Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury
Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury
Multi award winning anti-militancy journalist

Sisters of exiled journalist tortured in Iran

Cruel mullah regime in Iran is infamous for its extreme atrocities and repeated violation of human rights. Female prisoners are regularly tortured and raped inside Iranian prisons by the prison guards and also the notorious Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC). Now we have terrible information about torture of two sisters of an exiled journalist.

According to media sources, two sisters of an exiled journalist and pro-democracy activist Satar Araszadeh, who currently is living in Norway were summoned by Oshnavieh Intelligence in northwestern Iran, where they were interrogated and tortured for eight hours.

The two sisters named Hajar Araszadeh (41) and Kolsum Araszadeh (38) have been constantly summoned by Oshnavieh Intelligence agents for the past two years. The Iranian intelligence agents demanded the two sisters to ask their brother to stop activities abroad.

Commenting on the continuous intimidation of the Arszadeh sisters, Hengaw Organization said: “The last time the sisters were summoned, they were asked to sign a written document. When they did not, they were harassed and tortured. Hajar’s arms were seriously injured”.

Satar Araszadeh went to Norway in 2011 as a refugee. He is active in the Friheten, Radikal Portal, and Utrop newspapers, writing of events in Kurdistan, in Norwegian. He also wrote a book in 2015 and is working on a second one.

Iran International in a statement revealing Iranian regime’s cruelty on journalists said: Following the revelation about the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Intelligence Ministry’s plot to kidnap Iranian-American journalist Massih Alinejad from New York city from, as well as abducting other Iranian journalists from Canada and the United Kingdom, international journalists unions and writers associations have voiced outrage.

 Iranian journalists working abroad have also lashed out at the Iranian government for the shameful plot and similar moves such as the abduction of journalist Rouhollah Zam from France and activist Jamshid Sharmahd from Germany.

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) wrote in a tweet: Four Iranian nationals were indicted yesterday on charges of plotting to abduct journalist Masih Alinejad in New York and smuggle her out of the country to Iran. We stand in solidarity with Massih Alinejad and press freedom.”

In a reply to the post, Twitter user Alex Fernando wrote: ” It’s finally the time for all of us to stand firm and stand united against the Islamic Republic of Iran, and together put an end to 40+ years of fear, darkness, killings and tortures. Enough is enough.” Many Iranian users also wrote similar notes in Persian or English on social media all day on Wednesday.

 Reporters Without Borders (RSF) wrote in a series of tweeted: “As news breaks today that Iranian intelligence agents plotted to abduct exiled journalist and women’s rights activist, Massih Alinejad, RSF condemns this treacherous plot to silence a journalist who has long been critical of the regime in Tehran”.

Earlier this week, RSF had called for an international commission of enquiry into the persecution of journalists in Iran as judicial system has been entrusted to Gholam Hossein Mohseni-Ejei, a hardline judge implicated in the murder of Iranian-Canadian journalist Zahra Kazemi in custody in Iran in July 2003.

Meanwhile, the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) in the United Kingdom, “called for end to harassment of journalists by Iranian state”.

The NUJ wrote on its website: “The case in New York is a salutary reminder of the dangers posed by agents of the Iranian state to journalists…The audacious plot to kidnap Brooklyn-based journalist, Masih Alinejad, smuggle her out of the city on a speedboat, sail to Venezuela and then fly to Tehran shows the extraordinary lengths to which the regime will go to in order to silence their critics and send a chilling message to journalists around the world”,

The NUJ added: “We know this is not an isolated case, and the NUJ continues to campaign against the ongoing threats and harassment made to our members here in the UK, working at various newsrooms including…Iran International and the BBC Persian Service. They have been put under inordinate strain, their relatives back in Iran have been weaponised and threatened, and family assets have been frozen. This criminalisation of journalists has to stop, and we continue to work with the International Federation of Journalists at the UN and directly with governments to put an end to this harassment”.

Meanwhile, Iranian journalists based in Europe condemned the act by the Islamic Republic. Firoozeh Jabani wrote that “The way the Islamic Republic suppresses journalists has not changed. It is totally antique and ragged.”

Sima Sabet wrote that “With the money the Islamic Republic spent to abduct Massih Alinejad, it could have purchased 150,000 doses of Astra Zeneca COVID-19 vaccines”.

Kambiz Hosseini, a well-known political satirist wrote that the plot to abduct Massih Alinejad showed the significance of her activism.” And journalist Jamshid Barzegar wrote: “During recent months US and UK authorities had warned some Iranian journalists about possible actions by the Islamic Republic. Massih Alinejad was one of those journalists, but she continued her work even more bravely than before”.

United Against Nuclear Iran in a statement said: The Iranian regime is one of the world’s worst persecutors of journalists and suppressors of journalism. Tehran imprisons, harasses, and surveils journalists and their families; censors reporting—both directly and by intimidating journalists into self-censoring; and prevents the dissemination of journalism by blocking access to social media and jamming satellite-television signals. Iran’s war on journalists and journalism reflects the Islamic Republic’s fear of public knowledge of—and resistance to—its systemic malfeasance, mismanagement, and repression.

It further said: The Iranian regime routinely harasses domestic and foreign journalists and their Iran-based families in order to coerce members of the press to self-censor. Intelligence and judiciary officials have summoned the family members of Iranian journalists working abroad and conveyed that the journalists must immediately “stop collaborating with enemy media.” The regime also commonly imprisons, freezes and seizes the assets of, demotes (if government employees), or confiscates the passports of journalists’ relatives to pressure members of the press to self-censor. Additionally, the authorities have forced family members to go on state television and slander journalists to whom they are related. Tehran also seeks to impede journalism by harassing Iran-based sources for international outlets to impede journalism. Additionally, Iranian journalists based abroad receive death threats.

Journalists also cannot operate legally in Iran without getting government accreditation, which is frequently frozen or rescinded. The regime has outright prohibited some foreign agencies from reporting in Iran, and has denied entry to certain foreign journalists and expelled others.

Iranian law prohibits private broadcasters, and the regime also bans the use of satellite dishes and jams foreign satellite television channels, including news outlets like BBC Persian Television and the Voice of America’s Farsi-language networks. The government, via its National Cyberspace Council, tries to obstruct online journalism further by blocking access to multiple social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Telegram, and WhatsApp, and banning circumvention software.

According to information, Iran has a Basij “Cyber Council,” Cyber Police, and a Cyber Army –all presumed to be controlled by the IRGC—tasked with monitoring, identifying, and countering citizens’ activities on officially banned social networking sites such as Telegram, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

About the Author
Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury is a multi award winning anti-militancy pro-Israel journalist and editor of Weekly Blitz. Choudhury served rigorous imprisonment for 7 years for the "crimes" of confronting radical Islam and militancy; for denouncing anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial; for promoting interfaith harmony; and for advocating relations between Israel and Bangladesh. In 2005, Shoaib Choudhury received 'Freedom to Write' award from PEN USA, in 2006 prestigious 'Moral Courage Award' from American Jewish Committee, in 2007 'Monaco Media Award' from Prince Albert II, amongst many other awards and recognitions.
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