BBC seeks United Nations protection from Iran

Lester Mason
March 13, 2018

More than 20 Persian service journalists or family members have received death threats.

"The BBC is taking the unprecedented step of appealing to the United Nations because our own attempts to persuade the Iranian authorities to end their harassment have been completely ignored", BBC Director General Tony Hall said in a statement.

"Iranians are turning to BBC Persian in huge numbers because they can not get reliable and impartial news and analysis from the Iranian media which is heavily censored", said Rozita Lotfi, head of BBC Persian.

The BBC said it is appealing to the United Nations in Geneva to protect the human rights of its journalists and their families as Iranian authorities escalate "years of persecution and harassment".

"Threatening journalists and their families is nothing short of thuggery and the worldwide community should condemn it as such", he added.

BBC staff will address the UN Human Right Council on Monday 12 March.

BBC Persian "has always focused on striking Iran", he said, citing the 1953 coup d'état of Iran's democratically elected government. Previous year the Iranian authorities started a criminal investigation alleging that the unit was threatening its national security.

The broadcaster said journalists in London working on BBC Persian, part of the BBC World Service, and their families in Iran had been targeted since the satellite TV station launched in 2009.

"Iranians now increasingly turn to the global media to find out what is happening in their own country".

"Your listeners should be aware of what's actually at stake here: for our Persian service staff who are based in London - we don't have staff based in Iran - they can't return to Iran under fear of arrest, their families are often prevented from leaving Iran by having their passports taken away, (and) the families are also intimidated by the security services".

In October 2017, the UN's Special Procedure mandate holders issued a statement calling on Iran "to cease all legal action against the staff and their families, and to cease the use of repressive legislation against independent journalism".

"It is a story about fundamental human rights".

"The longer the worldwide community is silent on Iran's human rights abuses, the more emboldened and powerful rights violators inside the country become" said Ghaemi.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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