30 January 2008
Commission suspends leading feminist magazine; journalist summoned, three
others acquitted over attendance at March 2007 demonstration
SOURCE: Reporters sans frontières (RSF), Paris
**New case and update to alerts on the Bani Yaghoub case of 16 April, 26,
12 and 8 March 2007; updates alerts on the Amini, Govarayee and the
Tahmassebi cases of 12 and 8 March 2007**
(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders condemns a decision by the
Commission for Press Authorisation and Surveillance on 28 January 2008 to
suspend the feminist monthly "Zanan" ("Women" in Farsi) for "publishing
information detrimental to society's psychological tranquillity."
The press freedom organisation is also concerned about a summons received
by Jila Bani Yaghoub of the daily "Sarmayeh" on 23 January from a Tehran
revolutionary court in connection with a case for which she was arrested in
"The Commission for Press Authorisation and Surveillance is the judiciary's
right arm in its crusade against news media that stray from the official
line," Reporters Without Borders said. "It has been responsible for the
suspension of many publications which the courts subsequently close down
for good, often imprisoning their journalists. In Iran, the right to
information is still seen as a threat to national security."
The commission accused "Zanan" of "offering a sombre picture of the Islamic
Republic," "compromising its readers' mental health" and "publishing
morally questionable information." Editor Shahla Sherkat, who disputes the
legal validity of the charges, said she had not yet been officially
notified of the suspension. Regarded as the country's leading feminist
magazine, it has been a forum for debating Iranian society's most
controversial topics since its creation 16 years ago.
Dozens of news outlets have been suspended by the commission since Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad became president. Deputy state prosecutor Nasser Saraji told
the official news agency ISNA in October 2007 that the commission had
suspended 42 publications and cancelled 24 licences since 2005. Other
newspapers have been temporarily or provisionally suspended by the courts.
Those suspended since October include "Krafto", "Ashati", "Arzesh",
"Bilmaj" and "Madareseh".
Yaghoub is being prosecuted for covering a women's demonstration on 4 March
2007, when she was arrested and held for three days. She is charged with
"participating in an illegal demonstration," "activity against national
security" and "publicity against the Islamic Republic."
Other journalists and cyber-feminists who attended the demonstration are
also still being prosecuted. But journalist and blogger Asieh Amini (
http://www.varesh.blogfa.com ), independent journalist Fatemeh Govarayee
and activist Susan Tahmassebi, the editor of the English-language version
of www.we4change.info ( http://www.we4change.info ) were acquitted on 21
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