Nabz News Review - February 25, 2014

FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION

When it comes to freedom of speech and expression, Iran is rated 174 out of 179 in the world. One of the core elements of a free society is the ability to actively and openly express opinion and political beliefs, but unfortunately in Iran this type of action is prohibited and can have extreme consequences if exercised. When it comes to openly discussing Iran’s nuclear program for example, since 2005 the Iranian government has ordered the media to only release official news about the country's nuclear program. In recent statement from Kayvan Khosravi, the Spokesperson for the Supreme National Security Council Secretariat, cautioned the media not to publish news quoting any authorities regarding news that pertains to the nuclear program other than the Supreme Security Council’s Secretariat office. Khosravi said, “Any action that would lead to the publication of such resolutions will be prosecutable as a criminal act.” Last December, in what was the Rouhani administration's first official restriction on information, the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance conveyed the SNSC’s “gag order” to the media, prohibiting them from reporting “unofficial” news about the nuclear issue. The administration is even pushing back against hardline conservative journalists and supporters of the Supreme Leader. This week, the Rouhani administration filed a complaint against Hossein Ghadiani for his criticism of the Geneva agreement between Iran and 5+1.

 

In an attempt to push back and open space for discussion, on February 15, Radio Zamaneh organized a panel in Amsterdam, the Netherlands to discuss a new initiative spearheaded by Iranian human rights lawyer and Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi which aims to promote discussion on positive and negative side effects of Iran’s nuclear program. Ebadi believes that this deprives people from their right to know and to express their opinion on their country’s affairs. The campaign aims to encourage the Iranian media, academics and activists abroad to use their platforms and open the discussion about different aspects of the nuclear program.

 

Mahmoud Dowlatabadi
FREEDOM OF THE PRESS

This month, after much speculation, “The Colonel,” a book by Iranian prominent writer Mahmoud Dowlatabadi was rejected for publication by the Culture and Islamic Guidance Ministry. “The Colonel”, which has been translated and published in many languages outside Iran, but is not available in Persian for Iranians, tells the story of Iran before the 1979 revolution through the eyes of an army colonel. Similarly, on February 12, the Publishers Surveillance Committee rejected the appeal of the Nashr Cheshmeh Publishing Company and found it guilty and suspended its permit for publishing for two years. For two years ago, the Culture and Islamic Guidance Ministry stopped reviewing books submitted by publishing houses and suspended their permits.  These events are disappointing to many Iranian writers who very recently started to believe their books might pass the wall of censorship.

On February 20, the Aseman newspaper was shut down  after releasing only six issues. An article published in the last issue of the newspaper criticized Qisas (meaning retaliation as followed by to the Islamic principle of an eye-for-eye) the law of retaliation, calling it inhumane. Authorities believed that this was an insult to Quran and arrested the editor and chief of the newspaper following the release of the article. A recent report from Reporters Without Borders notes that despite the optimisms and promises made by the Rouhani government to ease censorship and allow for more freedom of information and expression, Iran remains one of the top five countries to imprison journalists.