UNESCO recognized World Press Freedom Day on May 3 by awarding the annual World Press Freedom Prize to three Iranian female journalists who are currently imprisoned. Niloufar Hamedi, Elaheh Mohammadi, and Narges Mohammadi were the recipients of the award for their courageous reporting on human rights abuses in Iran and their dedication to truth and accountability.
Who are Niloufar Hamedi, Elaheh Mohammadi, and Narges Mohammadi?
- Niloufar Hamedi is a journalist and co-founder of the journalism website, Majzooban-e-Noor, which covers news about Iran’s Sufi community.
- She reported on the death of a young woman named Mahsa Amini, who was held by the morality police for not wearing her headscarf properly and died in custody last year.
- Elaheh Mohammadi is a journalist and blogger who has written about women’s rights and other social issues in Iran.
- She wrote about the funeral of Mahsa Amini, who died in the custody of the morality police for wearing her headscarf too loosely.
- Narges Mohammadi is a human rights activist and journalist who has reported on human rights violations in Iran, particularly those affecting women and children.
- She has been frequently arrested and jailed by the government.
- She is currently serving a 16-year prison sentence at Evin Prison.
- Mohammadi has received international recognition for her advocacy against the death penalty in Iran, a country with one of the highest rates of executions in the world.
- The woman is the Vice Director of the Defenders of Human Rights Center, based in Tehran.
- Despite being imprisoned, she continues to report through written mediums and has even conducted interviews with other women prisoners.
- Her book “White Torture” features the stories of women who have faced torture and other forms of abuse in Iranian prisons.
Charges against them?
- Although Niloufar Hamedi, Elaheh Mohammadi, and Narges Mohammadi’s reporting brought to light human rights abuses in Iran, they have also faced consequences for their actions.
- Iran’s judiciary indicted them on charges of collaborating with the United States, acting against national security, and creating “propaganda against the system.”
- They have been in prison since September, with Hamedi in solitary confinement.
Who was Mahsa Amini?
- Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman from Iran, died on September 16, 2022, in a hospital in Tehran.
- Her death occurred under suspicious circumstances.
- Amini was arrested by the Guidance Patrol, Iran’s religious morality police, for allegedly not wearing the hijab in accordance with government standards.
- Eyewitnesses reported that she was severely beaten.
- The Iranian authorities denied the allegations of police brutality leading to her death.
- Niloufar Hamedi and Elaheh Mohammadi reported on the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini while in police custody in Iran.
- Their reporting helped bring attention to the case and sparked protests across Iran.
- The protests were one of the most significant challenges to the Islamic Republic since the 2009 Green Movement.
UNESCO World Press Freedom Prize
- The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Press Freedom Prize is an annual award given by UNESCO to an individual, organization, or institution that has made a notable contribution to the promotion and defense of press freedom around the world.
- The prize was first awarded in 1997 and is presented on May 3, which is designated as World Press Freedom Day.
- The award is intended to recognize the courage, achievements, and impact of journalists and media professionals who have worked to promote freedom of expression and the independence of the press.
- At a ceremony in New York, UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay announced the winners of the World Press Freedom Prize.
- Azoulay emphasized the importance of honoring women journalists who face personal safety threats and are unable to perform their job duties.
Facts about Iran
- Iran is located in Western Asia and borders Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, and Turkey.
- The official name of Iran is the Islamic Republic of Iran, and its capital is Tehran.
- The Iranian Revolution in 1979 led to the establishment of an Islamic republic and the overthrow of the monarchy.
- The official language is Persian, and the majority of the population follows Shia Islam.
- Iran is the second-largest country in the Middle East and the 18th-largest in the world.
- Iran is known for its rich cultural heritage, including architecture, art, literature, and music.
- The country is home to several UNESCO World Heritage sites, including the ancient ruins of Persepolis and the historic city of Yazd.
- Iran has a population of over 83 million people, making it the 18th most populous country in the world.
- Supreme Leader – Ali Khamenei (since 1989)
- President – Ebrahim Raisi (since August 2021)
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