VOA Farsi should cover Azerbaijani provinces of Iran

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VOA Farsi should cover Azerbaijani provinces of Iran

Yashar Hakak Pour Maraghi started this petition to Adam Gartner, and it now has 5,875 signatures

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The Azerbaijani people of Iran have actively participated in... the recent protests that erupted after the murder of Mahsa Amini, and these protests have been brutally suppressed by Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI). According to the head of the Human Rights Commission of the Iranian Azerbaijan Bar Association, in just the city of Tabriz alone, 1,700 people were arrested over the last month. Unfortunately, coverage of these protests–including footage of the unique protest chants, the brutal attacks on protesters, as well as reports of those arrested and held in prisons– from different cities of the Azerbaijani-Turkic provinces of Iran have not been reflected in the reporting by Voice of America Persian News Service (VOA Farsi).

Human rights activist Yashar Hakakpour has repeatedly asked journalists at VOA Iran’s desk to provide a platform for Azerbaijanis to discuss their needs and demands. But as a result of VOA Farsi’s policy of anti-Azerbaijani bias in their selection of guests for programming, there is a gross lack of coverage of the situation on the ground and the demands of the Iranian Azerbaijani community continue to be ignored.

Voice of America’s Iranian bureau was created by the U.S. Congress to curb the censorship and restrictions imposed by the IRI and to proliferate the freedom of information. As it stands, however, U.S. taxpayers are being given biased reporting with respect to ethnicity, political viewpoints, and sexual orientation. In this pivotal period when the people in Iran need accurate portrayals of what is happening on the ground, as well as international solidarity, discrimination and neglect in VOA Farsi’s coverage of the Azerbaijani people in Iran is sewing confusion and helping create an environment for the spread of misinformation, which in turn is demoralizing and discouraging protesters on the streets of Iran.

Therefore, we, the concerned members of the Azerbaijani community, wish to put an end to VOA’s persistent discrimination in reporting events from the Azerbaijani-Turkic provinces of Iran.

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