Never know what you’ve got till its gone


Yesterday was World Press Freedom Day and truth be told I’d never heard of it before a reminder from the International Center for Journalists landed in my e-mail basket at work.


This morning I learned that the event was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in 1993 “to remind us all . . . of the crucial role a free press plays in strengthening democracies and fostering development around the world.”


That reminded me to read a message that had been sitting unopened in my in-box. It was from Reporters Without Borders and it noted the arrest of two Chinese dissidents, “Zhu Yufu, a member of the banned China Democracy Party and his 26-year old son, Zhu Ang.”


The message, which said Zhu Yufu had been jailed previously for seven years, reprinted a statement he had made upon his release in September 2006:

“No matter how much pressure I am under, I will continue down this path. Now I am more determined! After coming out of prison, I want to recount my experiences inside prison to the whole world. I may go to prison again after that. If so, I will continue telling the world from prison about the evil nature of Communist Party politics.

His courage teaches us the meaning of character and the price of freedom.


I found another similar note in my in-box also from RWB. It scolded Iranian officials for ordering jail sentences for four women, still free pending appeals, who had:

“participated in an online campaign for a million signatures to get laws that discriminate against women changed . . . Their convictions have coincided with a government campaign for the “dress laws” to be respected. As they do every spring, the police have been harassing women who wear brightly-colored clothes or cloaks that are too waisted, who are showing too much hair or who are displaying their ankles.”

Another an amazing lesson about freedom. Confronting a stupid law requires officials to expend time and power in its enforcement. They’d much rather the populace be cowed thus sparing them the burden of confronting their own brutality.


Of course defiance comes at a price. So on this day that I didn’t know existed until yesterday let me at least note names of these four women:



  • Fariba Davoudi Mahajer, a former contributor to several pro-reform newspapers;

  • Sussan Tahmassebi, an activist and editor of the English-language version of the Wechange website;

  • Noushin Ahmadi Khorasani, editor of the magazines Jense Dovom (Second Sex) and Fasle Zana (Woman’s Season); and

  • Parvin Ardalan, a journalist who writes for Jense Dovom and various websites including Zanestan.