IRAN: Journalists call on visiting colleagues to steer clear of official propaganda
A group of exiled Iranian journalists has appealed to their foreign counterparts not to swallow the official spin about the Feb. 11 anniversary of Iran's Islamic Revolution, which is turning into the next big confrontation between hard-liners allied with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the green-themed opposition movement.
The letter, posted in Persian, English and German to Facebook and other websites, reminds journalists visiting Iran that dozens of their Iranian colleagues remain behind bars and the government has intensified its crackdown against dissenting media.
Now, authorities are preparing to discredit and marginalize the opposition by using government resources to muster up a huge crowd in Tehran during the annual march and by barring opposition supporters from entering the area where Ahmadinejad will speak and journalists will be placed.
"After failing for eight months to achieve its goals, the illegal and fraudulent government has now prepared a new show," the letter said. "Inviting foreign journalists to provide media coverage of the anniversary of the 1979 revolution on Feb. 11, 2010, is another part of the deceitful plan of Ahmadinejad’s illegal administration."
The letter notes that the government has arrested, detained, harassed and restricted foreign journalists and even accused some of espionage.
"Now, it is using them, through its invitation, so they can show the world that it is a government that enjoys popular support," the letter said. "The goal of the Iranian government is to direct journalists towards the pro-government demonstrations and prevent them from going to other locales."
It calls on Western journalists to keep their eyes and ears open, so as not to be deceived by the government's machinations.
"Like on other similar occasions, the coup government will attempt to control all the paths so that the only people that will come in view of your cameras will be the [pro-government militiamen] Basijis, who will present a caricature of the Iranian nation for your television cameras," the letter said. "You will hear the protesting voice of the Iranian people clearer than ever if you look beyond the fences, cordons, and barriers and look at the real people of Iran."
Photo: Newsweek correspondent and documentary filmmaker Maziar Bahari was arrested, jailed, physically abused and coerced into confessing crimes in a televised trial after he captured footage of Basiji militiamen firing on demonstrators during a massive June 15 anti-government rally. The Canadian Iranian dual national was later released and recanted his confessions. Credit: Fars News Agency