An Iranian journalist apologized to viewers for “the 13 years I told you lies” after quitting her job with state-run television.
Gelare Jabbar joined at least two other anchors from Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting who have resigned, taking to Instagram with a statement that was apparently deleted soon after to say she was leaving.
“It was very hard for me to believe that our people have been killed,” she wrote, according to The Guardian. “Forgive me that I got to know this late. And forgive me for the 13 years I told you lies.”
Meanwhile, the other IRIB anchors also addressed supporters in statements issued about their decisions.
“Thank you for accepting me as anchor until today,” Zahra Khatami said. “I will never get back to TV. Forgive me.”
“Thank you for your support in all years of my career, fellow anchor Saba Rad said. “I announce that after 21 years working in radio and TV, I cannot continue my work in the media. I cannot.”
The resignations come amid the fallout following the Iranian regime’s handling of the shooting down of a Ukrainaian passenger plane. Iran’s government initially denied responsibility but soon acknowledged that the plane was shot down by mistake by members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp.
The tragic loss of life came as Iran rained down missiles on bases in Iraq where American troops are housed following the killing of Iranian Quds Gen. Qassem Soleimani in a U.S. airstrike last week.
Anti-government protests have erupted in Iran’s cities in reaction to the actions by the oppressive Islamic regime and some of the news agencies close to it have been reporting on the demonstrations.
The country is witnessing “a funeral for public trust” that is taking a toll on the news media services, Tehran-based Association of Iranian Journalists said in a statement.
“There is little trust in the government and people want more freedom. The lies they said about the shooting down of the airplane [have] lost public trust. The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps know it very well,” Ghanbar Naderi, a commentator on Iran’s state-run Press TV said.
“Millions and millions took [to] the streets following the assassination of Qassem Suleimani,” Naderi told BBC Radio Today. “It was a rare moment of unity but the IRGC blew it.”
Naderi explained that, as a journalist, he felt a sense of obligation to report the truth.
“As a journalist you need to be able to sleep at night. I will never ever distance myself from the truth,” he said. “This a great nation. It has made many mistakes that are unacceptable. If the IRGC shot down a civilian airplane, I have no choice but to condemn it.”
The Association of Iranian Journalists also called out the “false information” from state-owned media outlets.
“The publication of false information has had a severe impact on public confidence and public opinion, and more than ever shook the media’s shaky position. The situation has become so complex,” the group said, according to the Guardian.
“We lie loudest when we lie to ourselves; and Islamic Republic of Iran state television employees acknowledge that their credibility has been lost,” the statement continued,”unaware that the credibility of this media and most of the domestic media had long since vanished.”
“It should be noted, however, that other media outlets objected to the situation, but the Islamic Republic of Iran’s state television favoured [sic] it,” the statement read. “This incident showed that people cannot trust official data and journalists should try to fill this gap as much as possible.”
Iranian newspapers had also reportedly voiced their frustration over an exodus of readers who were turning to international media to find out what really happened with the plane crash. Reformist newspaper Etemad demanded information, asking how long the IRGC knew that it had shot down the flight, killing all 176 on board.
A spokesman for Iran’s judiciary announced that arrest had been made in connection with the accidental shooting down of the plane.
Gholamhossein Esmaili revealed that “extensive investigations have taken place and some individuals are arrested.”
Iran is ranked 170th in the world press freedom index out of 180 countries according to Reporters Without Borders with “unrelenting” state control of news. The regime has also imprisoned or executed at least 860 journalists since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
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