President Bush Voices Support For Free Press, Democracy in Iran on Radio Farda, New Persian-Language Station

Washington, D.C., Dec. 20, 2002 – President Bush, in an exclusive statement on Radio Farda, today spoke directly to Iranians, telling them they “deserve a free press to express themselves and to help build an open, democratic, and free society.”

Bush, in a taped address aired on the new Persian-language station, said the people of Iran “want to build a freer and more prosperous country for their children, and live in a country that is a full partner in the international community.”

Bush said Radio Farda (www.radiofarda.com), launched on Thursday, is an attempt to bring more news, information and music to people in Iran who are cut off from a free flow of information. Radio Farda replaces Radio Azadi, or “Radio Freedom.”

“For many years, the United States has helped bring news and cultural broadcasts for a few hours every day to the Iranian people via Radio Freedom,” the President said. “Yet, the Iranian people tell us that more broadcasting is needed, because the unelected few who control the Iranian government continue to place severe restrictions on access to uncensored information.”

He added: “So we are now making our broadcasts available to more Iranians, by airing news, music and cultural programs 24 hours a day. And we are pleased to continue Voice of America and VOA-TV services to Iran.”

Discussing the situation in Iran, Bush said, “Iranians also deserve a free press to express themselves and to build an open, democratic, and free society.

“My thoughts and prayers are with the Iranian people, particularly the families of the many Iranians who are imprisoned today for daring to express their hopes and dreams for a better future. We continue to stand with the people of Iran in your quest for freedom, prosperity, honest and effective government, judicial due process, and the rule of law. And we continue to call on the government of Iran to respect the will of its people and be accountable to them.”

Bush concluded: “As I have said before, if Iran respects international obligations and embraces a future defined by greater freedom and greater tolerance, it will have no better friend than the United States of America.

“Best wishes for a bright future, filled with knowledge, information, and freedom.”

In its first 48 hours, Radio Farda has received numerous positive responses from listeners inside Iran who have sent emails. “Fantastic. The best present to the Iranian people. I am just phoning my friends and spreading around the good news,” wrote one listener.

Another 19-year-old listener said, “Establishing such a great radio has been my demand from the U.S. government.”

Radio Farda, which means “Radio Tomorrow” in Persian, is a joint effort of two entities of the Broadcasting Broad of Governors (BBG): Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) and VOA. Radio Farda will have a total of 310 minutes of original news and substantive content daily compared with RFE/RL’s Radio Azadi, which broadcast some 180 minutes a day of news.

Radio Farda will be broadcast 24 hours on medium wave (AM 1593 and AM 1539), digital audio satellite and on the Internet and 21 hours a day on shortwave. The station’s target audience is young people under 30 in Iran, who comprise 70 percent of the population.

Radio Farda will complement VOA’s existing Persian radio service on shortwave, which has a strong following in Iran. VOA also broadcasts two popular television shows to Iran: “Next Chapter,” a weekly, hour-long, youth-oriented show, and “Roundtable with You,” a news and public affairs show. Iranians can also access VOA on the Internet (www.voanews.com).

The BBG is an independent federal agency which supervises all U.S. government-supported non-military international broadcasting, including the Voice of Ame

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