It has been more than two months since I have ceased to work with Radio Zamaneh, a broadcasting organization that I have been working with as a producer and reporter based in London from the beginning of its work. My work still remains up there on their website and I leave the judgment of its quality to the audience of Radio Zamaneh.
At the start, I was very excited to be working with Radio Zamaneh. Yet, my departure was not a favorable one, not because I was dismissed from the team by the newly appointed editor in chief and director of Radio Zamaneh, but that it was done in a very unorthodox manner without use of professional procedure or proper reasoning. From the very beginning, they treated this matter as an absolutely binding decision which could only be disputed in the case of a conflict between myself and Radio Zamaneh organization.
From a logical perspective, it might not be the best idea for a journalist to report a case of conflict with a media organization they had been employed by, since it can jeopardize his/her career and be damaging to his/her reputation. But all those that know me, may be aware that in my many years of working with the media, I am not exactly used to resolving matters through conflict, and when a problem does occur I tend to handle it discreetly so long as it is all done with reasonable discussion. And even in this case, I have tried my very best to use proper and reasonable language following Radio Zamaneh’s protocol to handle this matter, but was faced with people that seemed fairly unfamiliar with such etiquette. Instead of trying to come to fair terms, they simply tried to impose their own wishes using adversarial techniques such as continuous threats and outright denial of anything I tried to put forward: basically trying their best to make me withdraw anything I had said which they disagreed with.
Until now I had not mentioned this matter to any media outlets, still hoping for it to be handled internally, but even in the end, I was not exactly satisfied with the sort of resolution that I received, from the highest authority of the outlet – the Board of Radio Zamaneh – who eventually sided with the Editor in Chief and the Manager of Radio Zamaneh whereas they are expected to be fair and balanced.
If my case was just a matter of employment, I would have never brought it to the media, but it is so important that I think everyone concerned with Persian media should be aware of it. They should know what is happening within a media source that claims to promote justice and human rights in Iran. The offence against me and the bashing of my character by Radio Zamaneh’s Editor in Chief was to such an extent that I think cannot be ignored and must be revealed to the public. The public should know how they treat their employees and personnel, regardless of their position or contribution and impact in Radio Zamaneh.
It is difficult to speak against a media that I have worked so hard for during the last three years and I wished there to be an alternative voice for Iranians who are fed up with the dominance of the mainstream Persian media whether inside or outside Iran and looking for a transparent and unbiased organization that reflects the diversity of thoughts and ideas among Iranian people, but on the contrary I am profoundly disappointed by the way Radio Zamaneh’s organization has treated me.
I do not intend to criticize the content of Radio Zamaneh here but I just want to make a critical statement against aggressive, despotic and unethical behavior by its managers towards me.
The fact is that during my dispute with Mr.Hareinejad (the new Editor in Chief of Radio Zamaneh) over my work status and legal rights as a full time correspondent of Radio Zamaneh in London, he insisted to simply place me in a position where I would have to accept his proposed offer of employment or otherwise he would fire me consequently. I found the way that he dealt with this situation was highly disagreeable and not of a professional nature.
And when I did not accept his offer he asked me out of his office. As I was approaching to see and my old friends and colleagues in Radio Zamaneh speak with them, he repeatedly requested me to get out of the Radio Zamaneh building, and threatened that he would call the Security of the building to get me out if I did not do so myself.
A few days later he terminated my agreement with Radio Zamaneh and in an effort to block any communications, ordered to close my email account. And when I legally complained against his ill-mannered behavior and unfair decision, I received a threatening e-mail from him which read a footnote in Farsi translating to “Don’t forget to put on a bullet-proof vest”.
I formally made a complaint about the uncivilized behaviour of the editor in chief of Radio Zamaneh and his offensive actions against me including accusing me of having an unfit employment status, forcing me to agree to his terms, threatening me out of the Zamaneh building, issuing fines, the threatening words that I have received from him by email and finally terminating my contract and firing me, which I found to be an unfair dismissal, and clearly against the codes of practice of professional journalism.
In my complaint I requested Mrs Kronenberg (the director of Radio Zamaneh) to do a thorough investigation about the matter based on the codes of conduct of Radio Zamaneh and a disciplinary action is most certainly expected accordingly.
I am tremendously offended and it is my right to legally pursue the case and ask for a thorough investigation of the grievance which can lead to a fair resolution accordingly.
The response I received from the director of Radio Zamaneh showed no effort had been made to clarify why I had made a complaint, and instead sided with the editor in chief and refused to accept my claims about his offensive actions – even refusing to take into account any evidence that I tried to present, proving his foul actions or even documents proving my current work status.
Following it I was bombarded with a bunch of emails from the director of Radio Zamaneh, all of which contain an overtly threatening tone, requesting me to withdraw my complaint against Mr. Haerinejad and have no further business with the organization.
They also stated several times that I am not allowed to contact my friends and colleagues at Radio Zamaneh and at the same time threatened them in case they showed their sympathy to me which they might genuinely be punished for.
How could a journalist be indifferent to the fate of his fellow journalists in the same organization, and to create a barrier of fear preventing people from speaking out and not only that, but doing it by misreading rules to such an extent that they find any form of objection to be punishable by fines?
I know that it is hard to believe such actions being conducted by people that run a modern-day independent media but unfortunately it is true and I am very sorry that oppression and trepidation is currently the code of conducts in Radio Zamaneh and I am certain that this policy will seriously damage its reputation very soon.
Journalist and Radio Broadcaster
(Former Correspondent of Radio Zamaneh in London)
4 December 2009
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