Two women journalists in Iran, saw an injustice and did what independent journalists are supposed to do— they reported on it. Now they are in jail for ‘espionage’, a crime that has a death penalty.
Reporters Niloofar Hamedi and Elahe Mohammadi reported on Mahsa Amini, the young Kurdish Iranian woman, who died Sept. 16 after being detained in Tehran by the Islamic “morality police” for an alleged headscarf violation.
Her death set off a nationwide uprising led by women.
Government authorities arrested Ms. Hamedi on Sept. 22 and Ms. Mohammadi on Sept. 29. They were accused of being CIA spies and “primary sources of news for foreign media.” The espionage charge is punishable by the death penalty.
A statement from the Iranian intelligence services claimed the CIA orchestrated the journalists’ reporting, joined by British and Israeli spies. The statement warned that the “super spy services” had laid the groundwork for and instigated the mass protests.
The women’s uprising was sparked in part by photographs from the hospital where Mahsa died, which went viral on social media and triggered a massive outpouring of pent-up frustration and anger at the Islamic theocracy. The Iranian authorities passed off the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini as ‘a heart attack’. Her family said she was beaten by police. Her death appears to have brought a wave of young Iranians to the streets.
Ms. Hamedi, a reporter with the reformist daily newspaper ‘Shargh,’ published a widely circulated report from Kasra hospital, where Mahsa died, and also shared a photo of Amini’s distraught family.
According to the Washington post, Ms. Mohammadi, a journalist with Ham Mihan, a daily newspaper aligned with Iran’s reformist politicians, reported from Amini’s funeral in her hometown of Saqqez in the northwestern Kurdistan province. Security forces attacked mourners when they shouted anti-regime slogans and women removed their mandatory headscarves.
No one should believe such nonsensical charges, even for a minute. The two journalists were doing their job, and Amini’s death was reported by others as well. The arrest of the women journalists says a lot about Iran’s security agencies. They had to concoct a wild CIA plot, when even the most basic intelligence gathering would reveal that the streets are filled with discontent.
Six weeks after Amini’s death, students clashed with police in Tehran on Sunday,(October 30) and on Monday authorities announced plans to hold a ‘public trial’ for 1,000 people accused of fomenting unrest. Overall, at least 270 people have died and 14,000 have been arrested since the protests began.
It is obvious that Iran is facing generation in revolt. Iran’s leadership is in denial, looking for scapegoats among journalists and the CIA. This is a dead end.
What will end the unrest? Giving the Iranian people the freedoms they demand — and have longed for.
THIS PIECE WAS CONTRIBUTED BY ASHIT BORA, A MEDIA STUDENT FROM GUWAHATI, BASED ON MEDIA REPORTS