Press Release by Freedom House
Gozaar - meaning 'transition' - recognizes that free access to ideas and information is the cornerstone of freedom. In response to widespread censorship and the closure of all independent print newspapers in Iran, the journal seeks to help Iranian democrats fulfill the universal aspiration for freedom of expression by creating an inclusive and provocative space for the discussion of liberty. Accessible at http://www.gozaar.org , the initiative is dedicated to the courageous women and men in Iran working to make their country free.
"Iran's leadership presents an aggressive, unified face to the world," said Jennifer Windsor, Executive Director of Freedom House. "In reality, however, it only appears unified because alternate sources of expression have been shut down. Gozaar allows those dissenting voices to be heard once again, and to continue a dialogue within the country and with the rest of the world."
With funds provided by The Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other private sources, Freedom House has created this monthly bi-lingual publication to revive the spirit of intellectual exchange on democracy and open societies that previously existed in print inside Iran. Each issue features interviews, essays, political cartoons, feature articles, satire and reviews of art, film and literature.
"Dissidents like Akbar Ganji once used print journalism as a means to expose the Islamic Republic's repression and terror. Now, after the closure of over 100 reformist print publications, Iran's democrats are continuing their efforts by voicing dissent through online forums such as Gozaar," said Mariam Memarsadeghi, Senior Program Manager for the Middle East and North Africa at Freedom House.
A central feature of Gozaar is its bi-lingual discussion forums. Following each article is a moderated space in which readers from around the world can contribute their ideas in either Persian or English. To prevent government surveillance or blockage of the site, Gozaar uses the most innovative internet security technology to allow readers in Iran or elsewhere free, unfiltered access.
Contributors to the webzine include feminist Kurdish rights activist Roya Tolouee and internationally praised writer and free speech advocate Faraj Sarkouhi, as well as contributors writing under pseudonym from inside the Islamic Republic. In addition, the work of internationally prominent theorists of democratization are translated to Persian and posted.
Readers can access a Resources Page, which provides categorized links to organizations, bloggers and resource tools concerning democracy and human rights, in both Persian and English. In every issue, "Gozaar Picks" provides a monthly anthology of some of the best blog entries, op-eds and articles written on the development of democracy in Iran from other publications and websites.
The speed at which speeches, personal narratives, books, letters, testimonies and articles now reach Iranians inside and outside the country is unparalleled, and the egalitarian nature of this internet exchange gives it an integral role in the discussion and advancement of democratic ideals. Freedom House anticipates that the voices and opinions expressed in Gozaar will add to the pressure for freedom of expression and democratic governance for all Iranians.
Freedom House, an independent non-governmental organization that supports the expansion of freedom in the world, has monitored political rights and civil liberties in Iran since 1972. Freedom House's survey of political rights and civil liberties in every country of the world, Freedom in the World 2006, ranks Iran as Not Free. The organization's Freedom of the Press 2006 survey also ranks the country as Not Free for press freedom.
... Payvand News - 9/30/06 ... --