In a special report published in London on June 20, the Committee to Protect Journalists points out that of the 67 journalists who were forced into exile worldwide over the past 12 months, more than half came from Iran and Cuba.
Between June 1, 2010 and May 31, 2011, the governments of countries in the Middle East and North Africa, the Americas, Africa, Asia, Europe and Central Asia used imprisonment, the threat of being jailed, physical attacks, the threat of violence, and prolonged harassment to force journalists to leave their homeland. None of the 67 has to date been able to return home.
The Iranian regime, well known for its ferocious campaign against any sort of opposition, kicked out 18 journalists. The Castro regime in Cuba tied this sorry record with 18 expelled journalists of its own. Furthermore, the Cuban dictatorship accounts for all but one of the journalists forced out in the Americas: the only other country in the region to make the list is Mexico, with a single newspaperman gone into exile.
The highly repressive nature of the Castro regime is again highlighted when we compare its record of persecuting journalists with that of a failed state like Somalia, which expelled 3 journalists in the period covered by the CPJ report, or that of a fellow dictatorship like Syria, which expelled 2.
It is important to note that, as stated on the Committee’s webpage, “CPJ's survey counts only those journalists who fled due to work-related persecution, who remained in exile for at least three months, and whose current whereabouts and activities are known. It does not include the many journalists and media workers who left their countries for professional or financial opportunities, those who left due to general violence, or those who were targeted for activities other than journalism, such as political activism.”
Image from www.elmundo.esAttribution
Mercedes Fresneda (l) and Sonia Garro (r), Cuban opposition activists.
In Cuba, dissent is a crime. Not only journalists go to jail for expressing a dissenting view. As reported by Capitol Hill Cubans on June 22, quoting an item from Spain’s El Mundo newspaper, Sonia Garro, an Afro-Cuban opposition activist, states that intelligence officials in Havana have informed her that a criminal case may be brought against her and six other women who organize peaceful protest marches in the streets of the capital. The international community should think about protecting ordinary citizens of Cuba who have the courage to express in public their opposition to the oldest uninterrupted family dictatorship in the world today.