RSF_en After Hengameh Shahidi’s pardon, RSF asks Supreme Leader to free all imprisoned journalists News News IranMiddle East – North Africa Online freedoms WomenViolenceInternet The Tehran prosecutor-general has confirmed Hengameh Shahidi’s arrest, accusing her of fleeing to Kish Island in the south of the country. This is denied by her family, who say she was arrested as she left the hospital where she had been treated for a heart ailment On 15 May, a few days after posting several tweets about her time in detention last year, Shahidi reported on Twitter that she had been summoned by the Tehran prosecutor’s office for culture and media for “insulting the head of the judicial system.” Iran is ranked 164th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2018 World Press Freedom Index. Several citizen-journalists were badly beaten by police and some were arrested while trying to film the demonstrations in Tehran on 25 and 26 June and the accompanying police violence. The demonstrators were protesting against the national currency’s devaluation and cost of living hikes. Téhéran © AFP Call for Iranian New Year pardons for Iran’s 21 imprisoned journalists March 18, 2021 Find out more IranMiddle East – North Africa Online freedoms WomenViolenceInternet Help by sharing this information Hengameh Shahidi’s arrest confirmed Receive email alerts Mohammad Hossien Hidari, the editor of Dolat e Bahar, a news website linked to the political current that supports controversial former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has meanwhile been held since 22 May. His family and lawyer still do not know what he is charged with. His website has been inaccessible since his arrest. He was previously arrested on 21 November 2017 after being summoned to the Tehran prosecutor’s office for culture and media, and was released pending trial after paying 100 million toman (about 90,000 euros) in bail. June 9, 2021 Find out more News to go further Reporters Without Borders condemns the police violence and arbitrary arrests to which citizen-journalists have been subjected during this week’s protests in Tehran. RSF also condemns the latest arrest of journalist and blogger Hengameh Shahidi and the continued detention of Mohammad Hossien Hidari, a journalist held illegally for the past two months. Speaking on BBC Persian, one of the citizen-journalists said: “I was filming the demonstration with my sister when riot police approached me. They wanted to confiscate my phone but I resisted. One of them hit me with his baton and I fell. People began gathering around us and the police left.” As the national and international media are banned from covering demonstrations, most of the videos and photos of this week’s protests that are available on social networks were shot by citizen-journalists, who are being deliberately targeted by the police. As is usually the case during major street protests, Internet access is being disrupted and connection speeds have been reduced to make it harder to upload video and circulate information about the protests. The editor of the Paineveste blog, Shahidi was first arrested on 9 March 2017. Although very ill, she went on several hunger strikes in protest against her detention and against the conditions in which she was held, and was finally released on 29 August 2017. News Iran: Press freedom violations recounted in real time January 2020 June 29, 2018 More harassment of journalists and citizen-journalists in Iran Follow the news on Iran Organisation February 25, 2021 Find out more
The status quo in the Middle East is “gloomy,” but doesn’t have to be. “We can do something about it,” Rima Khalaf told a Harvard crowd.Khalaf, a onetime United Nations official who was once deputy prime minister of Jordan, is the first visiting scholar at the Harvard Kennedy School‘s Middle East Initiative. The April 5 talk was the first in a series of lectures she will deliver, titled “How Can Arabs Reclaim Their Future?”Khalaf examined the challenges facing human development in the Arab world, along with ways those challenges can be met.There have been significant advances, she said, including declining rates of illiteracy. (A decade ago, 40 percent of the Arab world was illiterate; today only 27 percent is.) More people are in school, and more are connected to the Internet (about 9 percent). Infant mortality rates have declined by two-thirds in the past 30 years, while life expectancy rose from 50 to age 67, the world average.“But these achievements, important as they may be, should not blind us to what the numbers fail to measure,” said Khalaf.She offered some examples: “How meaningful is higher Internet access if a civil servant can decide for you the sites you … visit? How satisfied should a woman in Darfur be with a 10-year increase in her life expectancy when she can be forcibly displaced, violated, or raped?”Additionally, Khalaf argued, the numbers leave out critical aspects of human development, including freedom from fear and oppression and marginalization. In terms of such freedoms and human dignity, she said, Arab states have “probably achieved the least.”Palestinians forced to live under occupation are robbed of their freedom, said Khalaf, and most Arab nations lack important democratic elements, such as free and fair elections, an independent media, a vibrant civil society, and sound economic policies and investments designed to benefit average citizens, and not merely the select few.The absence of democratic government leads to corruption and a lack of innovation, and harms economic competitiveness, she said. Khalaf also warned that rising poverty and unemployment in the area could produce a “combustible mix.”“Arabs managed to varying degrees to free their people from hunger but not from fear,” said Khalaf. “They somewhat succeeded in building their people’s capabilities, but failed in providing them with the opportunities to utilize them. They enriched some, but marginalized many.”A main source of the problems involves the empowerment of women, she said. Arab countries have made advances, and many women have succeeded regionally or individually. But, Khalaf added, “Much more needs to be done to extend empowerment from the few to the broad base of women.”In the Arab world, “personal status laws” still legally sanction gender bias, said Khalaf. She argued that both societal and legal reforms are needed to bring men and women to an “equal footing,” and to guarantee a woman’s full rights of citizenship.Overall reform in the region will guarantee human development, said Khalaf. It’s a step that is “necessary, desirable, and indeed overdue,” and needs to include political, social, and economic change. “I strongly believe that we the peoples of the region have the capacities, the resources, and the political will to undertake such a project.”Khalaf’s next lectures will examine political reform and the development of knowledge societies in the Arab world. For more information.