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Freedom Detained

The detention of journalists continues to increase across the globe. In its latest report, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has mentioned that the number of arrested media persons was 488 in 2021, and the figure touched 533 in 2022.

As per a survey conducted by the RSF, the working condition of journalists has deteriorated the most in five countries. China remains “the world’s biggest jailer of journalists” with 110, followed by Myanmar (62), Iran (47), Vietnam (39) and Belarus (31).

Christophe Deloire, the Secretary General and Executive Director of the France-based NGO, said: “Dictatorial and authoritarian regimes are filling their prisons faster than ever by jailing journalists.” He added: “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.” Meanwhile, Deloire assured that the RSF would try to stand by the journalists who have been detained for bringing out the truth against the Government in different countries.

It may be noted that Iran was not previously among the top five countries, as far as detention of journalists is concerned. However, the Iranian (as well as the Global) media turned against the Ebrahim Raisi Government‘s orthodox and conservative policies after the anti-Hijab Movement swept the West Asian nation. The death of 22-year-old Iranian Kurd girl Mahsha Amini in custody of Iranian Moral Police in September 2022 triggered the movement. In the last three months, 34 media professionals have been arrested in Iran.

The RSF further claimed that the year 2022 also recorded the highest number of detention of women journalists. Seventy-eight women journalists, including Nilufar Hamedi and Elahe Mohammad of Iran, have been detained so far in 2022. So many women journalists have never been arrested before. The RSF report stated that it was “indicative of the Iranian authorities’ desire to systematically reduce women to silence“.

Most of such incidents have taken place in Asia, more specifically in the Middle East. According to the RSF, the number of detention of journalists in these countries has increased since the beginning of the war between Russia and Ukraine on February 24, 2022. Meanwhile, the number of slain journalists has also risen to 57 because of the Russia-Ukraine War from historic lows of 48 and 50 in 2020 and 2021, respectively. While eight journalists have been killed reporting on the war, five of them from non-combatant countries.

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