Reporters without borders denounce Iranian Authorities banning of crackdown coverage

Reporters without borders denounce Iranian Authorities banning of crackdown coverage

A recent report published by Reporters without Borders on Friday April 22, condemned the use of force by the Iranian authorities to contain demonstrations a week ago in the south-western province of Arabistan and their ban on news coverage of the bloody clashes that took place. Both the national and international media were prevented from covering the incidents. The crackdown has continued this week with several arrests of media contributors.

According to the report The Iranian government hypocritically defends freedom of information about the violence taking place in neighbouring countries such as Bahrain, where blood has been shed to crush anti-government demonstrations, but imposes a complete news blackout on the deadly clashes between members of the Arab minority and security forces in Arabistan, cutting it off from the rest of the world and denying access to both independent and state media reporters.

Calls were issued on the Internet and online social networks for demonstrations on 15 April in the provincial capital of Ahwaz to mark the sixth anniversary of the violent clashes that took place on 15 April 2005 between the security forces and members of the Arab community, who are the majority in province.

Members of the security forces fired live rounds into a spontaneous demonstration by young people on 14 April, killing three demonstrators. When the protests continued the next day, they were brutally crushed by Revolutionary Guards in several districts of the city including Haisohari, Coy Alvaieh and Cot Abdullah.

Round-ups of activists had already begun before the calls for demonstrations had been issued, and the arrests are continuing. According to some sources, at least 97 people are being held in prisons in and around Ahwaz, including Sepidar and Zyton (a secret detention centre controlled by the intelligence ministry).

Shirin Ebadi, the 2003 Nobel peace laureate, wrote to United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay on 18 April requesting her intervention. “We have no information about the fate of the prisoners,” she wrote. “The security forces have forced the families of the victims to remain silent”.