Reporters Without Borders
Reporters Without Borders today called on women's media and women's rights groups around the world to rally to the defence of two Iraqi women journalists who have been arrested in the past eight days in connection with their work for pro-reform websites.
The latest arrest is that of Mahboudeh Abbasgholizadeh, the editor of Ferzaneh, a magazine about women's issues, who was detained on 1 November on her return from London, where she took part in the European Social Forum. Police searched her Tehran home, confiscating her computer hard drive and other items.
Fershteh Ghazi, who writes about women's issues and who works for the daily Etemad (which means "Trust" in Farsi), was arrested four days ealier, on 28 October, by the Edareh Amaken (a police force that concentrates on vice). She is reportedly accused of "immoral behaviour," a charge often brought against political prisoners in Iran.
In 2001, Ghazi wrote a letter to the Iranian authorities calling for the release of Afsaneh Noroozi, a young woman who had been sentenced to death for the murder of a policemen. The letter also criticised the violation of women's rights in Iran.
The arrests of these two women journalists are part of a crackdown on the online press in which five other cyber-journalists have been imprisoned for writing for pro-reform websites or keeping weblogs. They are :
Javad Gholam Tamayomi of the daily Mardomsalari ("Democracy" in Farsi), who was arrested on 18 October after going to the 9th section of the Tehran prosecutor's department in response to a summons ;
Omid Memarian, a journalist and weblogger who was arrested on 10 October ;
Rozbeh Mir Ebrahimi, Etemad's former political affairs editor, who was arrested at his home on 27 September ;
Hanif Mazroi, a former journalist with several pro-reform newspapers, arrested on 8 September ;
Shahram Rafihzadeh, the editor of Etemad's arts and culture section, arrested on 7 September.
The European Parliament passed a resolution on 27 October condemning their arrests.