Spring is the birthday of Radio Ozodo. Accidentally or knowingly, its first Tajik program was broadcast on March 21 or 22, 1953.
HISTORY. ON THE 70TH ANNIVERSARY OF LIBERATION
The first editor of the Tajik radio program was Mohammad Sarvari Mir . He was born in 1932 in the village of Ishtirkhan near Margelon, and his father, a well-known priest at the beginning of the Stalinist repressions, emigrated to Afghanistan and from there to Turkey. After graduating from university in Istanbul, he worked as an engineer in a company, and when he read the advertisement of Radio Ozodi, he applied and was accepted. He worked from 1964 to 1995.
Mohammad Sarvari Mir described the first days of his work at Radio Ozodi as follows: “In the beginning, we received the news from the Russian department. At that time, the Russian department was the largest and the Russian language was dominant. I had to learn Russian. The Tajik language was also written in Cyrillic. We did not see it in Afghanistan and Turkey. We learned it too. Sometimes I read Tajik newspapers. Within six months or a year, I would translate news from Russian.”
However, a separate Tajik section was established only in 1975 with the efforts of Markiel Daniel (Muzaffar Orifi), the former executive secretary of the “Soviet Tajikistan” newspaper, who emigrated to Israel.
“I started working with enthusiasm, but there was a shortcoming that there was no Tajik sector. They worked together with other departments, including the Turkestan department. First, it was necessary to eliminate this injustice. The leadership did not have complete information about Tajikistan. I appealed and said that Tajikistan is an independent republic and Tajik language is understood in Afghanistan and Iran. I would like to open a special Tajik department. On the one hand, I was very worried that the employees of other departments would not say again that this is nationalism, it singled out Tajiks. Fortunately, the Americans understood. I wanted Tajik speakers to come from Turkey,” said Markiel Daniel.
He was the first head of the Tajik branch of Radio Ozodi, who worked in this position for twenty years. At the beginning, in the development of Tajik programs of Radio Ozodi, listeners’ letters and newspapers and magazines published in Tajikistan were used.
Ibrahim Usmanov, a journalist and media researcher, says, “Daniel was the first Tajik who organized Tajik programs on Radio Ozodi. Since they left Tajikistan, they called their editorial office Tajik and spoke Tajik.”
At that time, the broadcasting of Radio Liberty programs was prohibited in the territory of the former Soviet Union, and radio waves were blocked by any means. This continued until the beginning of reconstruction. The “Iron Wall” was weakening, the way of Tajik culture and scholars to abroad, especially to the West, was becoming more open.
Markiel Daniel (Muzaffar Orifi) says, “we met with many people. For example, some articles were published in “Soviet Tajikiston” or “Komsomol Tajik” newspaper. America was discredited. We said that this is not true. This is propaganda forced from Moscow. To be honest, our task was to deliver information.”
“ADVERTISING” OR “INFORMATION”?
Many articles against Radio Ozodi were published in the Tajik press during the Soviet era. Radio Ozodi’s programs were represented by propaganda against the former Soviet government.
Ebrahim Usmanov, journalist and media researcher: “Radio Ozodi appeared as a repeater of the ideas of the capitalist world. It was a kind of support or a kind of shaker of the European political unity through the Americans. It is the same today. I was in the editorial office of Azodi in Prague. I also collected material about Liberty during my internship at the “Voice of America” radio station in Washington. In my doctoral dissertation, I also specifically researched the issue of Freedom. Freedom is a closed propaganda office, although it does not accept the word propaganda, although it says that we are informers.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Radio Ozodi’s access to information from the former “brother” countries, including Tajikistan, increased. The number of listeners of Radio Ozodi increased, because until then the Soviet people had access to information that was broadcast within the framework of the policy of the government of that time.
According to Javid Muqim, a former reporter of Radio Ozodi, “in very sensitive moments, when an event of international importance took place, Radio Ozodi always followed. Because not everything in these countries was freely said or conveyed to the people. That’s how in the former USSR, the “Voice of America”, BBC and Radio Ozodi were turned off so that people wouldn’t listen. People listened anyway. By all means. Of course, other goals of the radio were also realized, but the important thing is that it was information for the people, from the people for the people.”
RESTORATION OF WAR AND PEACE OF THE TAJIKANS
During the civil war, Tajikistan became a hot spot. Finding accurate information has become very difficult. Radio Ozodi hired a reporter to find and broadcast fast and accurate information in Tajikistan.
Javid Muqim says, “I started working at Radio Ozodi in October 1995. At that time, no one wanted to become a correspondent of Radio Ozodi. I am one of the first journalists who registered in Dushanbe. Later Mirzonabi Khaliqzod and others joined me. At that time, it was necessary to do a lot with very little energy. I have always tried to make my material unbiased and balanced. For example, many times I took interviews from the warring parties, both from the commanders of the opposition side and the commanders of the government side, and published them so that my reports are not one-sided.
The period of Tajik peace negotiations was a sensitive time for the activities of Radio Ozodi. Any incorrect information could disrupt this flow. Sometimes voices were raised that Radio Ozodi was supporting the Tajik opposition in this process.
Ebrahim Usmonov, journalist and media researcher: “I said that Radio Ozodi took the position of the opposition forces of Tajikistan, not the pro-government forces. Perhaps I was the only government official speaking on Radio Ozodi. They called and said, explain what happened. Of course, I was explaining from my position, from the position of the government, from the position of the official forces of Tajikistan. The articles that were against me or against my position were much more in Radio Ozodi than what I said. Sometimes they wanted to use me against me.”
However, not all supporters of the government believe that Radio Ozodi preferred the views of the opposition alliance at the time of the Tajik peace talks. Saifullah Safarov, the former adviser to the president of Tajikistan, said: “The historical service of Radio Ozodi for Tajikistan was primarily that it provided information to the people. The other used to communicate the ideas of the parties to each other during the years of peace negotiations between Tajiks. People’s opinions were conveyed to those who were engaged in negotiations. This, of course, is a service in itself.”
WHAT IS IMPACT?
After the 90s of the last century, the activity of Radio Ozodi in Tajikistan was adapted to the standards of international journalism. These criteria were studied by various circles of Tajik journalism and used in the style and preparation of press articles.
Rajabi Mirzo, a Tajik journalist, says, “Radio Ozodi has gone through another good phase. This stage is from the 90s to the 2000s. A stage that can be said to have contributed to the development of international journalism standards and their introduction within Tajikistan. That is, Tajik press was able to adopt new journalistic templates and international journalistic norms to a certain extent by quoting Ozodi, publishing Ozodi’s articles.
“To think and say that Radio Ozodi had no influence on us, neither professionally nor politically, is completely wrong. From Radio Ozodi, we learn how to collect material, how to use materials in our writings, punctuation, emphasis. The teachers who are specialists in this field are obliged to explain to the trainee journalists that this thing about Liberty is good and this thing about Liberty is not acceptable, so that the student can see his position in this matter. This one. Second, the news system of Tajikistan is divided into two parts. First of all, the news system that is published in Tajikistan itself. The second is the news system published for Tajikistan. Ozodi is one of the news systems published for Tajikistan. I mean the Tajik department. Of course, it is important to know what people say about us. If there is something good, something to learn, we need to accept it,” said Professor Ebrahim Usmanov.
An event in the 2000s changed many of the assumptions and opinions of the people of Tajikistan, especially about the activities of Radio Ozodi. Nurali Davlatov, a Tajik journalist and historian, says, “I think that until now the same idea that Radio Ozodi is a spy radio remains in the minds of many people. Especially in the minds of those who were brought up in the Soviet era. Therefore, I think, until the beginning of the 2000s, until the time when President Emomali Rahmon went to the office of Ozodi in Prague, Tajik experts treated the radio very cautiously and established communication.”
In recent years, Radio Ozodi has become almost the only media that broadcasts alternative news from inside and outside Tajikistan. Oinihol Bobonazarova, a lawyer and winner of the “Women’s Courage” Award in 2014, says, “often, unfortunately, many things are hidden, and we learn a lot from this radio. Personally, when I wake up in the morning, I listen to Radio Ozodi first. Here is one thing that I am very surprised that we rarely see officials on this radio. On the contrary, when something is broadcasted by Radio Ozodi, you can see on Facebook that they contradict and criticize with all kinds of names. The best option would be for them to come, speak, speak. This is the best because it is watched all over the world. Of course, there are some shortcomings, I know that some journalists are not registered, this is to the detriment of the society itself, to the detriment of the government itself.”
Officials in the Tajik government have different views on the activities of Radio Ozodi and its reporters. Sometimes, officials speak openly even among reporters.
TRUTH AND PRESSURE AND OBSTACLES
Despite the fact that Radio Ozodi’s activities are considered important and effective, in the last few years pressure has been placed on its reporters. Forbidding reporting, beating journalists, depriving them of their work permits have become common ways of obstructing the work of Radio Ozodi journalists.
In April 2021, while the authorities of Tajikistan were denying the arrival of the COVID-19 disease in the country and their words were being watered down by the World Health Organization, Radio Ozodi reported the death of the first person with the infection of the coronavirus, and with this the target was under more pressure. A widespread campaign to discredit the radio has reached its peak. Such campaigns arise every time the radio discusses serious issues of public life.
In 2022, Radio Ozodi won the international David Burke award for its courage and professional activity. One of the former heads of Radio Ozodi sees the main problem of his work in the fact that officials do not like telling the truth.
Despite all the problems, Radio Ozodi continues its original mission of providing accurate and alternative news. Broadcasting of accurate news and information, including the views of all parties and avoiding bias and personal opinion, is considered the only way by the employees of Radio Ozodi to influence their work and attract the trust of a wide circle of people.
Source : Радио Озоди