Washington, DC – “Iranian authorities regard photographers as spies,” said “EM,” an Iranian photojournalist who has recently sought refuge in France with the help of Reporters Without Borders. “The police came to my home. I was lucky because I was out reporting. I fled the country the same day. I left with my camera and a small bag. I crossed the border after nightfall.”
Reporters Without Borders (RWB), an international non-governmental organization based in France, has recently launched a campaign to aid fleeing journalists, like “EM” and bloggers in their struggle for a safe passage toward freedom. “In view of the scale of this exodus, [we are] launching an appeal for financial support for these journalists and bloggers, who find themselves utterly destitute as they search for a safe refuge.”
“The press freedom situation is getting worse by the day in Iran,” states RWB in their recent press release. “Journalists who have chosen not to the leave the country are being constantly threatened or summoned by the intelligence services, including the intelligence service of the Revolutionary Guards. Some have been given long prison sentences at the end of completely illegal judicial proceedings.”
As such, a large exodus of Iranian journalists has occurred. Many have sought refuge in countries such as Turkey, Iraq or Afghanistan, but even there they are subject to harassment, surveillance and possible extradition back to Iran, creating a very real humanitarian crisis.
Donations to this campaign “will help to pay for their air tickets and other forms of travel, and for food, lodging and medical care.”
While also helping journalists seek refuge during trouble times, RWB has also supports those journalists whose fates have not been so fortunate. RWB is seeking justice for Zahra Kazemi, the Iranian-Canadian journalist who died while being held by Iranian authorities, by supporting her son, Stephan Hashemi, in his lawsuit against the Islamic Republic. Hashemi is seeking reparations in a Montreal court for “the detention, torture and death of his mother… in a Tehran prison in July 2003.”
If you would like to donate or find out more about these worthy causes, please visit Reporters Without Borders’ website here.