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July 24, 2007
Silencing the Voice of America?
The National Iranian American Council (NIAC) on their web site has announced that it has "taken legal action against proponents of US-Iran war who have waged a defamation campaign against NIAC". Of course as is usually the case with NIAC, the truth is between lines. By legal action, NIAC is referring to a letter written by their own lawyer to Voice of America-TV (VOA). This tactic, commonly known as "cease and desist letter" is typically not the first step in a legal action but an alternative to taking a legal action, aimed to intimidate. NIAC in the same statement has also bragged about having forced VOA to cancel further scheduled broadcasts. If this is indeed true, this is a shocking retreat by the Voice of America-TV that brings disgrace to the free media and discredits the United States in its strive to advance democracy and freedom of the speech in IRAN.
Unquestionably NIAC and Mr. Trita Parsi must be given adequate opportunity on the same program on VOA to challenge Mr. Daioleslam. However, NIAC and Mr. Parsi can not use bullying and intimidating tactics to silence VOA or any one else that questions their motives and operation. In fact, let's listen to Mr. Trita Parsi himself when he so fiercely lectured us about the right of Kamal Kharazi, the mullah's foreign minister to talk in UCLA without interruption by human rights activists:
"Freedom of expression is a fundamental human right that cannot be denied to anyone-including a person accused of violating other people's human rights or guilty of representing a government that continues to show inadequate respect for these rights. This is a fundamental principle, as a tit-for-tat approach to Human Rights ultimately belies and undermines the very idea of these rights.....Articulated reasoning, based on sound logic, when put forth firmly and unequivocally, yet without resorting to intimidation and disruption, are likely to achieve the objectives of Human Rights much more effectively than noisy demonstrations. Indeed, threatening and disruptive behavior is essentially inconsistent with the embrace of Human Rights values and principles. Dialogue and respect for the rights of others to express their views- however unpopular, constitute the very foundation of a society that is respectful of human rights.....We need to implement and nurture a culture of mutual respect and dialogue, and, once and for all, turn our backs on intimidation, verbal aggression and intolerance. We strongly believe that, today, this is a pivotal issue in Iran as well as among Iranians living outside of Iran, and we call for a wide exchange of ideas on the topic."
I have one piece of advice for the Voice of America, Mr. Daioleslam and Mr. Trita Parsi. Let NIAC proceed to a real legal action. Iranians would welcome the opportunity to hear Mr. Parsi, under oath, explain his relation with Tehran and a potpourri of felons close to them.