Thursday, June 23, 2005


Gary Metz of has written an open letter to the international media in Iran. I will follow DrZin's instruction (Bloggers: Help remind the international media to ask the hard questions!) and contact a few journalists and editors regarding this letter.

Bloggers please post this on your blog or write your own.

We need our readers to send this letter to all the major news media around the world; we need to find just a few editors and journalists to respond positively to make a huge difference. (, 06/23/05.)

Here is the letter. Please click on the link to see the original letter with hyperlinks.

An Open Letter to The International Media in Iran

Your profession is a noble one. A free press is foundational to a free society.

In challenging powerful institutions to answer the hard questions others fear to ask, journalists have led to the collapse of corrupt leaders and helped ensured our democracy. You have done so by reporting the truth in spite of the threats and objections of those in power.

Reporting from Iran is dangerous. It is hard to tell the truth in Iran. It takes courage. We are all to aware of the case of photo-journalist Kazemi, who was murdered by the Iranian government, for merely photographing a demonstration at Evin Prison.

But you are in a unique position. Unlike Kazemi your fellow journalists are there with you and can report on any mistreatment of you or other journalists during your short time in Iran. As a result, the regime is unlikely to treat you as they treated Kazemi.

You are in Iran right now because the world is focused on the events there. The stakes could not be greater. You have spoken to the many Iranians longing for real democracy inside of Iran. All they ask is for us to stand with them in their quest for a real democracy there.

You have a rare opportunity to speak for the voiceless people of Iran and to inform your readership of the true nature of the people of Iran and their regime.

A few years ago, the media had a similar opportunity in Iraq. Like Iran, Iraq required you to take government minders. They took you where they wanted you to go and let you report only that which the Iraqi government wanted you to report. Some of you refused to submit to this charade. Others did not. It was a shameful bit of history. We must not repeat it.

In your time, in Iran you are our eye and ears. You can report the facts in ways the Iranian journalists cannot. You can ask the difficult questions to the leaders of a regime who are openly calling for the destruction of western civilization. We need your services now more than ever.

Human Rights Watch, an organization not known to pull punches when criticizing either the United States or Israel, warned us that the elections were "pre-cooked" and would be "neither free nor fair."

Others have gone so far as to suggest the reason foreign correspondents are not reporting the extensive fraud claims of last week's election. They claim the reports of vote rigging by other candidates and the suspicious result for Ahmadinejad is part of the general conspiracy to elect the Rafsanjani, as the next president.

But honorable journalists do not pay politics in this manner. It is to you I am speaking, the real journalists.

What can you do?

First, you can challenge the results of the elections in ways that the Iranian journalists cannot. If you are thrown out of the country you can report that. Your editors may not like it, but in so doing you will retain your honor and the respect of the Iranian people.

Regarding last week's election, you could ask:

1. Why were some Iranian newspapers certain three days before the election that 30 million people would turn out to vote (exactly as the official number now indicates)?
2. Why should the world accept the vote totals given to by a government well known for its corruption?
3. What proof does the government have that the vote totals were legitimate?
4. What does the government have to disprove the allegation by a member of the Interior Ministry that the actual voter turnout was 7-10%?
5. Why have so many people reported virtually empty polling stations when the government reports a heavy turnout? See a few of the many examples: here, here, and here.
6. Why, if the turnout was as large as the government claims, did Iranian TV broadcast video of previous elections as if they were live broadcasts? (Banners in the background showed these broadcasts to refer to the last Presidential election and parliamentary elections).
7. How do the government explain their reports of massive voting when one of your fellow journalist's, who went on their own to a polling station, reported only 150 voters had arrived by mid-afternoon.
8. Why did the military governor for Tabriz, suddenly reduce the figure for those eligible to vote despite the previous published figures by Tabriz election authorities just to get the participation level over the 50% mark.
9. How is it possible that the government reported Rafsanjani in the lead prior to the first ballot having been reviewed?
10. How was it possible for the government to report a tight race before the closing of the polling stations?
11. Why did the Guardian Council insert itself in the election when it is forbidden by Iran's constitution?
12. Initially, the Interior Ministry had Mr. Rafsanjani and Mr. Karroubi, the former speaker of the Parliament. What changed?
13. One of the newspapers wrote that Hashemi and another candidate went to the second round, before the results were even announced.
14. Where did the government suddenly find an extra 1 million votes for Ahmedinejad?
15. How on earth could Iranian newspapers report that Ahmadinejad was in second place at 7 o'clock in the morning, the time when it gets published and distributed, when first official results were only announced at 8am?
16. Why is no one investigating the allegation that about two million Pakistani Shiites from Quetta were provided with Iranian passports, and bused into the country to vote.
17. Why did the Guardian Council only agree to allow a recount of 100 randomly-selected ballot boxes out of a total of more than 41,000?
18. Why is no one investigating the allegation that the Guardian Council organized a 140 billion rials (15.5 million dollars) operation involving 300,000 people?
19. Who is looking at the documents that Candidate Karroubi said he had that proved voter fraud?
20. Why is no one asking the major opposition leaders their opinion on the legitimacy of the vote?
21. Why were there more votes recorded in the South Khorrasan province than there are voters?
22. Why is the Interior Ministry claiming, there was a widespread pattern of official interference and that they have exact information about the people and institutions who have been acting in directing and shaping votes the day before the election.

Regarding next Friday's run off election, you may ask:

1. Given the widespread fraud of last Friday's election, how will the government ensure the entire run off election process will now be fair and transparent?
2. Given the historic corruption of Rafsanjani and this past week's allegation of vote rigging by Ahmedinejad, why should we believe that the results of this runoff will be legitimate?
3. Will the government now permit all journalists to visit any polling station in the country without the help of government minders and video tape the turnout, whether larger or small and let the world see the truth? If they deny you such access, report it.
4. Why is no one reporting on the condition of the political prisoners on a hungers strike inside of Iran?

Reporters in Iran, do the right thing! Ask the hard questions! Show the courage that other great journalists have shown before you. The future of Iran, and perhaps western civilization may depend on your courage.


(, An Open Letter to The International Media in Iran, 06/23/05.)


Robert Tracinski of The Intellectual Activist has the following comment:

Only a few newspapers are paying much attention to what is going on in Iran; the LA Times is one of them, though it tends to focus on "moderate" reformers who don't explicitly challenge the Islamic state or call for "regime change." This profile is interesting for a different reason, though: it highlights the rule of "blogs" and the creation of an Iranian dissident network known as "weblogistan." (, 06/23/05.)