Monday, December 22, 2014


Communications / Off Mic

Iran Authorities Threaten Radio Farda Listeners Via SMS

The government in Tehran is doing its best to stamp out free thinking through text messages.
The government in Tehran is doing its best to stamp out free thinking through text messages.
“Dear citizen, based on information we received you have fallen under the influence of the anti-security propaganda of media connected with foreign powers.

"If you establish contact with media based outside the country, you will be guilty of violating the following articles of Islamic law (...) and we will deal with you according to the law.”

Listening to Radio Farda in Iran is no idle pastime.

The audience for Farda, RFE/RL’s Persian-language service, has to contend with a host of threats from the regime in Tehran, which looks to punish its own citizens for listening to free media. The government’s extreme censorship is nothing new in the annals of authoritarianism. But Tehran is upping the ante by making its warnings high-tech and personal.

The government’s latest way of cheerfully informing Farda’s most active listeners of the risk they’re running is through SMS (text) messages directly to their mobile phones. The messages carry the menacing threats shown above.

Remarkably, despite the intimidation, Farda’s listeners continue to send hundreds of SMS messages daily from all over Iran, risking imprisonment in Iran’s notorious jails, where thousands of political prisoners serve terms and fear secret executions.

These SMS messages are tracked by the Iranian government on a daily basis, according to Mardo Soghom, a senior media market research analyst for RFE/RL.

“We have noted that when the SMS numbers drop to 30-40 a day, which was the case nine months ago, it was due to these text message warnings sent by the Iranian government,” says Soghom.

Constant jamming by the Iranian authorities has not succeeded in discouraging Radio Farda’s journalists, who are officially banned from the airwaves in Iran but continue to broadcast news, features and music in Persian, 24 hours a day.

‘Radio Is Only Radio Farda’

The work of Radio Farda broadcasters is encouraged and validated by the messages sent in from listeners, who often pass along the slogan, “Radio is only Radio Farda.”

Reza, a listener from Kermanshah, recently sent a text message to Radio Farda’s SMS service that read,  “All of us are listening to Radio Farda, with the hope for a better Iran tomorrow.” The message played on Radio Farda’s name, which means “Radio Tomorrow” in Persian.

Others write to talk of the unmet promises of Iran’s revolutionary regime. “When the revolution happened, they were blaming the Shah for selling the oil cheaply,” one listener says. “Now, they are not only selling oil and gas, they are even exporting the ‘soil’ of this country and they call it non-oil sector exports.”

For Radio Farda’s journalists, the most rewarding messages are usually the simplest. Writes a listener from Ghazvin, “Long live the one who established Radio Farda.”

To find out more about what is happening inside Iran, read the news in Farsi (or English) on Radio Farda’s website and visit Persian Letters, a blog maintained by RFE/RL senior correspondent Golnaz Esfandiari. Her work is dedicated to uncovering under-reported stories and delivering insight and analysis from bloggers, feminists, clerics and even Basij members inside Iran.

-- Deana Kjuka
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Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Orhan Ertugruloglu from: the Netherlands
November 28, 2011 14:55
I worked in Iran from 1988-90 and from 2006-2009. I was regularly tuned to your Radio Farda during my 2 terms of office in Iran. I would like to bring to your attention one book quiet recently published in Turkey. Safak Pavey’s book Nereye gidersem gökyüzü benimdir ‘Wherever I go the sky is mine’ is published quiet recently in Istanbul. The book is a compilation of Pavey’s observations during her 2 years stay in Iran.

She was harassed by security officers at Bushehr Airport in south western Iran. One of her prosthetic leg fitted in Germany was taken. They took away her passport and said they wouldn’t let her on the flight unless she took off her prosthetic leg. She understood security measures but it was nonetheless very difficult for her.

She particularly emphasized the problems of youth and Iranian women in her book. One chapter is devoted to the story of an Iranian girl who wins a scholarship but can’t go abroad to follow her study because she is not married. The conclusion I got from the book can be summarized as follows: The rights and freedoms are gained at a huge human cost and could be lost easily if they are not safeguarded propperly. To regain them might take many long years.

I advise everyone to read that book.
(Ms.Pavey is the MP from opposition at the Turkish Parliament)
In Response

by: Alidad from: Madrid
December 03, 2011 17:46
Quite so (not quiet): rights and freedoms are fragile. The Shah gave Iranians certain rights and freedoms - mostly of a social and economic nature - and they threw those away and won nothing in 1979, beguiled by the false promises of deceitful reactionaries or communists. And now look at the Egyptians, voting for their mullahs. My conclusion for now: male-dominated societies are breeding grounds for social and political fascism.

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