Detained Iranian Journalist Getting All the Press
Iran’s government announced Tuesday that it would release 140 prisoners detained during the political unrest that wracked the country last month, but one now-notable name was not on the list: Maziar Bahari remains in Tehran’s Evin prison. Bahari, an Iranian-Canadian journalist for Newsweek, filmmaker, playwright, author and artist, has been getting a lot of attention since his June 21 arrest.
A full-page ad in Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal shows a picture of the captured reporter with the words, “Free Maziar Bahari.” Below is a list of more than 300 writers, reporters, filmmakers and even some Nobel Prize winners from 60 countries who are pressuring the Iranian government to free Bahari.
The ad has also appeared in Newsweek, and he’s received vocal support on the Huffington Post from actor and director Robert Redford. Human and journalistic rights organizations such as the PEN American Center and the Committee to Protect Journalists, which circulated petitions for Bahari’s release, seem to be narrowing their focus on Bahari, whom the Iranian government said was arrested for “biased” reporting.
But let’s not forget that there are 200 other journalists, artists, political activists, protesters and Iranian citizens still detained in Evin Prison (click here for a list of all journalists detained in Iran since June). Other organizations, such as the International Women’s Media Foundation, started petitions on behalf of the more than 35 international journalists imprisoned by the Iranian government.
While there is no doubt that Bahari’s story is a sad one, advocacy groups should not lose sight of the roughly 200 others jailed in Iran for merely annoying Iran’s theocratic leadership after the election. Using Bahari’s notoriety to draw attention to these arrests and human rights violations makes sense; ignoring the others by focusing too much on Bahari does not. Every person in Evin is a victim of human-rights violations, and the 300 people who signed a petition on behalf of Bahari should have made a broader appeal for all of those who were doing their jobs reporting on the sham election and subsequent protest.