May 19, 2021
The Tehran Journalists’ Association has condemned the violent attack on a journalist in Tehran as she was reporting on a vaccination roll-out, citing it as evidence of how the “insecurity of the journalism profession in Iran” had intensified.
Faezeh Momeni, a reporter for Sobh-e newspaper and the Rouydad 24 website, suffered a broken arm and finger on May 18 after she was assaulted by security guards at the Saei complex in Tehran, where vaccinations were taking place. Momeni had interviewed medical staff from Shahid Beheshti University for Medical Sciences and took notes on other aspects of the vaccination process. As she was leaving, she was stopped and interrogated by intelligence security guards. Then she was physically attacked.
Momeni’s arm and one of her fingers were broken during the clash. She was taken to the hospital, where she underwent surgery. The journalist confirmed reports that one of the agents deleted her interviews after forcibly seizing her devices, posting on Twitter that this happened despite the fact that she had obtained prior permission to carry out the interviews. “I was in the vaccination center for an hour and a half and interviewed doctors and medical staff,” she wrote. “I was leaving when the security guard told me to give him my mobile phone and then deleted all my voice files. I ignored him. He grabbed me and, in the clash, broke my finger. They have operated on my hand and put bolts in it.”
Fellow Journalists Share News of the Attack
Iranian journalists went on to Twitter to express solidarity with Momeni and report on her ordeal. Marzieh Amiri tweeted: “Faezeh Momeni, our colleague at Rouydad 24, went to the Saei complex yesterday to report on vaccinations. When she was leaving, the security guard deleted her interview files, and after she resisted, they broke her arm. A broken arm, an operating room, and bolts to hold her together are the reward for a journalist who told the story of what was going on in the vaccination centers.”
The Tehran Journalists’ Association condemned the attack in a statement issued on May 18, saying it was completely illegal and one of the worst it had seen. It said intelligence security guards from the Saei neighborhood, and part of the Shahid Beheshti University for Medical Sciences, carried out the attack against the journalist, who was working at the time. The journalists’ group also said the agents had confiscated Momeni’s belongings, which it also described as an illegal act.
“The Tehran Journalists’ Association strongly condemns this behavior and expects officials from Shahid Beheshti University for Medical Sciences to immediately take legal action against this illegal and arbitrary behavior by their agents,” the statement said. “They should also formally apologize to Ms. Momeni.”
The University of Medical Sciences has not commented on the incident.
Friends of Momeni told Journalism is Not A Crime, IranWire’s sister site, that the journalist had been discharged from the hospital, but is still in a lot of pain.
The journalists’ group also criticized the general disregard officials have for the rights of the media and journalists, and the dangerous climate in which these professionals are forced to work. “The number of violations against journalists has reached such a level that it has become permissible to commit such a criminal, degrading and aggressive act,” the statement read.