Reaching Millions of Television Viewers in Iran Each
Washington, DC – July 7, 2008 . . . Major stories this week included increased attention to the possibility of a military attack on Iran because of its nuclear program; the status of negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 to resolve the dispute over Iran’s enrichment of uranium; ping-pong diplomacy; talk of the US opening an Interests Section in Iran; the visit to the United Nations by Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki and the continuing abuse of human rights in Iran. Interviews were conducted with the new Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, James Glassman; with Ahmad Batebi, the Iranian dissident and former student leader who talked about the years he was subjected to torture while imprisoned; with Admiral Kevin Cosgriff, commander of US Naval forces in the Middle East; with journalist Seymour Hersh on his New Yorker article on covert US administration support for Baluchis and others fighting for regime change in Iran; with the former US Ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton; and with Newsweek editor Fareed Zakaria on US-Iran relations.
Roundtable with You July 1 featured the US Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy Public Affairs, James Glassman. Mr. Glassman was sworn in several weeks ago after having served as Chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, the body that oversees Voice of America and the Persian News Network. As the Undersecretary, he is designated by the Secretary
of State to serve as one of nine members of the BBG board. In his new
position, Mr. Glassman leads America’s public diplomacy outreach, which
includes communications with international audiences, cultural programming and exchanges. On Roundtable, Mr. Glassman said cultural, educational and athletic exchanges should replace destruction, violence and the mistrust that has existed for so long between Iran and the US. “America wants everyone, especially the great people of Iran, to be free to make choices, to be participants in the global community, and to determine how to live their lives.” Asked how his office is trying to change the negative image the US has abroad, Mr. Glassman said, “America must do more to achieve a further level of trust in the world, by understanding the global community, by communicating more and by building a more responsive and friendly image.” He added that “Americans love the people of Iran and want to have friendly and normal relations with them. Undersecretary Glassman said the “people of Iran are extremely bright, friendly, educated, [and have a rich] culture. It is the government of Iran with which the United States sharply disagrees, the government and “its support for global terror [which] causes unnecessary and undue hardship for the people of Iran.” Mr. Glassman announced the creation of an interactive website that addresses many issues for the Iranian people at www.parsloop.com. He encouraged viewers to check the site and to seek information there.
NewsTalk June 30 interviewed Ahmad Batebi, a leader of the Iranian Student Movement and an activist for human rights in Iran, who said, “torture, human rights violations and abuses toward
women still are prevalent in Iran.” On NewsTalk’s set in Washington,
DC, Mr. Batebi described the physical and mental abuse of prisoners
inside Iran. Having spent more than nine years in jail, he spoke of suffering torture and abuse that triggered massive swelling of the right lobe of his brain. He observed that, “the main aim of the severe, humiliating torture that me and my fellow prisoners endured was to force us to say what the authorities wanted to hear, and if we did not adhere, they would intimidate and abuse our families.”
Mr. Batebi only recently arrived in Washington, after leaving Iran, and traveling through Iraq and Austria. During the interview, Mr. Batebi said, “I wish each and every Iranian could travel abroad, come to the US or go to Europe, for just one week, and feel, smell, and breathe freedom, human dignity, and realize the value of their lives.” Mr. Batebi gained notoriety in July 1999 for holding up a bloodied shirt belonging to Ezzat Ebrahim-Najad, a fellow student, who had been beaten by the Basij paramilitaries. Following publication of the photo on the cover of The Economist – called “an icon
for Iran’s studentreform movement” – Mr. Batebi was arrested, tried in
closed-door proceedings, found guilty and sentenced to death by
Tehran’s Revolutionary Court. His sentence was later reduced after domestic and international outcry.
Iran’s conservative Kayhan newspaper pounced on VOA/PNN’s interview with Ahmad Batebi in an article titled, “How I Earned my Bachelor’s Degree while Being Tortured.” The article said, “VOA/PNN, Rooznet and the AmirKabir web sites gave extensive coverage to his claims of severe torture. This seems odd as Rooznet has admitted Batebi was able to earn a bachelor’s degree in drama while in jail. This web site was not able to square his claims of physical and mental torture with the opportunity to pursue an advanced degree for someone accused of plotting against Iran’s national security. Batebi claimed in [NewsTalk] that all Iranians ought to travel to Europe and the United States to get a sense of liberty and freedom and to experience the kind of respect they have for human beings!!! But he didn’t make any mention of the dreadful tortures meted out at Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo and other illegal prisons and detention centers.” The paper went on to say Mr. Batebi, who was a key figure in the street
unrest of July 9 (18 Tir), was able to flee Iran while on medical leave with the help of Elahe Hicks – who they claimed was an American agent – and dissident Kurdish groups. Kayhan pointed out that Mr. Batebi is not the only [dissident] to have sought refuge in the United States, saying Ali Afshari, Akbar Atri and Manouchehr Mohammadi also fled to the US where they are now “mouthpieces for the American propaganda machine.” The paper noted that Mr. Batebi’s release was secured with collateral posted by human rights activist Lotfollah Meysami.
In an e-mail note to VOA/PNN about Kayhan’s coverage of NewsTalk’s interview with Ahmad Batebi, Elahe Hicks, a human rights expert and VOA/PNN contributor, had this to say: “Last Monday’s program made the Islamic Republic’s authorities take notice and react to the exposure of the widespread practice of torture and arbitrary detention in Iran that was heard by millions of viewers. As you know, Kayhan operates as the main mouthpiece of the Leader of the Islamic Republic and when there is a pressing issue that the leadership wants to respond to, the
newspaper’s chief editor and the staff must immediately take the matter into their hands. When the special column called Akhabar Vijeh, or the editorial, tackles an issue, the readers automatically understand that the establishment has a point to make. For example, Shirin Ebadi’s imprisonment was set up only through this column as were Haleh Esfandiari’s problems. Ahmad Batebi’s appearance on any program would be seen as important as well as breaking news. [Your] decision to put him on Monday’s show as part of the weekly human rights coverage in Iran and the exchanges during this show made Mr. Batebi’s appearance a strong and well- documented case that exposed once again the negative practices of the Islamic Republic. It was another example of the importance, reach and impact of VOA/PNN.”
News and Views July 4 interviewed Seymour Hersh, investigative journalist for The New Yorker magazine, who writes about Congress’ funding of covert military operations and that the US may be closer to armed conflict with Iran than previously imagined. “I have been doing these stories for The New Yorker for two-three years, and my fondest hope is to be dead wrong... but this President is ready to go. He doesn’t believe in his
intelligence knows exactly what is going on; they know who does what. I
just hope there is some connection between my government and the
Iranian government, some talks, some useful negotiations to stop this march toward war….There are people inside [the government] who are talking to me and they are very worried about what is happening….and I wouldn’t say desperation, but this is an administration that wants to do something about Iran if convinced Iran is not telling the truth about its nuclear capability. It does not want to see the new president coming in – particularly if it is Mr. Obama – [and have him handle this problem]. They think they have to deal with this problem…. I was writing about one of
the most secret documents of the American government, the Presidential
Finding, and perhaps the most secret operation units of the government,
more important than the CIA – the paramilitary unit known as the Joint Special Operation Command (JSOC), that works below the radar [because of the] Presidential Finding. So, I can tell you that it is accurate and absolutely reflects our honest opinion of our people. We are not trying to scare Iranians. It is not about them. It is about us... Israel has a very strong intelligence capability. I am sure it would be impossible not to have some coordination. But I am hearing that this is just an American operation.”
News and Views July 4 interviewed John Bolton, former US Ambassador to the United Nations on Iran’s willingness to renegotiate the proposal from P5+1, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany. Mr. Bolton said, “I know what happens frequently is that a person in government who sees only a tiny piece of overall reality may well be motivated to make statements that go beyond what they actually know. And those could be spun together to make an overall story that is far removed from reality.” Commenting on the Seymour Hersh article in The New Yorker, Mr. Bolton said, “I don’t know if there is a Presidential Finding that permits a covert activity or not. But my own personal view is it would be a fine thing to overthrow this regime and put in power in Tehran a government that is truly responsive to the Iranian people...I think we’re kidding ourselves if we think that the continued escalation of sanctions will dissuade the regime from nuclear weapons policy.” Mr. Bolton said he doesn’t think US negotiations with Iran will change the regime’s behavior either. “The regime has been
committed to acquiring nuclear weapons as a strategic matter for a long time,” he said. “Actually, the military option is becoming less attractive with every passing day as [Iran’s] nuclear program gets closer and closer to success.” Mr. Bolton said if force is going to be used, it would have to be sooner than later. “I don’t think Israel would attack before the US [presidential] election because it potentially would have a dramatic impact on the election – and I don’t know in what direction the impact would be.” He said he thinks if there is to be an attack, it would take
place between the election in November and the inauguration of the next president toward the end of January. “I hope that the people of Iran see that an attack against the nuclear program [would not be] an attack against them. It [would be] an attack against the threat represented by Iran’s nuclear program.”
NewsTalk July 4 focused on the possibility of a military attack on Iran, with a program that included excerpts of VOA/PNN’s interviews with Seymour Hersh of The New Yorker and former UN Ambassador John Bolton. Mr. Hersh said, “I know that in early February of this year, an American paramilitary group, JSOC, began operating inside Iran from Afghanistan, and they were doing what the CIA had been doing for years: contacting dissidents.” Mr. Hersh said there are a number of such groups, including Baluchis and Kurds on the Iran-Afghanistan border,
Sunnis who strongly oppose the Islamic regime, Jundollah, some Shi’ite groups and others. “Lots of money was passed and communications and information were given,” he said. “JSOC is the leading weapon the US has against high targets in the global war on terrorism – President Bush’s global war on terrorism. These men are assigned to find, capture and kill, if needed, terrorists we think are responsible for actions against us and our allies. So their being inside Iran is pretty significant and much more significant than the average person would know.” NewsTalk’s
excerpts from VOA/PNN’s interview with former UN Ambassador John Bolton included his statement that he’s not surprised there is dissent – sometimes violent dissent – inside Iran. “I think support for Iran’s regime is much weaker than people think. And that is why I think circumstances are conducive to regime change. But I think the US is orchestrating it badly…. I think Israel would prefer to have the approval of the United States [before an attack on Iran], but I doubt it would get it. I think the Israelis will do what they have to do on the assumption that they
are going to do it alone, and without the help of anyone else….They might ask for forgiveness later, but they won’t tell us first.”
News and Views July 2 asked Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki at a UN news conference about reports that the US might open an Interests Section after nearly 30 years absent from Tehran. Mr. Mottaki said Iran would consider such a move. “We believe that restoring relations between the United States and Iran would be a positive move…. Contacts between Iranians and Americans are a useful step for better understanding between the two nations.” As for the package of P5+1 incentives (from the five permanent members of the UN Security
Council and Germany), Mr. Mottaki said the trip taken to Tehran two weeks ago by EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana was different: it was respectful, constructive and positive. (Iran’s press attaché later elaborated on the work “respectful,” saying the West should treat a great nation like Iran equally and with respect, and that the Foreign Minister was sending a message to the US and other western countries.) Mr. Mottaki said Iran is seriously considering the package, but did not say whether Iran will stop uranium enrichment, which is one of the pre-conditions set for talks. On the possibility of a military attack on Iran’s nuclear sites by the US or Israel, he said he doesn’t expect any attack from either country, adding that Iran prefers diplomatic solutions. But if it is attacked, he said, Iran’s diplomats will step aside and the military will decide the next step. The foreign minister was in New York to attend a meeting of the UN’s Economic and Social Council from June 30 to July 3. After the press conference, VOA/PNN again asked the Iranian Mission’s press attaché for a one-on-one interview with the Foreign Minister. The attaché said it wasn’t his decision to make, but then turned around and asked, “If you get an interview with Mottaki, will you air it with another interview with Condi Rice?”
News and Views July 3 reported that Iran’s foreign minister says there is a “new atmosphere” in its talks with the P5+1 – the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany – about the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program. Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said Wednesday there have been “constructive developments” in the talks. He was speaking on a visit to the United Nations in New York. Mr. Mottaki said Iran will respond “very soon” to an incentives package proposed by P5+1 in hopes of encouraging Tehran to suspend
uranium enrichment. Iran recently offered the world powers its own plan to resolve the nuclear dispute and other global problems. Mr. Mottaki said the presentation of the two packages represents a “new process” that could lead to, in his words, a “multi-faceted” solution. Meanwhile, the Pentagon’s top military officer said Wednesday that an Israeli strike on Iranian nuclear facilities would be a high-risk move that could destabilize the Middle East. “Opening up a third front right now would be extremely stressful on us,” said Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, referring to the prospect of a direct clash with Iran while fighting continues in Iraq and Afghanistan. Admiral Mullen said the Iranians “have capabilities that could certainly hazard the Straits of Hormuz, but … I believe the ability to sustain that is not there.” In other news, European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana says he will wait for Iran’s formal response to the incentives package before commenting on the Iranian statements. Mr. Solana
traveled to Iran in June to present the offer on behalf of P5+1 (Russia, China, France, Britain, the United States and Germany). Iranian officials have previously said they are willing to negotiate details of the incentives package, but they refuse to stop enriching uranium. Speaking at the White House, President Bush said diplomacy is the first option to address Iran’s nuclear program, but he repeated that all options are on the table.
News and Views July 2 interviewed Admiral Kevin Cosgriff about the comment made last week by the Commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (General Mohammad Ali Jafari) that Iran would close the Strait of Hormuz if attacked to cut the stream of oil to the West. Admiral Cosgriff, who commands US Naval forces in the Middle East, said Iranian authorities will not close the Strait of Hormuz and are not allowed to do so as it is part of internationally recognized waters. “This is not an issue specifically between the US and Iran,” he said. “This is
an international issue concerning the stability of the global economy.” Asked what the United States would do if Iran did choose to close the Straits of Hormuz, Admiral Cosgriff said, “I think the international community will find its voice and take some action in that case. For my command, especially the Fifth Fleet, we practice every day.”
News and Views July 2 reported that US, Iranian and Western diplomats are playing down worries
about a looming Israel military attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities
after reports of heightened tensions rattled nerves. Concernabout a
confrontation flared when ABC News reported that an unnamed senior US defense official said there was an increasing likelihood that Israel would attack Iran over its nuclear program, which could prompt Tehran to retaliate against both Israel and the United States. US officials sharply dismissed the report and State Department spokesman Tom Casey said, “It’s always amazing that there are lots of anonymous sources out there who profess to know the inner will of officials in other countries – Israel or otherwise. I have absolutely no information that would substantiate that.” Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, who was in New York, told NBC News that he did not believe Israel would attack Iran.
News and Views July 6 talked with Mohsen Sazegara about Sepah, or the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, is getting multi-billion dollar no-bid contracts in Iran. Mr. Sazegara held several high-ranking positions after the 1979 revolution and served as a founder of the Revolutionary Guards before pushing for reforms and clashing with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei. He eventually was arrested and ended up moving to Britain, and then the United States in 2003. Mr. Sazegara said since the new administration has taken power, it has granted the Revolutionary Guards billions of dollars in contracts without having to make any bids. The private sector, he said, is forced to leave all major contracts to Sepah and to serve as a subcontractor if it wants to work on a project. Mr. Sazegara said only last year, the Revolutionary Guards were favored with a seven billion dollar contract in the oil and gas industry, and said it is on the verge of getting another contract worth six billion dollars. Political analyst Hassan Daei, who also is an expert on the Revolutionary Guards, agreed, telling VOA/PNN that the Islamic regime favors Sepah at the expense of the private sector. Additionally, he said, Sepah doesn’t pay taxes and doesn’t publish its annual income.
News and Views July 2 reported on the US presidential campaign, with the presumptive Republican candidate Senator John McCain visiting Colombia. In a visit with President Alvaro Uribe in the coastal city of Cartagena, Senator McCain praised Colombia’s efforts to combat drug trafficking and leftist rebels while urging the government to improve its human rights record. The lawmaker is visiting Colombia and Mexico this week to highlight his support for free trade agreements as well as his foreign policy credentials. The free-trade agreement between the US and Colombia is stalled in the Democratic-controlled US Congress due to concerns over the murders of trade unionists. Senator Obama is among those opposed to the deal. Senator McCain has said blocking the agreement would set back economic and security interests. Meanwhile, the Financial Times reports that one of Senator Obama’s senior foreign policy advisors, former National Security Advisor Anthony Lake, says the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran is the biggest threat facing the world and that Mr. Obama would push Europe to agree to tougher sanctions against Tehran. “Unless you assume that [Iranian negotiators] have IQs less than those of eggplants, they are not likely to make major concessions for the privilege of speaking with us.” Mr. Lake depicted the Democratic candidate as a tough-minded realist rather than an anti-war politician. He stressed that Senator Obama, even after withdrawing troops from Iraq over 16 months as he has promised, would maintain “a residual presence for clearly defined missions.” These would include military training, and “preparedness to go back in if there are specific acts of genocidal violence.”
News and Views July 3 had a wide-ranging interview in London on US-Iran relations with Newsweek International editor and author of The Post American World, Fareed Zakaria. He said as a main producer of oil and gas, Iran is going to be an important country. However, he said, “In order to actively be a powerful country, Iran should not merely be a producer of energy but also a producer of innovations, ideas and new technologies.” Mr. Zakaria said he used to believe there was no chance of a military attack on Iran because of the US military’s involvement in Iraq. But he said the possibility of an Israeli attack on Iranian nuclear sites is remote – but is possible. Mr. Zakaria said Israel is trying to improve its relations with Syria, Egypt and Jordan, which in his opinion, increases the possibility of an Israeli attack. He noted that so far, UN sanctions against the Islamic Republic of Iran have not been very successful. Mr. Zakaria said this is because sanctions are not particularly effective on a regime that is not very active in the global economy. Also, with the price of oil at $150 per barrel, sanctions don’t matter. With regard to talk that the US might open an Interests Section in Iran, Mr. Zakaria said he thought such a development would be a good thing, and that the United States should say and show publicly that it is interested in having good relations with the Iranian people. Mr. Zakaria said it is very important for Iranians to understand that it is not the US that is blocking relations between the two countries – it is the Islamic Republic that is blocking contacts.
News and Views June 30 reported that the US Ambassador to Iraq, Ryan Crocker, denies allegations of cross-border operations by US troops into Iran from Iraq. He commented after The New Yorker magazine published a report saying US congressional leaders agreed late last year to President Bush’s funding request for a major escalation of covert operations against Iran aimed at destabilizing its leadership. The article, by reporter Seymour Hersh, centers on a highly classified Presidential Finding signed by Mr. Bush and made known to Democratic and Republican House and Senate leaders as well as ranking members of Congress’s intelligence committees. “The Finding was focused on undermining Iran’s nuclear ambitions and trying to undermine the government through regime change,” the article said, citing a person familiar with its contents, and involved “working with opposition groups and passing money.” Clandestine operations against Iran are not new. US Special Operations Forces have been conducting cross-border operations from southern Iraq since last year, the article said. Ambassador Crocker told CNN in an interview from Baghdad that “US forces are not operating across the Iraqi border into Iran, in the south or anywhere else.”
News and Views July 5 interviewed Reza Taghizadeh, a political scientist on the faculty at Scotland’s Glasgow University, about the Islamic Republic of Iran’s reaction to the package of incentives offered by the P5+1, or five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany. He said the reason why President Ahmadinejad is quiet is because he is not an important figure. The reason why officials such as Ali Akbar Velayati, foreign policy to Iran’s Supreme Leader, are speaking out more actively than usual is because the Iranian government is not sure whether it wants to continue the enrichment of uranium or needs to give up such enrichment. Professor Taghizadeh said, “It is not sanctions or economic pressure that has forced the Islamic regime to signal its willingness to consider negotiations – it is the fear of a US attack on Iran.” He said the government of Iran is trying to buy time while it figures out what to do. Mr. Taghizadeh said economic sanctions might have hurt the Iranian people, but government officials themselves didn’t care because they were buffered by oil income. “Now that they see the possibility of an attack is real, they are forced to buy time with negotiations to extend their ruling life.” He said the one thing the government will do is “keep its own people in the dark and share little information with them about negotiations.”
News and Views June 30 reported that Representatives Gary Ackerman (D-NY) and Mike Pence (R-IN) have issued a letter stating that a non-binding resolution they offered on Iran does not call for a military action against that country. The two congressmen, along with more than 200 other House members, are sponsoring a resolution which states that “preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability, through all appropriate economic, political, and diplomatic means, is vital to the national security interests of the United States and must be dealt with urgently.” The Ackerman-Pence resolution “demands that the President initiate an international effort to immediately and dramatically increase the economic, political, and diplomatic pressure on Iran to verifiably suspend its nuclear enrichment activities by prohibiting the export to Iran of all refined petroleum products; imposing stringent inspection requirements on all persons, vehicles, ships, planes, trains, and cargo entering or departing Iran; and prohibiting
the international movement of all Iranian officials not involved in negotiating the suspension of Iran’s
nuclear program.” Although the resolution includes a specific denial
that it authorizes use of American military force, it has led some to
believe it is tantamount to a declaration of war against Iran.
News and Views July 5 reported that the Iraqi government is gathering different political, religious and ethnic groups and encouraging them to sign the Helsinki agreement. Iraqi politicians agreed at a meeting held in Helsinki at the end of April to seek national reconciliation based on the models followed by South Africa and Northern Ireland. VOA/PNN’s reporter in Iraq, Ali Javanmardi said the Iraqi government’s spokesman, Ali Dabbagh, has denied the Islamic Republic of Iran’s “propaganda” that Iraq is being pressured by the US to sign a long-term security agreement. Meanwhile, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki has been seeking support for Iraq’s security and economy from countries in the region. his murder in March of this year. He was 82-years-old. In the 28 years Mr. Farhangi lived in Spain, he established the International College of Spain. Located in Moralej, it soon became one of the most sought-after private schools in the country. Started with almost no money and no students, ICS now has nearly 800 students, ranging in age from 3 to 18. He based the school on the International School of Tehran – Iranzamin – run by his relatives, and after his retirement a few years ago, ICS was taken over by his son Ramin Farhangi. Spanish police are still investigating Mr. Farhangi’s killing. He was stabbed to death on the Persian New Year’s Eve. His last words while being transported by ambulance to the hospital were, “Please don’t cry for me. Celebrate my life and if anyone cries during my [funeral] party, kick him out.”
News and Views June 30 reported on human rights abuses in Iran in an interview with Reza Moeini, an Iran specialist with the Paris-based Reporters without Borders. He said Iran is still the largest jail for journalists in the Middle East with six imprisoned at the current time. Mr. Moeini said Iranian authorities have banned 19 publications in the last seven months and that more than 20 journalists have been arrested for a variety of reasons, adding that they were held from a few hours to a few days. Reporters without Borders has been working on a report on the worsening human rights situation in Iran since President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad took office in August 2005. Mr. Moeini said they will be presenting it soon to the UN High Commissioner for Human rights.
News and Views July 1 reported on the wide attention sexual harassment at Iranian universities has been getting recently. Most offenders are high-level university officials. According to a female journalist in Tehran, Mahsa Amirabadi, the actual number of sexual harassment cases is much higher than what is officially reported. She said the reason for inaccuracy in the data comes from a fear of dishonoring one’s family and inadvertently getting charged for a “political offense.” Mohammad Hussein Aghasi, a lawyer in Tehran, said, “The victims of sexual abuse should raise their voices and get a lawyer to follow their cases....I have
Late Edition July 2 broadcast a documentary produced by VOA/PNN on the life of Manouchehr Farhangi, a Zoroastrian businessman/philanthropist from Iran who established a prestigious international school in Spain. The documentary contained more than a dozen interviews with family, friends and colleagues who talked about his personal and private life. Mr. Farhangi was a successful entrepreneur in Iran, having created a luxury vacation complex on the Caspian Sea, with over 350 villas and 70 apartments. He and his family also opened up a pharmaceutical company nearby which became one of the largest drug manufacturers in Iran. Within a year of the Islamic Revolution, however, the 54-year-old businessman
moved to Spain, where he lived in exile until his defended three
different famous female actresses who were subjected to sexual abuse.
Each won her case in court recently.”
News and Views July 1 reported that Iran’s parliament is discussing a new plan that would give the government and the judiciary – if approved – carte blanche to arrest, try and execute rapists, thieves, bloggers, blasphemers and producers of pornography. According to Florida-based sociologist Massoud Noghrekar, this law is just an excuse to suppress critics of the Islamic regime. He said, “The pressure on the Iranian opposition and broad-minded people is being intensified.” Iran’s parliament approved the on its first reading July 2. Reporters without Borders said the draft law would extend the death penalty to crimes committed online. The proposed law would, for example, apply the death penalty to bloggers and website editors who
“promote corruption, prostitution or apostasy.”
News and Views July 3 talked with journalist and blogger Arash Sigarchi about journalism in Iran today. Mr. Sigarchi said journalism has become very difficult over the past three years, and that journalists have tried to get around that by blogging. “Now, however, the government also is trying to limit blogging,” he said. “There are so many contradictions in Iran. The government has a low tolerance threshold. Look at the publication of books in Iran. Censorship has dramatically reduced the number of books published. Writers and poets – not just journalists –face a lot of challenges with this government.” Mr. Sigarchi noted there isn’t one, independent, free newspaper in Iran.
News and Views July 2 reported on a forum at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, DC where regional experts assessed US policy toward Iran. The panelists agreed that military action in Iran should be the last option in halting the Islamic Republic’s nuclear activities. Robin Wright, diplomatic correspondent with the Washington Post, said “War with Iran would be very dangerous and would expand to the region. The Islamic Republic of Iran also would retaliate against US troops.” Ms. Wright said she didn’t believe Iran would stop uranium enrichment, adding that the last word on whether or nor Iran suspends nuclear enrichment must come from Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and the Pasdaran – the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps – who are loyal to the Supreme Leader. Kenneth Pollack, Director of Research at the Brookings Institution’s Saban Center for Middle East Policy, said “What is important and what the US has not done is that we should talk directly with the Iranian people.” He said Iranians have a lot of different opinions about what the US has or hasn’t done to
help them. “Iran is definitely after atomic capabilities,” he said, which has rightfully caused international concern. Elizabeth Cheney, a former Deputy Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs at the State Department, asked “Can we live with an atomic Iran?”
News and Views and Late Edition July 3 reported on the 2008 US Open Table Tennis Championship live from Las Vegas. Iran sent a nine-member co-ed team to compete in the international field. The head of Iran’s Table Tennis Federation told VOA/PNN that the Iranian team accepted the invitation to play in the 380-person field because the US Open is prestigious and benefits the Iranian players. He said the US team did a wonderful job of hosting, and that the American players and coaches gave playing tips to their Iranian counterparts.
News and Views and Late Edition July 4 reported on the US Open Table Tennis Championship in Las Vegas, including profiles of all nine players on the Iranian team and their coaches. For the men, the team includes Afshin Noroozi, Mohammad Reza Akhlagh-Pasand, Mehran Ahadi, Hamed Ahmadifar, Zaman Mulla and head coach, Foad Kaseb. Women members of the Iranian team are Neda Shahsavari, Olena Titarenco, Mahjoobeh Omrani, Anna Fayazian and head coach Zeinab Eliasmand. Coach Kaseb said the Iran team was happy to have participated in the US Open, saying “Our players did well, even though the spectators weren’t expecting that.” Coach Eliasmand said her team members did a good job, “but they still have a long way to go.” She noted that the US and Iran would play each other Saturday (July 5). Program hosts pointed out that table tennis matches between the US and China led to better
relations between the two countries, and that such “Ping Pong Diplomacy” was possible for the US and Iran as well.
News and Views July 5 talked with Paris-based economist Fereidoun Khavand about the impact on Iran if sanctions prohibit the importation of refined petroleum. US House Resolution 362 calls on President Bush to begin international efforts to encourage nations to prohibit the export of refined petroleum products to Iran. Mr. Khavand said such sanctions would weigh heavily on the Iranian people. Even with current rationing in place, Iran still needs up to 2.5 million gallons per day to keep the country running. Mr. Khavand said most of the gasoline Iran imports come from India and the United Arab Emirates. Both nations, he added, enjoy close ties with the United States and would therefore likely adhere to sanctions. He also said he believed Iranian Oil Minister Gholam Hossein Nozari is wrong to dismiss such concerns. Asked why such an oil-rich nation would need to import enriched petroleum products in such large quantities, Mr. Khavand said the culprit was “bad economic policies” which would take a change in political and economic structures to correct.
News and Views July 2 interviewed Swadesh Rana, a Senior Fellow at the World Policy Institute on the possible impact of regional issues on the natural gas line from Iran to India and Pakistan. Ms. Rana was the first woman to hold the position of chief of the UN’s Conventional Arms Branch and held a number of other senior positions, from the UN Secretariat to UNPROFOR. She said a number of obstacles complicate this relationship. For starters, India and Pakistan are demanding Iran reduce its asking price. Ms. Rana said there is some domestic
political pressure in India to make an agreement with Iran final, but “Iran’s challenge to the world” with its nuclear program has created security concerns. She said India and Pakistan are both concerned about what would happen to the gas line if there were a military attack against Iran. They also believe Iran’s natural sources of energy might not last another 10-15 years.
News and Views July 3 broadcast a report on the Capitol Hill Conference Series, established in 1993 by the Washington, DC-based Middle East Policy Council. These half-day forums are directed at the Washington lawmakers and opinion leaders who affect US relations with the Middle East. The most recent forum assessed the possibility of war with Iran and what regional reactions would be to such a development. Wayne White, former Deputy Director of the Near East Office of the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research, said he believed Iran would retaliate by hitting US targets in Iraq and stepping up its support for anti-US elements in Iraq. He said the easiest way for a US attack on Iran would be the use of Iraqi air space, but added that also would be the quickest way to “jumpstart a major crisis between the two governments.” Anything done from Iraq would likely have strong “blow back from the Iraqi government and population regarding the issue of sovereignty.” He said the worst case scenario
would be where Iran might “throw all caution aside and send the Revolutionary Guards, hundreds of them, into Iraq…and attack US forces directly. Mr. White said, “What would be perhaps more dangerous for the entire Gulf and beyond, as well as Iraq, is that the Iranians might surprise everyone by not striking back immediately, by biding their time and looking for a better opportunity. And this doesn’t limit itself to Iraq or even the Gulf, but other places, including Lebanon.”
News and Views June 30 reported that the first US shipment of food aid arrived in North Korea this week, just as the United Nations begins to expand its food relief efforts throughout the country. The shipment of 37,000 tons of wheat arrived at the port of Nampo Sunday, the first installment of some 500,000 tons of food pledged by the United States over the next year. The United Nations food agency says the US shipments and a new agreement with the North Korean government to allow in more aid are expected to feed more than five million people. The spokesman
for the UN’s World Food Program, Paul Risley, says the agreement will
allow for more international aid to flow to people in all parts of
North Korea, even those that have previously been off-limits. Meanwhile, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice met with top Chinese officials and visited the areas in Sichuan province stricken by a devastating earthquake in May. Secretary Rice’s meetings with top Chinese officials also focused on issues of bilateral
interest including North Korea’s destruction on June 27 of its nuclear reactor cooling tower at the Yongbyon facility and Iran’s nuclear program.
News and Views July 2 reported that Christopher Hill, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, said the US will focus on verification of North Korea’s declaration of its nuclear programs in the upcoming six-party talks on North Korean nuclear issues. Mr. Hill, who is the chief nuclear negotiator for the United States, said, “We have to verify things that are in the declaration. You don’t just accept the declaration and say ‘looks goodto us’. I mean, you have to verify and you have to verify it through a lot of different means.” China, host of the six-
party talks since 2003, is to convene a fresh round of talks late next week. Australia’s Foreign Minister, Stephen Smith, said he wants to see the details of North Korea’s declaration, but agrees the step represents progress on the long-running issue.
News and Views July 1 reported that France will lead the European Union for the next six months. France took over the rotating presidency of the EU on Tuesday. French Prime Minister François Fillon and European Commission President José Manuel Barroso discussed the mandate of the EU for the rest of the year. France’s tenure comes at a time of uncertainty about the bloc’s future after Ireland rejected an EU reform treaty. All 27 EU members must ratify the treaty. French President Nicolas Sarkozy said, “The Irish ‘no’ is making our task more difficult.The first priority for us is to pinpoint the problem with the Irish voters and to continue to allow other countries to be ratified.” Mr. Sarkozy will travel to Ireland before the end of July “to try and understand what happened” and “what can we do to remedy the situation.”
To celebrate the Fourth of July, Late Edition broadcast a report on a naturalization ceremony at the Newseum in Washington, DC. This is the ninth year that the Newseum has hosted such a ceremony, but the first to take place at the Newseum’s new facility near the US Capitol. VOA/PNN was there as 50 people from 26 countries took the oath of allegiance, and spoke to some of the participants about the significance of Independence Day and their new life as American citizens. Enrique Rueda, from Spain, has lived in the US for 32 years. “I think this is a great place,” he said. “I value the commitment to liberty, and being a citizen of a country that protects individual liberty is probably the most important thing. But also voting this year is something I’d very much like to be a part of and this is one reason why I was keen to do it now and not years ago.”
Late Edition July 3 talked with the curator of the Smithsonian Institution’s American History Museum, Larry Bird, about the role of music in political campaigns. Theme songs have helped define candidates and their presidential campaigns in the United States for years. Mr. Bird said music and politics in America go hand in hand back to the early political campaigns of the 1800’s. “The more candidates can tap into popular culture, the better shape they’re in when it comes to things that have nothing to do with popular culture – but everything to do with politics. The more you can make your campaign in tune with what’s on people’s minds, the better off you are,” he said. Mr. Bird said what began with organized marches and songbooks two centuries ago have evolved into today’s popular tunes and You Tube hits.
Late Edition July 3 gave viewers a tour of the Guggenheim Museum’s career retrospective exhibition of 96-year-old artist Louise Bourgeois. The museum’s chief curator, Nancy Spector, told VOA/PNN that “New York is her home. Louise responded to New York very strongly when she first moved here. And her sculptures from the 1940s, the verticality of them, she actually made
[them] on the rooftop of her apartment building; and, spoke very
specifically to the fact that she was responding to the skyscrapers,
which is quite a different urban environment from the landscape in Paris.” Ms. Bourgeois continues to dazzle the world with her enigmatic mixed media creations. She emerged at a time dominated by male artists, when to be taken seriously, women artists felt obligated to work like men. But Ms. Bourgeois' art touches women by topics and in materials, even in the colors she chose. Ms. Spector said, “Very consciously, from the beginning, she embraced her femaleness as an artist, and never tried to compete with the men.” The
Guggenheim show is an expanded version of the Bourgeois retrospectives
at London's Tate Gallery and Paris’s George Pompidou Center. “Because
our space is much larger than they had available at the Tate and the
Pompidou Center,” Ms. Spector said, “we had occasion to add a number of
later ‘Cells’ and marble pieces, and I really wanted to represent how
Louise works in scale, and her ability to work so masterfully with
Late Edition July 2 interviewed Nigel Redden, Director of the Lincoln Center’s annual summer festival, which is taking place amid a $1.2 billion renovation. Lincoln Center is the world’s leading performing arts center. Festival Lincoln Center mounts its annual summer festival, amid $1.2 billion renovation. It is located on 16.3 acres [6.5 hectares] in New York City, and is considered the world’s leading performing arts center. Made up of 12 arts organizations, Lincoln Center includes the Juilliard School, Metropolitan Opera, New York City Ballet and New York Philharmonic. This summer’s festival opens with a multi-million dollar production of a contemporary German opera,Die Soldaten. Mr. Redden said, “Die Soldaten is kind of a lament, or anguished cry, about what war does – not necessarily only to the soldiers, but to those who are swept up. It is about an attitude that almost inevitably leads you to think that human life is expendable, that human life is not terribly important.” Mr. Redden said the artist the festival is celebrating is Samuel Beckett. “This year, we are doing pieces that were not necessarily written for the stage,” he said, with actors Ralph Fiennes and Liam Neeson appearing in the Beckett plays. Other performances scheduled for the festival are Alan Cumming starring in Bacchae, the Scottish National Theater’s production Euripides's ancient Greek tragedy, and William Forsythe brings his ballet/dance theater Impressing the Czar, with the Royal Ballet of Flanders.
Panelists on NewsTalk this week discussed President Ahmadinejad’s friends continuing to talk of a plan by foreign governments to assassinate the President, this while Iran’s economic woes worsen; the impact of Iran’s poor management on inflation, which is now running at 49%; how closure of the Strait of Hormuz by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps would cost Iran dearly as the country’s oil exports pass through Hormuz and how such a closure would be economic suicide; Seymour Hersh’s article in The New Yorker and how it would have more credibility if more Congressional sources would publicly corroborate its charges – especially in an election year when people feel free to speak clearly; how Iran’s leadership is saying it is ready for talks with the P5+1 and a review of their incentives package in a bid to run the clock out on the Bush administration, hoping the new US administration will be more friendly; the tensions between Jordan and Iran; the conciliatory tone Ali Akbar Velayati, foreign policy to Iran’s Supreme Leader, has adopted toward the West; and the Revolutionary Guards appointing radicals to positions of leadership, suggesting they would be the ones in control in the event of a potential war. PNN political analyst Mohsen Sazegara said, “The Revolutionary Guard is mobilizing itself for a possible attack on Iran, and the potential closing of the Hormuz Strait. Yet, this is nothing short of committing Iranians to further economic and financial despair.”
Today’s Woman July 5 debated the role of the hejab in developing and western countries with women’s rights activist Mahin Roosta lecturer Sharareh Shahrokhi. VOA/PNN’s Hamideh Aramideh hosted the show live from the University of California at Berkeley where the 19th International Annual Conference of the Iranian Women’s Studies Foundation was taking place. Mr. Shahrokhi was the feature speaker at the conference, with an address titled The Right to Choose “What-to-Wear”: An Essential Need for an Iranian Woman or a Superfluous One? Ms. Shahrokhi said developing nations cannot use the classical, western model of modernization, but must
create their own model which allows for local customs. She said wearing
of the hejab is a question of freedom of choice and not a politicalissue. She urged her colleague to keep politics out of the discussion. But Ms. Roosta, who helped organize the conference, disagreed, saying recent rulings in European countries had turned wearing of the hejab into a political issue. “One cannot ignore politics,” she said. Both women pointed out that as societies become more sophisticated, perception of the hejab changes. When Ms. Shahrokhi said wearing the hejab should be neither banned nor required in free societies, Ms. Roosta said it should be banned for children under the age of 18. The conference welcomed diverse opinions on any topic, but government employees were not allowed to speak.
This week’s History Channel segments included a three-part series on the Mayflower, bringing to life the true story of the pilgrims. In 1620, in England, a small group of Puritans tormented by religious persecution were exiled, and embarked on a difficult journey to a hostile land in the hope of a new and better life. Many died en route, others died of starvation and exposure in that first winter. Only the pity and help of the native inhabitants, the famous Squanto and Chief Samoset of legend, pulled them through their terrible ordeal. The week’s fourth segment profiled author Salman Rushdie – the world’s most-wanted man for nearly 10 years after Iran placed a fatwa on him, hargin he slandered Islam and its prophet, Mohammed, in his book The Satanic Verses. Rushdie spent years in hiding, until Iran renounced the religious edict in 1998. He continues to write and now lives in New York City. The fifth segment was on Alaska, a still dangerous territory full of the most inhospitable weather and extreme terrain earth. Even today, Alaska boasts four of the top ten most dangerous jobs in the country: soldiers, Coast Guard crewmen, bush pilots and truckers.
This week’s “On the Record” – Persian News Network’s once-a-week program featuring executive editor Kambiz Mahmoudi as ombudsman – said one viewer e-mail asked this question: “Though I do not agree, the Iranian government and local media portray the US as an aggressor and colonialist. How can the US correct this image?” Mr. Mahmoudi cited the appearance on Roundtable with You earlier in the week when James Glassman, Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, said his office tries to present truth and communicate with the people of the region through the media -- media such as PNN Television and the Internet. Does this mean that PNN will be at the service of the State Department? Definitely not, said Mr. Mahmoudi. “Mr. Glassman, as the former Chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which oversees VOA, is aware of our responsibilities. They know the VOA Charter and our mission. In Iran and a few other countries, in which democratic values and practices are ignored, media is run by the state. Government officials in these countries know that their citizens do not believe the information presented by their own government. Because of this, these governments try to convince their citizens that VOA and other media in democratic countries are also controlled by governments. Their purpose is to discredit our message. This has not been a very successful strategy. Our audience understands our mission very well. They understand our impartiality and balanced broadcasts. It is not difficult to present the United States, her policies and her people as they are. There is no need to hide anything from our audience. This is our policy. As Mr. Glassman mentioned in his interview, American public diplomacy will use many channels of communication, including PNN, to present American policies. We at PNN adhere to VOA’s mission. As far as we are concerned HONESTY IS THE BEST POLICY. Let our audience to be the judge.
Week ten of Late Edition’s Book Club highlighted One Minute to Midnight by Washington Post reporter Michael Dobbs. The book focuses on the activities of the American, Soviet and Cuban militaries during the tense days of October 1962 and the Cuban missile crisis. Mr. Dobbs writes of covert CIA operations in the swamps of Cuba as agents tried to carry out a previously authorized plan to sabotage a copper mine. He also follows the flight of a U-2 plane that wandered hundreds of kilometers into Soviet airspace but somehow escaped without triggering a
reaction. Mr. Dobbs mentions that Soviet missile unit commanders in
Cuba were prepared to fire missiles atthe United States on their own
authority if they felt threatened – whether or not they had instructions from Moscow. The author said he believes that both leaders – President John F. Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev – wanted to solve the crisis peacefully, but that all these secret activities and lack of honesty in their communications prevented them from reaching an agreement earlier.
PNN’s question of the week was “Will international pressure and EU sanctions compel Iran to change its position on the country’s nuclear program?” Out of 9,062 respondents, 37% said yes, 61% said no, while 2% did not have an opinion,
The Persian News Network’s television programming complements its radio broadcasts. VOA has the largest combined radio and television audience of all international broadcasters in Iran, with one in four Iranian households tuning into a VOA show at least once a week. Programs also are streamed on www.voapnn.com.
PNN’s 7-hour program block opens with Today in Washington, a brief look at the latest news developments in Washington, as well as the content of PNN’s upcoming programs. Then we present cultural programming translated into Farsi from A&E Television Network’s The History Channel. We intersperse 30-minutes of news breaks throughout our original programming, which includes the following shows: Today’s Woman, PNN’s newest program, had its debut September 27, 2007. The one-hour program features influential women from around the world discussing a full spectrum of topics, including social, medical, human rights, legal, sports and business. News
and Views, PNN’s existing flagship, is now 2 hours in length, and features live news coverage of the latest headlines from Washington, Iran and across the globe. Roundtable with You is a talk show with expert guests, featuring discussion of current events, politics, popular culture and global health. Viewers and listeners from Iran and around the world participate in the show via phone calls and e-mails.
Late Edition begins with a wrap up of the day’s news and a close look at the day’s top story. Targeted to a younger demographic, the show also features segments on health, technology, sports, entertainment and culture. NewsTalk is a new journalists’ roundtable discussion program that features a news update followed by an examination of the day’s top stories and an in-depth look at issues relating to Iran
PNN INSIDER – VIEWER PERSPECTIVES
From a viewer in Iran: “Please accept my thanks and gratitude for your meaningful programs. After watching NewsTalk [July 1], when Mr. Mahmoudi asked former prisoner Ahmad Batebi about his feelings now that he is free, I was saddened – sad for the Iranian nation, which has been held hostage by a corrupt, anti-human and despotic regime. Now, we implore of Mr. Batebi to explain, in explicit detail, all the hardships he had to endure during his imprisonment and to name those responsible for his torture and abuse, so that the Iranian nation knows who’s
From a viewer in Tehran: “You have awesome TV programs, especially News and Views and Roundtable. I want to be your consumer. I want to get a lot of information about the USA. Good luck.”
From a viewer in Iran: “VOA broadcasts to Iran have been severely jammed the past couple of days. Watching your programs is the only way for us to get news and information. I hope you’re able to resolve this problem by strengthening your signals to Iran.”
From Ramin Farhangi in Madrid, whose late father was profiled July 2 on Late Edition: “Your show was done very well. Congratulations. And many thanks for dedicating it to my mother. Finishing the show with her was a great touch. You had me crying at 1 in the morning like a baby.”
From a viewer in Iran: “I watched your program about Manouchehr Farhangi yesterday. It was amazing. I didn’t know him, but I feel proud of us as Iranians to have such a good man like Mr. Farhangi. I want to know if there is any e-mail address I can use to reach his son or wife? I would like to send them a note. Thanks.”
From a viewer in Iran: “On 16 June 2008, a 17-year-old boy (Mohammad Hassanzadeh) was executed in Iran. There are still over 70 other young people awaiting execution in Iran. Mohammad Fedai, Behnud Shojaei, Said Jazi and Behnam Zare are four of the adolescents on death row. The mullahs kill our children. They do whatever they want. I have sent many e-mails to many international organizations, and none reacted with the lone exception of Amnesty International. I want to be more active in human rights advocacy. How can I go about doing this? I saw your interview with Mr. Batebi. His liberty is very, very good news. I cried from happiness to see him free. I hope the other prisoners in Iran obtain their liberty very soon. With much appreciation for all you do for freedom in Iran.”
From viewer unhappy with VOA/PNN’s program on 48 Hours about a book on the history of Shiraz with former US diplomat John Limbert: “Rest assured that in tomorrow's free Iran, all of you at VOA’s Persian Service will be put on trial on charges of betraying the Iranian nation. You [anchor Ali Bijan] Farhoodi, go get a nose job!”
From a viewer in Tehran: “We are extremely grateful for your insightful programs. They carefully examine the significant issues of the day and clarify the misinformation that the government of Iran injects into our daily lives. What you do is actually separate facts from fiction, and that allows us to clearly decipher right from wrong. Your reporting on Ayatollah Kazemeini Boroujerdi is great example of this. And it bolsters the fact that Voice of America is not against the clergy in Iran; it is only concerned about human rights and the advocacy of those human rights. What you do will one day lead the government of Iran to realize that adhering to human rights is in its best interests – that, or authorities should leave the governing to others who can do better.”
From a viewer in Rasht: “Today [July 3] Radio Iran on the 2 pm news referred to coverage on Fox News, saying ‘Fox News, which is connected to the Pentagon (......)’ said it wanted to inform the public that no news agency in America that is owned or connected to the government broadcasts to Americans. It said VOA targets undemocratically governed people. (You might correct me if VOA also reports to people besides the undemocratically governed ones.)”
From a viewer in Iran: ‘Thank you for your interesting program [Today’s Woman]. If you produced more programs on sensitive women’s issues from a modern angle, instead of issues that are not relevant to Iranian women, it would help Iranian women become more aware and enlightened. Thank you,”
From an Iranian viewer: “How can we get involved in the One Million Signatures Campaign? Are there any websites or international organizations that we can contact to show our support for the activists who are prisoners? Please help us to do this little thing for these dear prisoners.”
From a viewer in Tehran: I teach filmmaking. My students and I have filmed prostitutes and poverty in Tehran and other cities in Iran. Would you please tell us how we could send these films abroad? Thank you.”
From a male viewer in Iran: “Today’s Woman is a creative and innovative program. However, you should approach women’s issues in a more casual manner. Many of your viewers are housewives in Iran and they are disenfranchised. It is very important that you discuss issues that are related to these women’s needs and rights.”
From a viewer in Iran: “Today’s Woman is the only program at Voice of America that is a stronghold for our women in Iran.”
From a viewer outside Iran: “I am a pharmacist originally from Tehran, and would like to help my countrymen, but I don’t know how. Would you please help me?”
From a viewer in Iran: “Would you please produce a program about the wives of Iran’s leaders – Ahmadinejad, Khamenei, Rafsanjani. We just want to know who they are and how they live.”
From a male viewer in Iran: “Thank you for Today’s Woman. Here in Iran they do not pay attention to women’s news. The little they do pay attention to is either censured or unreliable. For instance, when they report on women’s sports, instead of showing the actual game – like volleyball – they show flowers and the logo of the program. Women might be taboo in Iran, but it is women who will bring change to this country in the future.”
From a viewer in Iran: “I am a member of the One Million Signatures Campaign and I want to share a story with you. We were recently in Mashad, a city where the people are very religious,
conservative and traditional. On March 8, we were distributing flyers
and brochures on the One Million Signature Campaign, and we met an old
woman who was illiterate. We were really curious when she said she already knew of the Campaign. She said she watches Today’s Woman daily and learned about the Campaign from your program. This was so encouraging to
us. You have to know that many people from many different backgrounds are VOA/PNN viewers in Iran. Your great efforts at Today’s Woman have made many people aware of One Million Signatures Campaign. I, too, was introduced to this Campaign through your program. VOA – you are doing a good job.”
From a viewer in Tehran: “Please send me a proxy (filtershekan). I haven’t been able to receive any VOA programs in any language in Tehran. Is there a problem with your broadcasts?”
From a viewer in Sweden: “Thank you for Roundtable’s program July 2 about the Persian language. Please make more programs about the status and importance of Persian, especially since it is threatened and under attack by the Islamic regime and other enemies of Iran. By the way, many people wrongly call the Persian language Farsi. Please correct them and tell everyone that the correct name for the language is PERSIAN.”