Iran was a major topic of discussion as about 700 journalists attended a UNESCO conference in Tunisia called New Voices – media freedom helping to transform societies.
“Since 2009, the Iranian regime has arrested more than 290 journalists, handing them jail terms ranging from six months to six years,” Iranian journalist and women’s rights activist Asieh Amini told the conference.
Zamaneh’s correspondent reports that the conference, which began on May 3 on World Press Freedom Day, was attended by close to 700 journalists, bloggers and civil activists from Tunisia and 88 other countries.
Zamaneh Executive Director Arjen de Wolff praised the conference, saying: “Participating in such a conference is very reassuring as it becomes clear that a strong resolve has taken shape for people in Iran, Arab countries and other places to attain freedom of speech. A strong movement has begun to take the media out of the state’s control and place it in the hands of the people.”
Iran remained one of the top focuses of the conference, as Asieh Amini honoured the struggles of Iranian journalists, 30 of whom are currently behind bars, and shared images of the experiences of Iranian journalists and civil activists.
A presentation by Algerian journalist Omar Balouchi touched on the threat that the Islamist movement poses to free speech, noting that the recent developments in the Arab countries have not yet spelled an end to control of the media by authorities.
Other major topics of discussion included the importance of new media, journalistic innovations and the importance of transparency in reporting.