A hug in the pain of mourning. The photo of the parents of the young Amini, who was murdered by the Ethon Police for not wearing her headscarf properly, went around the world and caused strong protests in Iran. Journalist Niloufar Hamedi had the courage to publish her photo in mid-September on social media.

Countless women have similar experiences with the notorious police, but details of their arrests rarely come to light. The death of the young Amini from the Kurdish regions of Iran, however, caused the biggest protests in the country in decades. At the same time, another young journalist, Elaheh Mohammadi, also reported on Amini in her hometown of Saghes, and wrote about the funeral, which was attended by thousands of people. The protests then start to spread like wildfire and Amini becomes a symbol of protest.

They are accused as enemies of the state

Six days after her death, security forces raid Hamedi’s home. Mohammadi is arrested a week later. Their relatives hope that they will be released soon, but in vain. Secret services consider journalists “foreign agents”.

Now his controversial trials are about to begin. The journalists have been in prison for over eight months. Hamedi is 30 years old and her colleagues describe her as a kind woman who only does her job. He works for the popular newspaper Shargh, which regularly publishes critical articles. At the same time, the 36-year-old Mohammadi has been a columnist for the Hammihan newspaper for years and writes about women’s rights.

Both media outlets deny the allegations against the two female employees. After the wave of protests, “the atmosphere is just bad,” says a journalist from a well-known media outlet in Tehran who prefers to remain anonymous. The pressure has become much greater, he says.

Violence and repression

The extent of the state crackdown on media professionals during the protests can be seen in figures from the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) in New York. Nearly 100 journalists were arrested, most of whom have since been released on bail.

Their family members are also under pressure and journalists across the country are calling for the trials to be held in public. There is great concern that the women will be sentenced to harsh sentences behind closed doors. The trials will be held before a notorious revolutionary court in Tehran, whose president Abholghasem Salawati has a reputation as a particularly strict and harsh judge.

The case of the two journalists has attracted the attention of many international media. However, at the same time that Niloufar Hamedi and Elaheh Mohammadi are in the infamous Evin prisons, Unesco honored the two women for their courageous work with the Freedom of the Press Award at the beginning of May. “It is more important than ever to recognize all the women journalists whose work is being hindered,” said Audrey Azoulay, director-general of Unesco, presenting the rationale for the decision.