IWMF: The moment is now to support women journalists in Iran

By Elisa Lees Muñoz | Originally Published: The Washington Post Press Freedom Partnership

Niloofar Hamedi and Elahe Mohammadi

At this very moment, women journalists in Iran are risking their lives and livelihoods as they continue to report on protests against the regime. The heightened deterioration of press freedom nationwide in the face of the resistance is putting women on the frontline, and they have the most to lose.

The Iranian crackdown on press freedom is targeting women journalists because of their work and their gender. Since civil unrest began after the death of Mahsa Amini, Iran has detained five times more women than male journalists. We hear about the threats, beatings, sexual assault, and raids as well as closed-door trials and dangerous isolation tactics from journalists’ families and their networks of allies – all this in retaliation of their coverage of the country’s protests; and, notably, their reporting on women.

These methods, which we’ve seen before, are systematic attempts to silence women’s voices and prevent them from bringing the truth to light.

Niloofar Hamedi and Elahe Mohammadi were among the first journalists arrested for drawing public attention to Amini’s death. Hamedi and Mohammadi went on trial last week for baseless, dangerous claims of “colluding with hostile powers.” The proceedings ended within two hours without allowing Hamedi and Mohammadi’s lawyers to offer a defense. We fear the worst: a death sentence for each woman.

Protecting women’s voices is vital to upholding press freedom, and democracy. We cannot sit idly by while journalists are intimidated and attacked for courageously holding power to account and sharing the stories of their community.

The IWMF asks governments, advocates and human rights organizations worldwide to join the global call to release Hamedi and Mohammadi, and to stand up for all of those detained because of their reporting. We cannot let Iran use gender and journalism as weapons. We must join together to support the battle against this campaign of terror.