Iran- Kurdistan- Association of Iranian Journalists (AOIJ) joined the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) in 1997, but in 2009, two months after the presidential election, the former Prosecutor Saeed Mortazavi shut down the entity. Despite various attempts to reopen the center, to this day the association remains officially inactive. Its elected head Rajabali Mazrooei currently lives outside of Iran.
In the past few years, IFJ has issued press passes for several Iranian journalists. The applications were monitored by some self-appointed AOIJ members who were not elected by other members.
Recently, AOIJ has called out, in Persian(Farsi), on eligible applicants to submit their documents to receive press passes.
One of the eligibility criteria for the application reads, “only documents and writing samples in Farsi would be eligible. Avoid submitting samples in other languages.”
The stated linguistic discrimination is against the international laws for journalists as well as human rights. In a multicultural country like Iran, this criterion is a blatant violation of the right of journalists who write in their mother tongues, such as Kurdish, Turkish, Arabic, Balouchi, etc.
Even though non-Farsi speakers in Iran have faced restrictions in applying their mother language in media and educational systems, they are offered the opportunity to publish in bi-lingual publications alongside Farsi. For this reason, some journalists only write in their own language and not in Farsi.
To deprive journalists who write in their mother tongue from joining international circles is an unacceptable act of discrimination. This condition not only violates global laws, but also Iran’s law that allows some marginal use of mother languages.
IFJ identifies itself as part of “international unions” and is against discriminations and using media as a platform to spread propaganda, prejudice or to declare war.
We are a group of journalists who stand against AOIJ’s linguistic discrimination and demand that this group immediately revoke the Farsi-only criteria.
The independent journalists signing this statement include but are not limited to those who write in languages other than Farsi, and we demand that AOIJ that identifies itself as part of an international organization remain respectful of multilingualism. Journalists’ value needs to be measured by their integrity and work ethics and not their language.
Since the IFJ says it “promotes international action to defend press freedom and social justice through strong, free and independent trade union of journalists,” it should stand in the way of AOIJ’s attempt to reproduce linguistic discrimination already widespread in Iran.
Ahmad Barahouei Nejad
Behrooz Karami Mirazizi
Ebrahim Ahrari Khalaf
Fakhteh Luna Zamani
Mahmoud Barahouei Nejad
Mohammadreza Torabi Notaj
Parviz Bahadorzahi Rigi
Susan Mohammadkhani Ghiasvand
Yousef Azizi Benitorof