what happened to me.
"It is getting late for you to repair the damage done to our country. But it is still not too late. You can start by releasing imprisoned journalists."
He adds: "Even though your government has banned satellite television, a great number of Iranians still get their news from the BBC and Voice of America by using illegal satellite dishes. Currently your police may be able to find and punish dish owners. But soon the dishes will become smaller and cheaper and everyone will be able to have one in the safety of their homes.
"By arresting accredited journalists your government has made every Iranian a citizen journalist. Your government has blocked most Web sites that are critical of your government, but Iranians have learned to use filter-busters to access them. Your government has narrowed the Internet bandwidth and has passed cyber crime laws, but that has not stopped your compatriots from using the Internet to inform the world about the situation of their country. YouTube, Twitter and Facebook are full of the latest news about the crimes of your regime."
Reporters Without Borders estimates than more than 60 journalists and bloggers are being held in Iran's jails.

No comments: