The Iranian Writers Association calls on PEN International and all PEN centres to recognise 4 December as The International Day Against Censorship.
The Iranian Writers Association (IWA), in commemoration of two of its members who were assassinated 15 years ago, has called for 4 December to be The International Day Against Censorship. Mohammad Mokhtari and Mohammad-Jaafar Pooyandeh were both abducted and murdered on 3 and 8 December 1998 during The Chain Murders of Iran – an operation carried out by the Islamic regime in Iran during the late 80s and 90s which saw more than 80 writers, poets, intellectuals and activists abducted, killed and disappeared. The IWA, its member and writers were the prime target of this operation, during which many writers were murdered. The IWA chose 4 December as it falls between the dates that both Mokhtari and Pooyandeh were murdered.
In a statement released today The IWA calls on organisations and individuals active internationally in all social fields to support their initiative to recognise 4 December as The International Day Against Censorship. In highlighting the destructive power of censorship and the extent that the Islamic regime in Iran has employed such a weapon against freedom in all forms, The IWA wants to remind the world of the way a totalitarian state controls all aspect of people’s lives by imposing censorship.
The IWA statement emphasises that censorship goes hand in hand with all kinds of suppression. With the help of censorship, widespread corruption in Iran has remained uncovered, press reports of mass killings have been labelled as espionage, the number of books published in a society of 85 million people has been reduced to only 200 books annually, theatre, cinema and music have been labelled disgusting. Writers, artists and journalists have been arrested and pushed into exile. Slow internet speeds have reduced accessibility to a bare minimum. Censorship imposed by the government has deprived women from many sectors of the arts industries and consequently as human beings to determine their destiny.
In another part of their statement The IWA outlines that the “Woman, Life, Freedom” movement in the past year has revealed the importance of declaring an International Day Against Censorship.
PEN Sydney has repeatedly expressed its deep concern about the worsening circumstances of freedom of expression and the widening of censorship in Iran and around the world. Recently, during the current crisis of the Israel-Palestine war, the status of freedom of expression has been violated excessively and censorship has been imposed in many different forms. While March 12 has been announced as The World Day Against Cyber Censorship and May 3 as World Press Freedom Day, we support The IWA’s call for a designated day against censorship in all its forms. We call on PEN International and PEN Centres to start a campaign and establish working groups and relevant committees to work towards the declaration of 4 December as The International Day Against Censorship.
4 December. 2023