The Times' front page on the eve of June 2009 presidential elections in Iran
Chief-editors of six news websites in Iran composed [an open] letter to [some] American and European news agencies (newspapers and websites) and criticised their way of covering Iran’s news in the aftermath of the [2009 June] election and objected to the unprofessional behaviour of these media outlets in escalating the tension and chaos in Iran and distorting the news about Iran.
Letter from chief-editors of 6 leading Iranian news agencies to their American and European counterparts
8 months after 12 June presidential election in Iran, the way devised to cover the series of events by international media provoked us to propound some questions within the framework of the standards of our common profession at the same time reminding you of several main points concerning the way of covering Iran news in the West:
1- Western journalists travel to Iran and mostly stay at hotels located in the northern part of Tehran, the capital, where the wealthy lives. Then you convey their observations based on what is called "wants of Iranian people". For instance, in 2005 presidential campaign, the international reporters saw electoral carnivals and claimed that Mr. Moein was ahead in the poll accordingly. However he gained 13% of the whole polls and became the fifth.
Do you think it is professional and rational to conclude from the interests and the behavior of these residents which consists of 5% of total population of Tehran? Do you know that Iran consists of 1200 cities? While your reporters stay merely in this area, Shemiran, in northern Tehran, which is never a good example to be generalized to the other cities in term of political interests and behavior. Is the way you are following honest and professional?
2- On June 28, 2009 it an unknown blog announced that a young Iranian woman, Taraneh Mousavi, had died after being sexually abused while in custody after being arrested for protesting the 2009 election results by Iran security forces. Her burned corps had reportedly been found in the deserts according to this blog. Shortly after that the blog post published, the news broke in all western media without the source being verified. The Iranian reporters' effort to find the identity, address, job, school, family, friends or even another photo of the girl was unsuccessful. Yet the news coverage was in a way that the protesters participating in the rally carried Taraneh Mosavi photo. Amazingly on July 21, 2009, in the US, a Republican Senator publicized the incident in a speech on the Senate floor carrying a large photo of her. Do you think it is professional to spread such far-reaching news through an unknown blog?
3- Again on 20 June, 2009, a real girl with known identity and family was questionably shot to death around- not among- the protestors. About 2 hours later different videos captured of her death were broadcast on internet. The young doctor in the film, identified as Arash Hejazi, had entered Iran 5 days before the incident and appeared in BBC 48 hours later explaining the weird details of the story and how the nearby members of the crowd caught the shooter. Consequently the international media reflected the story accordingly.
On the days of protesting in which Iran government was trying to quell the climate and the protesters were seeking to stir up unrest, who do you think was the main beneficiary of Neda's death? How is it possible to justify the contradictions in what Arash Hejzazi said in the video and in his interview with BBC? Why did he travel to Iran 5 days before Neda's death from UK and a day after the event he leave Iran to UK? How do you think it is possible a person be shot in an uncrowned street and the bystanders watched, made film or indifferently passed instead of escaping?
Didn't you think of these matters while you were reflecting this subject? Did you have a professional behavior?
4- During unrest in Iran, BBC Persian and The Voice of America, the Britain and USA’s governments affiliated Televisions, encouraged the protesters to continue their protests on the basis of their unilateral stands. The voice of America taught their audiences the way of setting litter bins on fire and how to throw the country into chaos.
How is it possible to justify this measure which is officially and directly supported by western states? Could it be defined in the framework of the professional behavior of an "informative" and "impartial" media?
5- At the end of the protesters actions on 15 June 2009 in streets of Tehran, some people attacked to a Basij post, a place that kept weapons. They threw incendiary bombs and climbed up its wall in order to seize it. In your country what is the police reaction to such behavior?
On 30 December, 2009, some people set fire to the public and private properties, police cars and banks. The leader of “Mujahedin-e-Khalq” (they call themselves as “Iran’s resistance Council”!) which is now in Paris was interviewed by the Associated Press reporter and announced that they had had a crucial role in these activities. “Tondar” group in USA took the responsibility of the clashes and asked its zealots to kill the security forces and the police. The group exploded a bomb on 13 April, 2009, in a religious place at the peak time, leading to the death of 14 people. Why do you think these terrorist groups are able to live in western countries freely and conduct such acts?
Why do you think Abdolmalek Rigi, the ringleader of the Jundollah terrorist group, is interviewed and introduced as a hero by the Voice of America? While he is proud of actions including mass murder, armed robbery, kidnapping, sabotage, bombings and targeting civilians and government officials as well as all ranks of Iran's military. How is it possible to justify this behavior and dual standard of the USA’s official media?
You know that there has been a deep misunderstanding between the nations and the governments of both Iran and USA. Now as a professional media should we clear up this misunderstanding or deteriorate it?
Do you want to inform the lawmakers and the officials on Iran realities or present untrue news which is on the benefit of the enemies of Iran and West relations?
We, the editors of 6 leading Iranian news websites which act independently in accordance with the Iran’s law and constitution, wrote this letter to defend the current realities in Iran, not Ahmadinejad; you must note that most of us are among the critics of Mr.Ahmadinejad’s governments.
This is to ask you think about the over stated matters and your performance during all these 8 months. Ask your work conscience to judge if your performance has been fair and impartial or not?
The editors of:
- Alef, http://Alef.ir,
- Farda, http://www.Fardanews.com,
- HamshahriOnline, http://Hamshahrionline.ir,
- Jahan, http://Jahannews.ir,
- KhabarOnline, http://Khabaronline.ir,
- Tabnak, http://Tabnak.ir