The Islamic Republic of Iran arrested, imprisoned, or executed at least 860 journalists in the three decades between the 1979 revolution and 2009, according to leaked Iranian justice department documents, the Paris-based Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said on Thursday.
February 7 marks the 40th anniversary of the Iranian Revolution that ended the monarchy and led to the creation of the Islamic Republic, RadioFreeEurope/Radio Liberty reported.
At a news conference in Paris, RSF revealed that whistle-blowers had passed on 1.7 million records detailing judicial proceedings against Iranian citizens.
The media rights group had spent months cross-checking the records against its own documentation and found that tens of thousands of Iranian citizens – including minorities, opposition members, journalists, and individuals accused of non-political crimes – have been illegally detained, tortured, and executed by the regime.
“The file is a register of all the arrests, imprisonments, and executions carried out by the Iranian authorities in the Tehran area over three decades,” said RSF Secretary-General Christophe Deloire.
“After months of detailed research work on the file’s entries, RSF is in a position to say that at least 860 journalists and citizen-journalists were arrested, imprisoned, and in some cases executed by the Iranian regime between 1979 and 2009, the period on which RSF focused its research,” he explained.
Deloire said the group had identified at least four journalists who were executed, including Simon Farzami, a Swiss-Iranian of Jewish origin, who was bureau chief of the French news agency Agence France-Presse when he was arrested in 1980.
The files also revealed that 61,900 political prisoners have been held by Iran since the 1980s. At least 520 of them were aged between 15 and 18 at the time of their arrest, the watchdog said. In addition, they found evidence of a prison massacre in 1988, in which several thousand political prisoners were executed based on a fatwa by Iran’s revolutionary leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
The watchdog said that journalists have been detained on “spurious charges,” such as “collaborating with an enemy foreign state,” “activity against domestic security,” “anti-government propaganda,” and “spying.” Other charges included “insulting what is sacred and Islam” and “insulting the supreme leader.”
RSF noted that most of the journalists and activists were denied their basic rights, including access to a lawyer and contact with their families. The data revealed that they were also subjected to mistreatment and torture.
Deloire said the organization would refer their records to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in the hope he would take action to hold Iran accountable for those crimes.
“The very existence of this file and its millions of entries show not only the scale of the Iranian regime’s mendacity…but the relentless machinations it used for 40 years to persecute men and women for their opinions or their reporting,” Deloire said.
[Photo: گزارشی از بند قرنطینه زنان در زندان اوین / YouTube ]