March 19, 2012 | By John Donnelly | JDonnelly@cq.com
The National Press Club today called on Iran’s government to set free a jailed blogger, his mother and all journalists and other citizens who have suffered retaliation merely for exercising the basic human right of self-expression.
In 2010, the Club awarded the Iranian blogger Kouhyar Goudarzi its John Aubuchon Press Freedom Award after Goudarzi had been put in Teheran’s notorious Evin Prison on trumped-up charges. Goudarzi was freed in December of that year. But he was jailed again last July, and his mother, Parvin Mokhtare, was also detained.
Now comes word that Goudarzi has been sentenced to five years in jail, and his mother remains in prison.
Theresa Werner, NPC president, condemned the sentencing of Goudarzi and the Iranian authorities’ mistreatment of him and his mother, as well as the continuing crackdowns in Iran against journalists for reporting and against citizens for speaking their minds.
“The detention and sentencing of Kouhyar Goudarzi is an affront to the international community and in particular to the National Press Club, which honored Goudarzi two years ago for his commitment and courage in the face of harsh repression,” Werner said. “The government of Iran needs to know that its actions are being watched. Journalists and freedom-loving people everywhere will not let up our demands that Goudarzi, his mother, and the many others in Iran who have been unjustly jailed and mistreated, must not be subject to reprisal and repression."
At a ceremony in 2010 conferring the award to Goudarzi in absentia, a letter from his mother was read aloud.
“It is pleasing to know that the ‘charges’ levied against our children in their own country, for which they have been imprisoned, charges such as human rights work, fighting for the right to higher education, free speech, free press, rights of child labor, campaign against the death penalty, civil and citizenship rights, etc., are not ‘charges,’ but causes of encouragement and applause in other countries,” his mother wrote. “I am certain that the green and noble people of Iran, with perseverance and endurance, will achieve all their legitimate demands, and that day will come.”
The National Press Club, based in Washington, D.C., is the world's leading professional organization for journalists. The Club represents more than 3,200 members worldwide representing every major news organization. The Club was founded in 1908.