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Journalists' Group In Iran Condemns State Media Role In Plane Crash Coverup

A child's shoe is seen where the Ukrainian airliner crashed. January 8, 2020

In an unprecedented move Tehran Province Journalists Association (TPJA) has called on Iran’s state-controlled media not to be a mouthpiece of officials and refrain from self-censorship.

Responding to the scandal surrounding the downing of a Ukrainian airliner that killed all 176 onboard, TPJA said in a statement on Monday, "We are mourning the death of public trust, and watching the coffins of official Iranian media, dailies, websites, radio, and television, and news agencies carried in a funeral procession."

The Ukraine Airlines Boeing 737 crashed last Wednesday and killed all 176 on board, but for more than 72 hours, the Islamic Republic media insisted that technical failure was the reason behind the tragedy, repeating what the denials issued by the country’s rulers.

Lambasting state-owned media for being a mouthpiece for the establishment and acting as its public relations department, TPJA has insisted that coverage of the developments related to the downing of the passenger plane was a "disastrous” case of media failure.

While banner headlines last Saturday were dismissing international reports that the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps' (IRGC) anti-air missile downed the passenger plane, TPJA said, people were reading a statement by Joint Chiefs of Staff, admitting the responsibility for shooting down the doomed Boeing 737.

TPJA's statement has also reminded that the initial cover-up activities by the authorities were an unacceptable excuse for the media not to fully report on the incident.

The statement has indeed implicitly criticized widespread self-censorship that dominates all media across the country.

Iran’s state-controlled media vehemently dismissed foreign news reports saying that the plane might have been hit by an anti-air missile and attributed them to the propaganda of “enemies” and psychological war against the Islamic Republic establishment and its armed forces.