(en) Stop the War against freedom of the press in Jordan

Mr. Tell (mustafa@MTN.Org)
Wed, 11 Jun 1997 12:25:18 -0500 (CDT)

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Greetings all;

I need to make you aware of some major developments in the media world in Jordan. These developments have resulted in many media professionals being in jail and subjected to physical punishment. Jordanian journalists need your help. They need the world to know what is going on in a country that claims it is moving towards democracy yet just forced a press law that will force at most opposition papers to close down.

The Jordanian leadership is forcing a new press law that limits the freedom of the press in a very clever way. The whole Jordanian press association (something like unions) have resigned in protest of the new press law (they were forced to withdraw their resignations by the government). Many of the media people in Jordan took to the streets in protests. Some of these protesters are now in jail and many, including editors of newspapers, were beaten up.

The new Jordanian press law is designed to make it impossible for independent voices to be heard. Only the corrupt rich who enrich themselves from the misery of the Jordanian people will be able to own and maintain a media outlet in Jordan. These kind of people work hand in hand with the Jordanian leadership and will never cause a threat to the leadership that makes it possible for them to exploit the country's resources and its peoples toil.

In the new law a daily paper must have a 600 thousand Jordanian Dinars (almost one million dollar) capitol. In the old law the capitol required was only 50 thousand J.D. This is a %1200 increase and the papers have only three months to raise this capitol! The non-daily publications must increase their capitol from 15 thousand J.D. to 300 thousand J.D according to the new press law. It does not stop there. The new law increases the fines to the point of making them impossible to afford by any honest journalist. Fines can be imposed on journalists for any coverage that could be regarded as disparaging the royal family, the army, the diplomatic corps or the heads of friendly countries. Journalists will also be fined for any coverage that could threaten the national security and unity or religious stability. Basically, with the new law, Jordanian journalist can only write about the price of tomatoes. Even that may be considered a threat for national security knowing how things operate in Jordan!

While what is going on in Jordan is not so surprising for people who studied the history of the Jordanian leadership and the history of the modern Arab states, the reaction of the so called champions of human rights and the so called warriors of democracy in the West is very surprising. Most local media outlets in the U.S. did not even mention the recent developments in Jordan even though wire services had some stories about these developments. Also, I have yet to hear a single word of condemnation from any official in the West. This adds insult to injury. The Jordanian people, and the people in the Arab world, are learning that Western democracy and Western human rights are nothing but a marketing tool. I urge everyone to contact their local media and demand to know how come the plight of the Jordanian journalists has no room in the so called free press? Also, please contact you local representative (if you are in the U.S.) and ask about the role of the so called human rights champion, the U.S., in the slaughter of human rights in Jordan. Finally, I urge everyone to call the Jordanian embassy wherever they are and condemn the recent developments in Jordan. If you are in the U.S. the number for the embassy is 202-966-2664. Or you can write a letter to the embassy. The address is :

3504 International Drive N.W. Washington, DC 20008-3035

Mustafa Tell Desert Rain Press http://www.mtn.org/~mustafa

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