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Voice for Liberty
The US Foundation for Liberty is seeking funding for its Voice for Liberty project to help expand the programs and the outreach of Simay-e Azadi (Visage of Liberty) satellite television channel.
For the past three decades, the Iranian people have endured unspeakable torture, repression, imprisonment, and economic calamity under the current theocratic regime. Through systematic censorship of the media inside Iran, the regime has tried to deny millions of Iranians with access to uncensored and unfiltered news about the outside world. In his report to the United Nations General Assembly in October 2016, the UN Secretary General expressed particular concern about “the persistent pattern of arbitrary arrests and convictions of journalists and online activists. As of March 2016, at least 47 journalists and Internet users were reportedly imprisoned in the Islamic Republic of Iran.”
This situation has created a serious need of the Iranian people to access outside news sources and outlets. Simay-e Azadi was established to respond to this need and has served as a trusted news outlet both inside and outside the country. It has become a reliable, popular, and credible source, giving voice to the aspirations and dreams of Iranians everywhere.
Its operations rely on the help of hundreds of volunteers around the world, mostly intellectuals, writers, artists, journalists, and activists trying to act as a bridge and conduit for awareness. Simay-e Azadi is funded by donations from its viewers and other interested individuals only and not advertising. The principal funding vehicle is telethons held three to four times per year, which invite viewers to call and make contributions to enable the Channel to continue its be raised in order to expand programing, broadcast outlets and viewership within the country.
The extensive number of news reports and programs from inside Iran and the exiled community reflects this Channel’s rapid pace of growth and popularity. Thousands of reports and letters regularly received by Simay-e Azadi show that Iranians have embraced it as their most reliable source for information. This campaign is an effort to continue to build on the previous successes of Simay-e Azadi and inform the Iranian people about important developments across the globe which affect their daily lives.
Simay-e Azadi’s goals are:
- Fund educational broadcasts internationally to reach the Iranian public;
- Broadcast documentary films marking events of worldwide magnitude, which are otherwise unavailable to the Iranian public, such as International Holocaust Remembrance Day;
- Facilitate programs to promote democracy, human rights, and a secular non-nuclear republic in Iran;
- Help connect those Iranians who are striving to achieve a democratic, secular, non-nuclear republic in Iran;
- Help Iranian political refugees keep informed;
- Provide coverage to educational events, i.e., symposiums, conferences, and briefings;
- Organize broadcasts to educate the public in the United States;
- Prepare documentaries on research studies, and publish reports highlighting the dangers posed by the Iranian regime, and the opportunities existing within the Iranian society.
Considering the importance of Simay-e Azadi in keeping the Iranian people informed of events outside Iran and, at the same time, in providing otherwise unavailable news and reports about developments inside Iran to the outside world, one of the major programs of the U.S. Foundation for Liberty is called “Voice of Liberty.” By making Simay-e Azadi one of its major campaigns, USFL seeks to help this independent satellite channel sustain itself, improve the quality and the diversity of its programing and expand its reach to every citizen in Iran.
Simay-e Azadi (Iranntv.com) was founded in 1996 by exiled Iranian members of parliament, scholars, and intellectuals advocating the establishment of a democratic, secular and non-nuclear republic in Iran. Despite the risks to Iranians who receive Simay-e Azadi inside Iran, 10 million Iranians watch its programs inside the country and about four million expatriates watch it outside the country. More than 100,000 visit its webpage and some of its Youtube clips have been viewed by as many as 1.5 million viewers. In recent years, Simay-e Azadi has launched a mobile App, and can be watched on facebook, Telegram and other social media Apps, making it easily accessible to millions of young Iranians inside the country.
Iranian authorities have expressed grave concern at the impact of Iranntv on Iranian families, especially among the youth. Ali Darabi, the Deputy Director of Iran’s Radio and Television Broadcasting, IRIB, told the semi-official ISNA News Agency on November 14, 2009, “Today, because 40 percent of people have access to various types of satellite networks, it can be said that a majority of our people have the same level of access as the elites do.” He added, “The enemy is no longer investing in the military arena. It has redirected major investment into media warfare through satellite networks… Some of these media outlets that have penetrated a majority of Iranian households include Simay-e Azadi [Iranntv]…”