Parvin Mokhtare was just doing what any other mom would do when she took to the airwaves of Radio Farda (RFE/RL’s Persian-language service) to protest the arrest of her son, journalist and human rights activist Kouhyar Goudarzi, who has been imprisoned off and on by the Iranian government for years. Mokhtare was her son’s fiercest advocate, conducting numerous interviews with media outlets in Iran and writing to human rights groups abroad to publicize her son’s case and secure his release.
Despite the fact that journalists and human rights activists are routinely targeted and imprisoned by Iranian authorities, legal action against family members is highly unusual, even for Iran’s revolutionary courts. Nevertheless, it isn’t unheard of for authorities to briefly jail family members for speaking up about their loved ones.
RFE/RL journalists, many of them freelancers, suffered direct repercussions as a result of their work on 19 occasions this year.
The incidents range from harassment by police to beatings, death threats, detention and prison. In addition, RFE/RL language service bureaus experienced interference with their operations, including threats of closure and disruption of communications networks.
RFE/RL’s incident record tracks with the findings of major media and human rights advocacy groups that rate Azerbaijan, Belarus and Turkmenistan as deeply hostile to media freedom…
Caption: RFE/RL News Director Jay Tolson congratulates Khadija Ismayilova of RFE/RL’s Azeri Service on her award for one of the five best stories of 2011. Ismayilova’s story on public corruption in Azerbaijan led to changes in government policy.
Whether it was uncovering state cronyism in Azerbaijan, documenting systematic rape in Kyrgyzstan, remembering genocide in the Balkans, live-tweeting from a charged courtroom in Russia, or broadcasting the desperate story of Georgian sailors, RFE/RL’s journalists profoundly affected the world of their listeners in 2011…[READ MORE]