Friday, September 9, 2011
Radio Zamaneh, an initiative of Free Press Unlimited, started 5 years ago with radio broadcasting and webnews. In September, Radio Zamaneh will celebrate its first jubilee.

Radio Zamaneh the Persian language, progressive, unbiased, non-discriminatory source of news, analysis and opinion announces the fifth anniversary of its launch.

With Iran’s domestic media under strict governmental control, almost all foreign-based broadcasting sources are completely censored in the country. Throughout the social upheavals of the past ten years, many human rights activist, artists, journalists and bloggers have been imprisoned or forced to flee into exile. Those who are still in Iran practice self-censorship out of fear of prosecution. It is under these circumstances that a group of independent Iranian journalists launched a platform to connect those silenced voices that fight for civil liberties, human rights and freedom of press.

Since 2006, Radio Zamaneh has successfully been the media outlet for many Persian speaking writers, political dissidents, minority groups, and prominent personalities in the diaspora and Iran.

Funded entirely through independent contributions and established as a non-profit organization under Dutch law, Radio Zamaneh launched its broadcast on 4 August 2006, commemorating the date on which Iran’s Constitutional Revolution overthrew Iran’s despotic Qajar dynasty and formed the first democratic parliament, some 100 years ago.

Radio Zamaneh with a vast network of writers and producers from a spectrum of specializations, has become a dependable source of knowledge and information on world affairs, Iranian domestic politics, Middle Eastern and Central Asian regional headlines, the Persian speaking diaspora in Europe and North America, ethnic, religious and sexual minorities, human rights concerns, issues of gender and sexuality, immigration, culture and literature.

The radio station has been a bridge connecting the Persian speakers living in diaspora. Zamaneh has been closely involved with the Persian-Dutch community, playing an integral role in reflecting the lived experiences of immigration, multiculturalism and diversity. This has greatly helped Radio Zamaneh in bravely covering many taboo subjects within Iranian society including programs about the situation of religious, sexual and ethnic minorities.

In the past five years Radio Zamaneh has developed meaningful relations with its audience, building an immense network of trust among Zamaneh staff and those who continually connect with us through our email list, social networking sites and comment section. The nature of this relationship has made Radio Zamaneh very popular among those Persian speakers who seek trustworthy content on Iran’s national and transnational political, social and cultural spheres. This valued web of loyal listenership and viewership, frequently engage with Zamaneh by sending us their inputs.

Additionally, many prominent analysts, human rights activists, lawyers, artists and journalists consider the station to be a trustworthy source not only as a media outlet but also as a medium of knowledge production that they can actively contribute to. It was only out of the courtesy of this network of citizen reporters that during the violent 2009 pro-democracy demonstrations in Iran, Radio Zameneh with a minimal number of staff in Iran played a key role in spreading the news.

The response of the Islamic Republic of Iran was reactionary: they blocked the access of the Iranian population to this independent and unbiased information, Iran’s ambassador in the Hague publicly accused the Dutch government of interfering in Iran’s domestic affairs, leaders of the Islamic Republic’s Revolutionary Guards repeatedly issued statements against Zamaneh accusing us of being an agent of Western intelligence services, and Radio Zamaneh’s popular website was attacked by the “Iranian Cyber Army” in January 2010.

These examples of the Iranian government´s continual attempts of assaulting freedom of speech and press, only strengthened our conviction to continue our work towards upholding our aspiration and stand firm with our Radio’s democratic responsibilities.

On the occasion of our 5th anniversary, Radio Zamaneh is still working on new ideas and projects such as distance learning programmes. Our online journalism courses in which up to 2000 people have participated so far is only one aspect of this broader e.learning project.

Zamaneh is also quite unique compared to other Persian-language media outlets for the attention it pays to the participatory processes of facilitating, training and educating citizen reporters. We welcome open discussions in all areas in our comment sections and we plan to launch and extensive section dedicated solely to publication and broadcasting of materials produced by our audience. The vast volume of articles and interviews on the situation of religious, sexual and ethnic minorities in Iran that are available through Radio Zamaneh, are produced by this participatory method of engaging citizen reporters and contributors.

Radio Zamaneh is humbled by the support we have received in the past five years from the network of journalists who are working with us around the globe, our Amsterdam staff, our listeners, readers and fans. We invite all of you to join our celebration by getting involved in our campaign of writing about Zamaneh and sharing your thoughts, memories, and critical insights that will shape the future of your Zamaneh.

Originally published on Radio Zamaneh website