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Police officers prepare a rope ahead of a public hanging in Iran.

Amnesty International has launched a Persian-language website, saying it aims to increase access to information on abuse in Iran amid "an all-out assault on human rights" by the authorities, including arbitrary detention, enforced disappearance, torture, and extrajudicial executions.

The new website, launched on Human Rights Day on December 10, includes, among other things, research and legal analysis of "shocking" human rights violations, as well as recommendations to the international community to tackle "this crisis of impunity," the London-based human rights watchdog said in a statement.

The launch came as the BBC urged the international community to take "robust" action to force the Iranian authorities to put an end to their "escalating campaign" of harassment and intimidation against its journalists and their families at home and abroad.

Diana Eltahawy, deputy regional director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International, said that Iran "suffers from a deepening human rights crisis, with hundreds of individuals on death row following unfair trials -- including those arrested as children -- and thousands persecuted or arbitrarily detained for peacefully exercising their human rights.

"The families of thousands of people killed or forcibly disappeared by the authorities are left waiting for truth and justice," she also said, while rights defenders and dissidents who "speak out against repression and injustice endure grave human rights violations."

Meanwhile, the BBC said in a statement that staff from its Persian-language service have endured more than a decade of harassment and attacks, including asset freezes and arbitrary arrest of relatives.

"In the past year, threats against BBC News Persian staff and Persian-speaking journalists outside Iran have escalated. Death threats and threats of extra-territorial harm have been made towards BBC News Persian staff in London, leading to police involvement and protection," the British broadcaster said.

BBC World Service lawyers Caoilfhionn Gallagher and Jennifer Robinson called on the international community "to take immediate, robust action to ensure Iran is held accountable, and BBC News Persian journalists can report without fear."

The broadcaster said its Persian-language service had a weekly global audience of nearly 22 million people, including some 13 million in Iran.

With reporting by AFP and RFE/RL's Radio Farda
Dmitry Muratov delivers a speech during the Nobel Peace Prize award ceremony at the Oslo City Hall in Oslo, Norway, on December 10.

Nobel Peace Prize winners Dmitry Muratov and Maria Ressa have warned that a rise in authoritarian governments requires a continued commitment to independent reporting.

The two journalists received the award for 2021 at Oslo City Hall on December 10, an honor they won for their separate battles to uncover the truth in countries -- Muratov in Russia, Ressa in the Philippines -- where freedom of expression and the media have faced growing attacks, and even killings, from hostile regimes.

"Yes, we growl and bite. Yes, we have sharp teeth and strong grip," the 59-year-old Muratov said of journalists in his acceptance speech.

"But we are the prerequisite for progress. We are the antidote against tyranny," he added.

Muratov, editor-in-chief of the independent Russian newspaper Novaya gazeta, also warned that some officials in Russia appeared to be agitating for war with Ukraine.

"The powerful actively promote the idea of war," said Muratov, 59, one of the founders in 1993 of Novaya gazeta. "Moreover, in [the] heads of some crazy geopoliticians, a war between Russia and Ukraine is not something impossible any longer."

U.S. officials have said Russia could soon invade Ukraine following a buildup of troops near the Ukrainian border. Moscow has denied it is planning an invasion.

In her speech, Ressa, who co-founded Rappler, a news website critical of the Philippine government, noted that for independent journalism to survive, greater protection must be given to journalists and countries must stand up against states that target journalists.

Muratov said journalism in Russia was going "through a dark valley," with more than 100 journalists, media outlets, human rights defenders and nongovernmental organizations having been branded as "foreign agents."

"In Russia, this means 'enemies of the people,'" Muratov said, dedicating his prize to "the entire community of investigative journalists" and his colleagues at Novaya gazeta who lost their lives, including Anna Politkovskaya, who was gunned down in her apartment building in Moscow 15 years ago after angering the Kremlin with dispatches from the war in Chechnya.

"I want journalists to die old."

The International Federation of Journalists in Brussels said on December 9 that imprisonments of media workers were on the rise, with 365 journalists behind bars compared with 235 last year. Nine journalists have been killed in the line of duty in Afghanistan alone and 102 imprisoned in China.

Together with the medals with the effigy of the prize founder Alfred Nobel and a diploma, came 10 million kronor ($1.1 million) to be shared between them.

With reporting by Reuters, AFP, and AP

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About This Blog

"Watchdog" is a blog with a singular mission -- to monitor the latest developments concerning human rights, civil society, and press freedom. We'll pay particular attention to reports concerning countries in RFE/RL's broadcast region.


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