More Publication Closures On The Horizon?
Less than one week before the upcoming Iranian New Year’s holidays, a media activist told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran that Mohammad Ali Ramin, Deputy Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance, will most likely attempt to close down several publications before the holidays. The heads of several publications who have had to visit the Ministry of Culture have said that Chelcheragh Weekly and Nasim Monthly are two of these publications.
A journalist who has requested anonymity told the Campaign that there was a rumor about the closure of 17 publications, leading to concern among newspaper managers and editors. It is not clear how many publications will be closed down but some Ministry of Guidance employees have said that letters about the closures have been signed by Ramin, but it’s not clear when the announcements will be made.
The sources said that Ministry of Culture authorities are attempting to minimize the political costs of the closures by timing the announcements to take advantage of the country’s two-week holidays. Heads of some publications whose closure news have leaked have appeared in the hallways of Ministry of Guidance to negotiate with Ministry authorities before the closure announcements are made in an attempt to prevent the decision. The media activist told the Campaign that due to the high political costs such actions might result in — including loss of jobs for many press employees just before the New Year — the closures may be delayed until after the holidays.
During the past few weeks, Etemad Newspaper and Irandokht weekly were suspended and negotiations by the heads of the two publications with Ministry of Guidance authorities were not fruitful. A journalist who worked with Etemad Newspaper told the Campaign that the publication’s closure was made on political grounds and was not related to any particular content. Previously, Ministry of Guidance and Ministry of Information authorities had explicitly asked some publications to avoid writing articles which could provide excuses for “enemies of the state.” Over the past four years, authorities from the Prosecutor’s Office, Ministry of Intelligence, and Ministry of Guidance have issued several written or telephone warnings to independent publications about their coverage of certain events and news, or avoiding coverage on certain other events.