Obama, Please Stop Political Discrimination at VOA
آقای اوباما، لطفاً تبعیض سیاسی را در صدای آمریکا متوقف کنید
Dear President Obama,
Two years ago my contract with VOA was not renewed after 8 years of working there and I wrote in detail about it (1). Later VOA discontinued services of the man who was the culprit; but political discrimination against independent opposition journalists like myself continues at VOA (2). At the time, I wrote about the attacks of some neocons on independent journalists of VOA Persian, in response to an anti-VOA opinion article of Wall Street Journal (3). It is noteworthy that during the last two years, the same neoconservatives, no longer publish any critical articles about VOA. I gather they are happy with the decisions of VOA executives in hiring new managers at VOA Persian. A few of these new managers had received funds from lobby groups before being hired by VOA (4). Their old Persian publications have also stopped writing critical articles about VOA since two years ago. I do not support neocon groups or pro-Islamic Republic lobby groups, but have no problem with the views of either one to be presented in the press. I also strongly support peaceful relations between Iran and Israel (5). The issue is with one-sidedness in the management of VOA Persian at the present.
As long as VOA Persian was following the VOA Charter, I supported its direction when representing all groups including the neocons (6). My own views about the neoconservative groups are clear (7) and I have no problem with neocons' presence in VOA management, but they have no right to eliminate other views. And one cannot just add a few Islamic reformist journalists to the mix and imagine the the full political spectrum of Iran is represented. They call whoever challenges them as Islamic Republic agent. I dare them to prove such claims about those journalists whom they have called Islamic Republic agents in the past, or apologize. Iran's independent journalists are known in the Iranian political circles and neoconservatives are not the authority on the matter. Anybody who is not a sympathizer of neocon groups is an Islamic Republic agent in their eyes (8). I hope they can see people for what people really are. I am a believer in a fair and balanced approach which is the basis of VOA Charter. Not only I criticize neoconservatives but I also strongly criticize those in Iranian opposition who one-sidedly oppose Israel (9).
I joined VOA because its Charter was not like the radio programs of former Eastern Bloc to make an agent of Soviet Union out of those Iranians who just wanted to do honest work of journalism (10). Let me mention an example from Iran which is similar to my situation. In the last six months, Iranian human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh has been doing a sit-in at the Iranian Bar Association in Tehran protesting a ban curtailing her work because of thinking differently from the authorities who run Iranian Bar Association (11). Shouldn't I living in the U.S. also expect the same rights when thinking differently from VOA management while I followed VOA Charter and they violated it by political discrimination. Shouldn't VOA management answer for what they have done to me and my family all these years. Although I worked more than full time for eight years, they kept me a contractor and did not allow me to have an FTE position to have job protection, my family and I did not have health insurance during all those years of work and I do not have unemployment benefits now that they have stopped renewing my contract. VOA management has ruined my life when I was much more qualified than most people they offered FTE positions all these years. Who will answer to all this discrimination(12)? Shouldn't they compensate me for the damages my family and I have incurred in the last 10 years because of their political discrimination against me?
Mr. President, please do not allow some people to turn United States into a place where security forces decide about who can be a journalist and what the journalists can publish. Isn't this what differentiates a democracy from a totalitarian state. In totalitarian states, journalists are afraid of frame ups when they think about their job, family, reputation and well-being and avoid to speak out the truth. We live in a democracy. Discussing political discrimination is not talking of personal matters of authorities. All I am asking for is to follow VOA Charter in hiring, firing and broadcasting. Is asking VOA management to be fair and balanced and stop political discrimination, too much to ask from the news agency of the United States of America?
Hoping for a democratic and secular futurist republic in Iran,
Sam Ghandchi, Editor/Publisher
April 21, 2015
1. Eight Years of Working at VOA+
2. Mr. Obama Please Tear Down this Wall
3. Is VOA pro Islamic Republic?
4. Transparency: Iran News and Lobby Groups in Washington,
5. Danger of IRI-Israel War and What Iranian Opposition Needs to Do
6. VOA: Rumors and Realities
7. Neocons, Daniel Bell and Iran
8. Is VOA pro Islamic Republic?
9. A Critique of Iranian Opposition about War
10. Doing Honest Journalism about Iran in Washington
11. Work Right, Dissent Right
12. Eight Years of Working at VOA+