In its third chapter, the MGO bill clarifies the process of membership in the organization and the rights that come with it. According to articles 61 and 62 of the bill, only journalists who are members of this organization have the right to look for stories, carry media equipment, participate in press conferences and receive equipment and financial support from the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance. Additionally, only licensed journalists are entitled to a jury of their peers and a public hearing.
Mina believes that if this bill passes, even the limited amount of press freedom that currently exists in Iran will be taken away. She said, “These past few years, as journalists were being arrested and imprisoned, there never was any committee responsible for following up on these arrests. If this bill is passed, the situation will become a hundred times worse. All independent voices will be shut down.”
The promise of reopening the Press Association, a campaign pledge of Rouhani during his 2013 campaign, is yet to be realized. During the aftermath of the disputed 2009 presidential election, on Aug. 3 that year, the association’s office was shut down by the orders of then-Tehran prosecutor general Saeed Mortazavi.
Mina says that considering the current situation, Rouhani’s administration does not have a strong will to reopen the media guild. “Numerous times during the past 40 years, we were told that the press situation would improve, but the establishment always wanted more power in censoring and limiting the freedom of information. I think that Hassan Rouhani will end his second term as president without delivering on the promises that he has made,” Mina added.
(Picture credit: Josh Hallett)