CPJ Impact

March 2010

News from the Committee to Protect Journalists

‘Free Society’ campaign seeks freedom for jailed Iranians
CPJ and a coalition of leading press freedom groups have launched a campaign called “Our Society Will Be a Free Society,” which seeks the release of journalists, writers, and bloggers being held in Iran. CPJ, which has been conducting monthly surveys of journalists imprisoned in Iran, documented 52 writers and editors behind bars on March 1. The number of jailed journalists is the highest CPJ has recorded in a single country since December 1996, when it documented 78 imprisonments in Turkey.

The campaign’s name comes from a pledge that Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini made on the eve of the 1979 Iranian Revolution: “Our future society will be a free society, and all the elements of oppression, cruelty, and force will be destroyed.”

We are gathering signatures for a letter to be sent to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on March 20, the Iranian New Year. You can sign the campaign’s petition at www.oursocietywillbeafreesociety.org or access our page on Facebook. We need your help to gather signatures.

Please visit the site and sign-and please pass the links to any and all who support this vital cause. The more unified a front we present, the more our voice will be heard.

Shamsolvaezin, a CPJ Press Freedom Awardee, is released in Iran
CPJ campaigned hard to win the release of imprisoned editor Mashallah Shamsolvaezin, recipient of CPJ’s International Press Freedom Award in 2000. We were delighted to learn this month that he was released on bail along with at least three other Iranian journalists. While this is very good news, there is much more to be done.

Attacks on the Press launched worldwide
CPJ’s international launch of Attacks on the Press, our annual survey of press freedom conditions around the world, was an unprecedented success. With coordinated events in six cities across the globe-New York, Tokyo, Brussels, Cairo, Nairobi, and Bogotá-CPJ reached a vast international audience. The press freedom issues highlighted in Attacks on the Press attracted regional and international attention.

  • In Bogotá, board member María Teresa Ronderos and program coordinator Carlos Lauría met with President Alvaro Uribe Vélez and cabinet members to discuss illegal government spying on journalists, the subject of this year’s regional analysis in Attacks. CPJ and the Colombian press freedom organization La Fundación para la Libertad de Prensa (FLIP) jointly sponsored a press conference as well.
  • In Tokyo, CPJ Chairman Paul Steiger moderated a discussion on major press issues, including the massacre of dozens of journalists in the Philippines, the crackdown on dissent in Iran, and the rise of citizen journalism on the Internet. Panelists included Maria Ressa, head of news and current affairs for the Philippine broadcaster ABS-CBN; Nobuyoshi Sakajiri, deputy foreign editorof Asahi Shimbun; Nobuhisa Degawa, Middle East correspondent for NHK; and CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon.
  • Newsweek correspondent Maziar Bahari, imprisoned for 118 days last year in Iran, joined CPJ Deputy Director Robert Mahoney and Asia Program Coordinator Bob Dietz in releasing this year’s edition at the United Nations in New York. The three called on Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to make the protection of free expression a top, ongoing U.N. priority.
  • In Brussels, Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Nina Ognianova joined consultants Jean-Paul Marthoz and Borja Bergareche in briefing journalists, human rights groups, and European Union officials on CPJ’s findings. They led a lively discussion on some of the most challenging questions facing press groups today: Who is a journalist? Is the era of public protest over? Does “name and shame” still work?
  • In Nairobi, CPJ Africa Program Coordinator Tom Rhodes focused on the plight of exiled journalists at a press briefing. And in Cairo, International Press Freedom Awardee Naziha Rejiba joined CPJ’s Mohammed Abdel Dayem and Kamel Labidi for an event that was aired on Al-Jazeera.
Highlights from the CPJ Blog
Earthquake in Haiti Series:French weekly gives issue over to Haitian journalists

CPJ trip to Morocco reveals gap between rhetoric and reality

Japanese journalist-turned-lawyer fights media control

Senior Chinese editor forced out for controversial editorial