Shortwave Radio Can Free Iran

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Dr. Arash Irandoost,

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Arutz 7

In reaction to the Islamic Republic's media crackdown, I have been discussing the merits of establishing shortwave radio broadcasting with media experts and those interested in over throwing the Islamic dictatorship of Iran. The idea has received wide acceptance as a viable tool. I have decided to share it with the people of the world and ask for input and financial support, as they have been most generous and supportive allies of this pro-
Establishing reliable communications between Iran and the people of the world is essential.
democracy movement. Many world leaders and international organizations, on the other hand, have been absent and silent.

The Islamic Republic has systematically attempted to cut off communication links, in order to accomplish its inhumane and bloody massacre of the peaceful demonstrators who, within the confines of the ever-restrictive Islamic Republic's laws, rose up and demanded an accurate vote count. Thus, establishing reliable communications between Iran and the people of the world is essential and of utmost urgency. 

I applaud Senators McCain, Graham, Liebermann, McCotter, and many others, for taking the leadership and speaking up in support of the Iranian people in their determination to establish Internet communication between the pro-democracy demonstrators and the people of the world. A discussion of the prevailing communications situation in Iran will help us focus our energies and resources where it is most effective and does the most good. 

International reporters being absent, the majority of Iranians get their news from the state-run media, which is directly controlled by the Ahmadinejad camp. Doctored pictures of missiles, fighter jets and exaggerated crowds during Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's speeches should give the reader an idea of the type and quality of manipulated information Iranians are exposed to by the mullahs every day. 

Internet communications is under the ultimate control of the Islamic Republic as well, no thanks to companies like Nokia. The regime can easily cut it off, limit access, decrease bandwidth, and use it as a spying and surveillance tool to identify and arrest pro-democracy youth activists. Compared to the United States and many other developed countries, access to the Internet is in its early stages, and the majority use dial-up modems to access news and information. Not to mention that many Iranians do not speak the English language or other foreign languages, and cannot realize the full benefits the Internet offers. 

Twenty or so Farsi satellite television stations broadcast to Iran from the United States (Los Angeles and Washington), Canada and Europe. Many of these stations are directly or indirectly funded by the regime. Only a handful of the publicly supported opposition television stations are actively fighting the regime, but with major obstacles. The regime has successfully been able to shut down, jam or interrupt their programming and broadcasts to Iran at critical times such as these. Statistics are not readily available or reliable, however, very few Iranians own satellite receivers due to the expense and illegality of ownership - it is a crime and thus subject to severe punishment. Reports and pictures from Iran show that the regime is using helicopters to locate satellite dishes on the rooftops, and is actively engaged in collecting and destroying them; again, to limit access to information and news. 

Much to the dislike of the ayatollahs, another mode of communication that Iranians have successfully utilized to receive information and send their messages, along with horrible pictures of killings, beatings and mass demonstrations, has been cellular phones. Here again, telecommunications is state run and, as mentioned earlier, thanks to companies such as Nokia and Siemens the regime has had the upper hand. 

Realizing the limitations of the aforementioned telecommunication technologies, we might have overlooked the efficacy of the shortwave radio broadcast. It has merit and deserves a closer look.

Shortwave possesses a number of advantages over newer technologies:

  • The difficulty in censoring programming by authorities and arresting listeners: unlike the Internet and cell phones, mullahs cannot monitor which stations (sites) are being listened to (accessed).

  • Low-cost shortwave radios are widely available in Iran.

  • Many newer shortwave receivers are portable and can be battery operated, making them useful in difficult circumstances. Newer technology includes hand-cranked radios which provide power for a short time.

  • Shortwave radios can be used in situations where Internet or satellite technology is unavailable, unaffordable or illegal.

  • Shortwave radio travels much farther than broadcast FM (88-108 MHz). Shortwave broadcasts can be easily transmitted over a distance of several thousand kilometers; i.e., from one continent to another, especially at night.  

Despite its vast natural resources, Iran is still a Third World country. However, almost all Iranians own radios and use them regularly to get their news and entertainment. Radios are not illegal and almost all automobiles are equipped with a shortwave band. Shopkeepers, housewives, taxi drivers, street vendors and factory workers listen to the radio on a regular basis. The radios are also very cheap, thanks to Chinese and Korean imports. It is
Khomeini successfully used shortwave broadcasts from France.
noteworthy that Khomeini successfully used shortwave broadcasts from France for almost a year, broadcasting his propaganda against the Shah and preparing the people for uprising prior to the revolution of 1979. 

By establishing a reliable shortwave broadcast, the opposition groups outside of Iran will gain a formidable tool to transmit their information and messages of support, encouragement all over Iran. They will more effectively mobilize the entire nation, not just the Tehran residents, to rise up against this tyrannical and brutal regime. 

The estimated cost for such a system varies, but I am informed by many experts that a functional system for a two-hour daily broadcast, with an editing and sound room, can be set up for around $500,000. This is a small price to pay to free a peace- and freedom-loving nation that has been held hostage by a ruthless, medieval and barbaric regime.

Will you help this civilized nation rise up from the ashes and the darkest period in its 7,000-year history, to join the ranks of democratic, civilized and freedom-loving states?