August 10, 2011 | By John Donnelly | JDonnelly@cq.com
National Press Club President Mark Hamrick expressed outrage on Aug. 10 at reports that Kouhyar Goudarzi, an Iranian blogger, and his mother have been imprisoned in Iran.
The Club honored Goudarzi last year as the international winner of the 2010 John Aubuchon Press Freedom Award after he had been incarcerated for months for the “crime” of speaking his mind.
The Club hailed Goudarzi in November at a special ceremony and said his plight represented the abuses of journalists and others in Iran and beyond. At the ceremony, an eloquent statement from Goudarzi’s mother, Parvin Mohktare, was read aloud. About a month later, after a year in jail, Goudarzi was released.
Freedom House and the Committee to Protect Journalists now report that Goudarzi is back in jail and his mother has also been held.
“The imprisonment of Kouhyar Goudarzi and his mother is a slap in the face to the world community,” said Hamrick, a broadcast journalist with the Associated Press. “In honoring Goudarzi last year, the National Press Club hoped to draw attention to his plight and that of so many others in Iran and other nations where press freedom is in peril. We intend to keep reminding the world about his case and about the other abuses in Iran and elsewhere. And we call on the Iranian government to release Goudarzi, his mother and all other journalists and others who have been incarcerated and mistreated merely for exercising their basic human right to self-expression.”
It was not immediately clear what purported “offense” led the Iranians to jail Goudarzi and his mother.
Last November, as the Club honored Goudarzi, a moving 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,” she 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,” she said.