Widespread Targeting of Journalists Continues with Three Arrests
With only six weeks until the Iranian parliamentary election, security officials have cast a wider net in the capital with the arrest of three journalists. Journalists Parastoo Dokouhaki, Marzieh Rassouli and Sahamoddin Bouraghani are the latest in a series of arrests, following the other recent arrests of journalists Fatemeh Kheradmand and Ehsan Houshmandzadeh, who were detained on 7 January 2012.
Security officials arrested Dokouhaki, Rassouli, and Bouraghani, all reformist journalists, in their homes. All three arrests were accompanied by a home search and confiscation. On 15 January 2012 authorities arrested Dokouhaki, followed by the 17 January arrests of Rassouli and Bouraghani. On 7 January, authorities arrested two other journalists, Fatemeh Kheradmand and Ehsan Houshmandzadeh, as well as civil activist Said Madani a day later.
On 8 January 2012, Heydar Moslehi, Minister of Intelligence, at the end of a government announcement, claimed that some people have been arrested for allegedly “attempting to implement the American objectives regarding the upcoming parliamentary elections.” As quoted by the Student News Agency ISNA, Moslehi said that the arrested spies had relations with people outside of the country both on-line and through social networks. Nevertheless, authorities did not provide an explanation or reason for either the arrests of Kheradmand and Houshmandzadeh.
Fatemeh Kheradmand, a freelance journalist wrote on health and social issues and Ehsan Houshmandzadeh, journalist and ethnic researcher, were both arrested in their homes. Said Madani, editor of the monthly Iran Tomorrow and of the quarterly research journal Social Welfare and former university professor, was also arrested on 8 January. So far no charges have been brought against them.
Sahamoddin Bouraghani is a young journalist and son of Ahmad Bouraghani, MP from Tehran during the 2001-2004 parliament term, and the National Press Director for the Ministry of Culture and Guidance during the Khatami era. He was arrested on the eve of January 17. This journalist wrote for the reformistEtemaad-e Melli, and was the editor for the Iranian Diplomacy website.
Parastoo Dokouhaki, journalist, blogger, and women’s issues researcher, was arrested on the eve of January 15 by security forces in her father’s home. At the time of her arrest, security officials seized her laptop as well as other personal items.
A family member of Parastoo Dokouhaki told the Campaign that Dokouhaki became extremely depressed after the death of her father a few months ago and she was under special medical treatment. In the past three years, this journalist has not been involved in political or journalistic activities and her activities were limited to working with the Shariati Foundation as an editor and translator. Dokouhaki, who is in her early thirties, started her journalism career in her twenties, writing about women’s and social issues. She has worked for the now-banned women’s issues monthly Zanaan and other reformist newspapers such asYas-e No, Vagha-ye Etefaghiyeh, Norooz, Hambastegi, and Etemaad-e Melli.
Dokouhaki’s blog, called “Written by a woman” (Zan Nevesht) was awarded best blog by an Iranian journalist by Deutsche Welle. In her last blog post, on 31 December 2011, she wrote about depression:
The long sickness and death of my father. Seeing the destruction of a human being. Understanding the physical deterioration before death. A life that was diminished day by day. My exposure to this painful process has left me vulnerable. Such that I am dying bit by bit. I think about death and I accept death. I even desire death so I can get out of the dysphoric life. The passing of time has not helped; it has not diminished it. I know. I am sick. I am deeply depressed. I’m struggling with absolute absurdity. I don’t have any motivation for creating even small goals. But to change this condition I must do something. Maybe the first step is writing this?
Marzieh Rassouli is another young journalist who was arrested in her home on 17 January. According to a report by BBC Persian, security officials presented a warrant at the time of her arrest, showing her charge as “actions against national security.” Rassouli was a music and literary critic for several years and was never politically active and never wrote about political affairs. She previously wrote for reformist newspapers such as Sharq, Kargozaran, and Etemaad.