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"For Iran's emerging independent press, the April clampdown was the culmination of a relentless judicial campaign of harassment and censorship over the last two years," says a recently released report by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) entitled "Iran: The Press on Trial". With the recent banning of sixteen Iranian publications by the courts and the jailing of a number of journalists, the clampdown on the press in Iran is not lifting, report CPJ, the International Press Institute (IPI), Human Rights Watch (HRW), Reporters sans frontières (RSF) and the Writers in Prison Committee (WiPC) of International PEN.

The victory of reformist parties in the February legislative elections touched off a conservative offensive against the reformist press, which culminated on 17 April 2000, when the outgoing parliament passed a law strengthening penalties against the press. The press law forbids suspended newspapers from publishing under a new name, and states that "persons who are sentenced by revolutionary courts for undermining State security, or those who spread propaganda hostile to the Islamic regime, are not authorised to be employed by a publication under any circumstances". According to RSF, "this means that a journalist who has already been sentenced will never again be able to practice his profession." In the wake of the new legislation being introduced, the judiciary initiated a crackdown that resulted in the indefinite closure of 16 newspapers and magazines that had formed the core of the country's burgeoning reformist press.

Among the media workers arrested are two Iranian women's rights advocates, Mehrangiz Kar and publisher Shahla Lahiji, who were arrested on 30 April, reports Women's Learning Partnership (WLP). They face heavy sentences for their participation in a conference on the future of Iran, held in Berlin on 7-8 April. Arrest warrants have also been issued against several other writers who participated in the same conference, says WLP. RSF has launched an on-line petition (available at calling for "the release of imprisoned journalists, the lifting of bans on newspapers and the repeal of the press law." CPJ's report can be viewed on its website: [Updates
IFEX "Communique" #9-17.]

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