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Iranian Journalists Flee, Fearing Retribution for Covering Protests
TORONTO — For two months Ehsan Maleki traveled around Iran with a backpack containing his cameras, a few pieces of clothing and his laptop computer, taking pictures of the reformist candidate Mir Hussein Moussavi during the presidential campaign. He did not know that his backpack and his cameras would soon become his only possessions, or that he would be forced to crawl out of the country hiding in a herd of sheep.
Mr. Maleki, 29, is one of dozens of reporters, photographers and bloggers who have either fled Iran or are trying to flee in the aftermath of the disputed June presidential election. Reporters Without Borders, a Paris-based organization that promotes press freedom and monitors the safety of journalists, said the number of journalists leaving Iran was the largest since the years after the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
The wave of departures reflects the journalists’ anxiety over the retribution many of them have faced for reporting on the government’s violent suppression of the post-election protests. As bloody clashes unfolded in the streets of Tehran, the government went to great lengths to restrict the flow of information to the outside world. Foreign journalists were banned, and local reporters and photographers were warned to stay at home.
A number of Iranian journalists defied those orders, disseminating information in phone interviews, on Internet sites and through pictures sent to photo agencies. Now, they say, they are paying the price.
Many journalists in Tehran, including a Newsweek reporter, Maziar Bahari, who is also an independent filmmaker, were among the hundreds of Iranians arrested and jailed. Some are defendants in the mass trials the government is conducting. The wife of one journalist, Ahmad Zeidabadi, said he had been tortured while in prison.The editors of some opposition blogs, which reported the killings and the mass burial of protesters, have gone into hiding, and their whereabouts are not clear. The homes of some journalists, like Mr. Maleki, have been ransacked.
Today we find out the Obama Administration has defunded the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center, an organization that investigates human rights abuses by the killer regime.
The Boston Globe reported:For the past five years, researchers in a modest office overlooking the New Haven green have carefully documented cases of assassination and torture of democracy activists in Iran. With more than $3 million in grants from the US State Department, they have pored over thousands of documents and Persian-language press reports and interviewed scores of witnesses and survivors to build dossiers on those they say are Iran’s most infamous human-rights abusers.
But just as the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center was ramping up to investigate abuses of protesters after this summer’s disputed presidential election, the group received word that - for the first time since it was formed - its federal funding request had been denied.
“If there is one time that I expected to get funding, this was it,’’ said Rene Redman, the group’s executive director, who had asked for $2.7 million in funding for the next two years. “I was sur prised, because the world was watching human rights violations right there on television.’’
Many see the sudden, unexplained cutoff of funding as a shift by the Obama administration away from high-profile democracy promotion in Iran, which had become a signature issue for President Bush. But the timing has alarmed some on Capitol Hill.
“The Iran Human Rights Documentation Center is at the forefront of pioneering and vitally important work,’’ said Senator Joe Lieberman, a Connecticut independent, in a statement yesterday. “It is disturbing that the State Department would cut off funding at precisely the moment when these brave investigations are needed most.’’
"To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history, but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist."
Barack, you should be ashamed of yourself. But I know you aren't. Narcissists aren't capable of humility, introspection and genuine compassion for others.