Kambiz Hosseini, host of Voice of America’s popular Farsi language TV program, Parazit, told a U.S. Senate panel Wednesday, “Despite government pressure to limit freedom in Iran, my generation is sending a clear message to the Islamic republic: we want our basic rights as human beings.”
Hosseini was one of several witnesses invited by the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Near Eastern and South and Central Asian Affairs to testify about the human rights situation in Iran, and the state of the democratic reform movement.
Also testifying were, Assistant Secretary of State Michael Posner, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Philo Dibble, human rights advocate Rudi Bakhtiar and Andrew Apostolou from Freedom House. Posner called conditions inside Iran “deplorable.” He and other witnesses told Subcommittee Chairman Robert Casey, Jr. (D-PA) and other senators that there had been an upsurge in executions and the jailing of government opponents in Iran.
As the host of Parazit, with its satirical and sometimes biting humor, Hosseini said it was important to keep lines of communication open with the Iranian people and to give the audience a “chance to speak out about conditions and events in Iran they might not otherwise have.”
Parazit, broadcast from Washington on VOA’s Persian News Network (PNN), has cultivated a growing base of fans that use social media sites to view and share the program.
Parazit’s Facebook page now has more than 428,000 friends, and when new installments of the show are posted each week, users flock to the site to download the program or share their thoughts.
Hosseini told the Senate panel that the show depends heavily on the audience for ideas and feedback. “Our audience is why we do Parazit,” Hosseini said, the program “speaks to and for the many people inside Iran who lack the freedom to express themselves.”
He told the panel that the Iranian government may someday lift the “electronic curtain” it has built, but until that day comes, he said Parazit and other VOA Persian News Network programs will keep open the lines of communication with the Iranian people.