Iran has imprisoned an “unprecedented” large number of male and female journalists since protests broke out in September over the death in custody of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who was arrested for breaching the country’s strict dress code.
At least 34 new journalists joined 13 others who were previously detained.
Iran’s protest crackdown has helped push the number of journalists imprisoned worldwide to a record high of 533 in 2022, according to a report by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) published Wednesday.
More than half are jailed in just five countries: China, which remains “the world’s biggest jailer of journalists” with 110, followed by Myanmar (62), Iran (47), Vietnam (39) and Belarus (31).
“Dictatorial and authoritarian regimes are filling their prisons faster than ever by jailing journalists,” said Christophe Deloire, RSF Secretary-General, in a statement.
“This new record in the number of detained journalists confirms the pressing and urgent need to resist these unscrupulous governments and to extend our active solidarity to all those who embody the ideal of journalistic freedom, independence and pluralism.”
Iran is the only country that was not part of the list last year, said RSF, which has been publishing the annual tally since 1995.
The number of women journalists in prison is also at an all-time high worldwide, rising from 60 to 78 since 2021, largely due to greater numbers entering the profession.
It highlighted the cases of Iranians Nilufar Hamedi and Elahe Mohammadi — among 15 female journalists arrested during the protests — who drew attention to the death of Amini and now face a potential death penalty.
It is “indicative of the Iranian authorities’ desire to systematically reduce women to silence,” RSF said.
The NGO awarded its Prize for Courage on Monday to one of their members, Narges Mohammadi, who has been repeatedly imprisoned over the past decade.
RSF also noted that it has registered a sharp increase in media repression in Russia since its invasion of Ukraine.