Saturday, February 26, 2005

The "journalism" of U.S. Funded Radio Farda and the conviction of Iranian Blogger

for a long time i've been meaning to write-up a comparative analysis of Arabic language Radio Sawa and its Persian language twin Radio Farda, both of which are U.S. backed and U.S funded, and both were created as the cultural arm of U.S. expansionism in West Asia. (The Iran Democracy Act explicitly articulates this role of Radio Farda; and see this story in the Washington Post about the failures of Radio Sawa to promote "pro-American attitudes, according to a draft report prepared by the State Department's inspector general".)

anyway, this wont be the post where i'm going to extensively talk about Farda and Sawa, but i do have a few things to say about them.

The stations play both "native" and "western" (read: U.S. produced) music. And wouldnt you know it, their play list of U.S. songs are identical; they've been recycling the same handful of songs forever, every now and again throwing a current "chart topper" into the mix. In the broadcasts of the Persian station, a woman announces--in what i presume is supposed to be a seductive whisper: "radio farda"; you hear the same wanna-be sexy whisper on the Arabic station announcing the words "radio sawa". And both stations have a "question of the week" program where they ask people to call in to answer what are usually inane questions that barely mask their propagandist/provocative intentions. (somebody should tell them that inanity is not the same as subtlety!)

Anyway, i just heard radio farda announce this week's question which is something like: is the government right in trying to control weblogs?

This question, of course, is alluding to the Iranian regime's crack down on bloggers and comes on the heels of the stunning 14 year sentence that blogger Arash Cigarchi received .

Radio Farda, it would seem, is concerned to bring attention to the plight of this and other embattled bloggers in iran. it is all about the safety and protection of iranians right?

nope, not so fast.....

It was this same radio Farda who, irresponsibly and without accountability, exposed cigarchi's name in what was supposed to be an anonymous interview. Cigarachi himself accused radio farda in a letter he wrote following his summons to court. The letter is posted here and is in Persian. I will cut and paste some relevant portions here as well as a quick translation below it for non-Persian speakers.

here is the original text:

در حقیقت بخش اعظم اتهامات من ارتباط با رادیو فردا بود. جالب است که بدانی بخشی هم مربوط به سوتی هایی بود که در زمان پخش مصاحبه های من صورت می گرفت. من با اسم مستعار مصاحبه می کردم اما یکهو مصاحبه ای که با اسم آرش سیگارچی انجام شده بود پخش می شد.
باور کن هیچ امیدی به آنها نداشته ام و ندارم. هر چند که بدم نمی آید در یک رسانه فراگیرتر از روزنامه ام مثل رادیو همکاری کنم اما مطمئن باش ماندن در ایران هنوز برای من جایگاهی مهم دارد...... من انتظاری از رادیو ها ندارم اما بد نیست جنبشی شکل گیرد که آنها را با حقوق شان در قبال مایی که در ایران با هزاران خطر در گیریم ، آشنا کند.

my quick translation:

"in truth the biggest portion of the accusations against me pertained to Radio Farda. You will be interested to know that some of it had to also do with the sounds broadcast during the time of my interview. I was doing the interview with a pen name and then suddenly they would announce that were doing an interview with Arash Cigarchi. Believe me I placed no hope in them [radio farda] and I still dont...I don't expect anything from radio stations but it might not be a bad idea if a movement developed that familiarized them with their responsibilities to those of us who face a thousand dangers in Iran."

It seems that in their haste to bring "freedom and democracy" to Iran, Radio Farda, like their benefactors in the State Department, end up endangering and undermining the very people who are capable of bringing about real change in their own societies.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Why God is a Lur

Sorry, but this will only make sense for Persian speakers familiar with Iranian ethnic groups. I could try to translate it, but I think it would kill the humor. Anyway, it is taken from Abtahi's latest post, where he is describing an argument that took place at a commemoration/mourning ceremony in honour of imam hossein:

در همانجا كه نشسته بودم، عده اي لر كه هم ولايتي آقاي كروبي بودند نيز اجتماع كرده بودند، بين تركها و لرها متلك پراني با مزه اي بود. جمعي كه آنجا نشسته بودند خيلي هاشان فاميلشان با پسوند "وند" بود و ظاهراً وند هم از خصوصيات فاميل لرهاست. دعوا كه بالا گرفت يكي از لرها گفت: همين بس كه خدا هم لر است. چون او را خداوند مي گويند با پسوند "وند". به اينجا كه دیگه رسيد بحث بين آنها تمام شد

Saying No to Bush in Belgium

Iranians protesting Bush's presence in Belgium

Others in Belgium, bearing the snow and cold to show their opposition to bush's visit

for these and other images, along with Nabavi's report(in Persian) about the demonstrations, press here.

i'm sure there are some great photos from germany too, will post links as soon as i have any.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

woke up this morning to the sad news of another fatal quake in iran, so far nearly 400 people are reported to have been killed.

just heard on the bbc that iran is the world's most earthquake prone spot, located on the convergence of three plates that are constantly squeezing it. an appropriate metaphor, i think, for capturing iran's cultural, political, and social facets if you change the 3 plates to 300, or perhaps 3000.


next door in iraq, interest seems to have waned in the elections. how on earth chalabi ended up being a top contender in the prime minister race is beyond me. remember last month's announcement by the iraqi minister of defense that chalabi would be soon arrested? how about when U.S forces raided Chalabi's home and offices last spring, seizing documents and computers? U.S. suspicions that he was a double agent for iran? oh, and never mind the falsified documents and "intelligence" he provided in helping the U.S. administration make their phony WMD claims.

as for the democratic process in iran, the presidential elections are coming up in june, and we still dont have official announcements of candidates. it wont matter who is running, of course, if scott ritter is right in claiming that plans for a june attack on iran have been submitted to the president, and that bush has approved them.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Post-Election Blues

"Postelection Optimism Ebbing in Iraq", so says the LA Times, which nonetheless manages to pull off a elections-and-allawi-are-great ending.

Now I'm still wondering how an election commission that counted "8 million" votes in 9 days needed half a week to count a mere 300 ballots, but that's a tangent at the moment. More important is that the results of the much raved about election are due out any hour now, and we will really see a nose dive in optimism then, i'm afraid. Suddenly, the same people bursting with joy at the site of a "free Iraqi election" will start back-tracking and finding excuses for why the election was flawed.

Then again, the extra days the commission took may have been just enough to cook up some acceptable results, in which case the celebratory claims will continue unabated.

Either way, the consequences for the Iraqi people will be ugly...

Friday, February 11, 2005

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

More anti-war Irani blogs

He only has two posts so far, but the new blogger writing under the name Notes of Iranian Boy has a quirky sense of humor and some astute political observations. My favorite so far is the subtitle of his blog: "It is easier to resist the united states government than a fine hamburger".

while i'm introducing anti-war iranian blogs, can i direct your attention to the additions on my side bar? There are two new group blogs: No War on Iran and Iranians for Peace.

If you know of any other sites/blogs who have opposition to a war on iran as a central component, let me know and i will link to them. Maybe keep an ongoing list on the side-bar.