A Persian Amsterdammer Blogs.

Saturday, 27 September 2008

Making a Change 103

Reza Deghati is a dedicated and award winning photographer. He was very close to Ahmad Shah Massoud, the Afghan freedom fighter who got killed by Al-Qaeda 2 days before the attacks on the twin towers.

Reza still fights for human rights whenever, whereever and however he can, starting initiatives in Afghanistan and many other countries. One cause that he supports is "Reporters Without Borders". To help them out he's donated some of his pictures to be sold on their website:


Tuesday, 16 September 2008

The Power of 6.

I was recently tagged by my friend Eric Asp who runs one of the Fiction Critique Groups in the Mezrab. What does that mean? you ask. Well, here are the rules:

1. Post the rules on your blog
2. Write 6 random things about yourself
3. Tag 6 people at the end of your post
4. If you're tagged, DO IT and pass on the tag


1. This month the Sahebdivani family celebrates being in Europe for 25 years. That's a quarter of a century! C'mon people of Iran, when do you start a counter-revolution already so the family can have a decent vacation in the old country! Lazy gits! Seriously though, we should have a party or something.

2. My mom just returned home from a visit to her relatives (her second trip in 25 years) with about a million pounds of extra luggage: gifts her family and friends gave her to bring to Amsterdam. At the airport they demanded almost € 200,- to fly all the extra weight. I seriously doubt wether all the stuff was even worth half of that, but try to decline receiving gifts from Persian relatives. In our culture even kindness has a hint of the grotesque.

3. I want Nicholas Gurewitch to of http://www.pbfcomics.com/ to start drawing again. I think the man is brilliant. Here's a few of my favorite ones:


4. At the age of 4 I decided to become a biologist. I was good at math and the sciences and breezed through school without much effort. There was even a bug named after me when I was 11, it goes by the latin name of: Scottotympana Sahebdivanii (it's listed towards the end of the page.) I even studied biology at the University of Amsterdam but dropped out in the first year to become a writer/storyteller/musician. This was the scariest thing I had done in my life, as I didn't think I was particularly gifted as a musician or a writer and got nervous speaking in public.

5. I think this is the coolest man to have walked the face of the earth:

6. I fall in love with voices. The most georgious women I've loved were plain in the eyes of my friends who were deaf to the melodies of their words or the tone of their voices. For me the faces of supermodels become misformed and too horrible to behold when they screech rather then talk or converse in a whiny wimper.


Here are the people I tag, should they choose to accept their mission:

1. Derrick / An old friend, I havn't seen him for years. He often brightens up my day with his sense of humor.

2. Tori / A partner in crime! We have the cynical view about life and people in general. She has an excellent (and famous) blog with her husband Kamran.

3. Cousin N. / I last saw him 23 years ago. I hope it won't take much longer for us to meet again. Write more in English mister!

4. Farnaaz / A very inspiring young Iranian woman.

5. William Gibson / I don't actually know William, but I like to pretend that he reads my blog on a regular basis. And if he does, so should you!

6. Alborz / My little brother. A man with a heart of gold. He doesn't have a blog, but maybe this will convince him to start one.


That was fun! I'm off to sleep now.

Thursday, 11 September 2008

Happy Birthday RadioZamaneh!

It's the birthday of our happy radiostation Radio Zamaneh! Woohoo! 2 years young and still going strong. I'm very proud to have been involved with this station since it's conception.

Ooh wait, the Beatles whant to say something:

And now I give the floor to Kamran Ashtary, head of Public Relations:

Radio Zamaneh Celebrates its Second Anniversary

Radio Zamaneh

Amsterdam September 10, 2008

Radio Zamaneh, a Persian-language media outlet headquartered in Amsterdam, is a participatory platform that encourages citizen journalism. During the past two years, it has published reports from professional journalists and authors, bloggers, and citizens. Within that short span of time, it has risen into the top 5000 sites out of 55 million ranked by Technorati (http://technorati.com/blogs/radiozamaaneh.com?reactions). According to the same source, radiozamaaneh.com currently has more than 36,000 blog reactions, more than any other Persian media located outside Iran. Its website is a top source of information, ranking first in link-sharing among Iranian bloggers according to the independent Didish Report (http://didish.kamangir.net/report/03mar08/sites.php).

In the last two years since the inauguration of Radio Zamaneh (Sep 11, 2006), a radio station with a multi-media website, it has actively worked to promote press freedoms and report on human rights. In March 2008 it was awarded "Best multi-media Persian website" by a leading group in Iran that presents annual awards for the best of the Persian language web: Haft Sang (http://www.topmedia.ir/).

In two short years, Radio Zamaneh has gained a strong following with an average of 4 million page impressions per month and more than 130,000 monthly visits from unique IP addresses. The absolute number of unique visitors during 2007 was 1,250,000.

In the first six months of 2008 alone, in addition to daily news on the situation in Iran, Radio Zamaneh presented more than 500 reports and interviews focusing on human rights and women in society.

Our Listeners

Everywhere you go in Iran, people discuss the day's issues. From breakfast with the family to the shared taxi ride to the butcher shop to the workplace to the park to the teahouses, everyone is talking and sharing information.

Every piece of information is examined, dissected, passed on. One access point, one person with a computer, or one person with a satellite connection can pass on information to thirty or more people either by sharing files or through conversation. In order to understand the impact of Radio Zamaneh, it is important to first understand how the information is shared. It is important to look beyond what the numbers of unique visitors to the website or Internet can tell us and imagine the many paths that information takes from one single access point.

Here is what one of our listeners, Mohammad, tells us. "We usually save the Audio-Books & Audio-Stories on the flash memories or cell phones, and we listen to them while having fun in a cafĂ© or park, or while wasting time in the traffic, or on journeys. This happens several times a week. I sometimes capture RZ Satellite Radio and distribute it between my friends; for I'm the only person who uses DVB cards (I don't know what you call it… I mean an onboard satellite receiver that lets me record almost everything very easily and save them on the computer)."

Mohammad, a twenty-something translator in Esfahan who is also a blogger and often translates Radio Zamaneh pieces into English for his own English-language blog, continues:

Politics aside, from a cultural point of view, I feel passionate about RZ. It is doing a good business, reconciling some of the youth with Iran's and Farsi's rich cultural heritage. I'm to an extent a religious person; but I have come to believe that there is a need for a secular (or 'not that religious' or 'not regime-driven' or at least 'not politically affiliated with the regime/conservative parties') source propagating Iran's culture. That is because many of the youth resist the cultural food provided by regime-driven sources, thanks to negative political feelings some people possess toward the regime. And RZ is doing a good business in this case.

Another listener, Javid is a 43-year-old healthcare worker who has been living in Holland for the last 13 years contacted Radio Zamaneh to express his support for the programming. Here is what he had to say:

Radio Zamaneh is very positive about Iranians all over the world. They are not just interested in Muslims or other religions. They don't have just one idea or force their opinions on you. This is what I like about Radio Zamaneh.

I am Ba'hai myself, and I like that there are many ideas and no affiliations. When I first started listening to Radio Zamaneh, I thought it was like the other stations. Those stations force one idea of Iran and Iranians on you. They have a definite affiliation.

It seems that the other stations only want to talk to you if you say what they want you to say. This is not true for Radio Zamaneh. I like Radio Zamaneh now because it doesn't announce its affiliations on every page. Everybody may contribute their own ideas and make programs for Radio Zamaneh and this makes it different from the others.

About Radio Zamaneh

Since its inception, Press Now (http://www.pressnow.nl/) has helped raise funds, provided for the recruitment and selection of a director, and supported programming and organizational development with training and consulting. Radio Zamaneh was made possible because of funding from the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs after a unanimous vote in parliament supporting media plurality in Iran.

Radio Zamaneh is a participatory platform that encourages citizen journalism. In addition to reports from professional journalists and authors, Zamaneh publishes reports from non-professionals. It offers training and support for home recording and invites written contributions from bloggers and others.

In the past two years, we have covered conferences and interviews with hundreds individuals including political experts, economic and social analysts, professors from all over the world, filmmakers and sports celebrities, political personalities and musicians. We have spoken to representatives of minority communities, covered stories ignored by others, and sparked debate in Iran.

Since the start of Zamaneh's broadcasts in August 2006, the audience has grown rapidly (growth rate was an estimated 30% in the first seven months). The growth rate among listeners and readers within Iran was unexpectedly quick given the fact that there has been no opportunity to advertise inside Iran.

For more information, contact Kamran Ashtary at (+31 6) 586 3399.

Email: kamran.ashtary@radiozamaneh.com


Wait, wait! There's a voice coming from beyond:

Monday, 8 September 2008

Monday = Revolution Day!

Here's 2 songs to energise the new week. They both go into the "Play Them As Loud As You Can" category. Hopefully they'll get you jumping off your chair, ready to start a revolution. The first is by Gogoll Bordello, one of the bands that initiated the Gypsy Balkan craze. I remember seeing them on the small stage of the Melkweg in Amsterdam, thinking, this is what we want to do, play as loud as this band on this very stage. A year later we did.

Of the next band I couldn't find a good clip on the internet. A shame, because these ladies rock! Iva Nova is an all female folk punk band from Saint Petersburg. We once opened for them in the OCCII, another great venue in Amsterdam. When these witches started to play we were all flabbergasted, our jaws on the floor, ready to give up music. The video doesn't do service to their actual live performance. If I'll find a better video I'll replace this one.

Friday, 5 September 2008

Friday Night Music

I'm not cool, I just know cool people! It's not totally true: I am kinda cool, but I try not to let it go to my head. Anyway, one of the cool people I know is Terry Man. The Rock and Roll legend of Amsterdam. Browsing around on the internet I saw that he has a new site up, as well as some new songs on his MySpace. Check it out here:


I especially like the songs Fire and Fear City.

Another cool project is Robin Block's band Wildeman. They combine poetry with soundscapes, rythmic wordsmithing with percussive emotions. Check out their material:



By the way, I'd like to share this little gem that I found as a response to an on-line article on love and science.

The user AstroFungalInfection made the following comment:

Love and Science mix like honey and mustard.
One's sweet and sticky, the other sharp.
Together, they make a sticky mess that's good for marinating pork.

Thursday, 4 September 2008


Hey Gang,

Here's some updates on things I think are important.

Freedom of Press - I'm very sad to say that accomplished filmmaker and journalist Andrew Berends as well as his translator Samuel George have been arrested by the Nigerian government on espionage charges. Andrew was making a film about the Niger Delta. Please spread the word about Andrew and Samuel.


Mujahedin - A while back I posted a link to James Longley's documentary about the Mojahedin. One of the people James interviewed for his film is Gareth Porter, an investigative journalist with a thing or two to say about the MEK. Now James posted the full 40 minute interview with Gareth on the following shared Vimeo channel:


Women's Rights - The most fun way to be a feminist is to attend LadyFest: a festival organised in different cities all over the world. This weekend there's one in Amsterdam (actually, the kick off is tonight) with concerts, films, workshops on making your own sanitary pads and sex toys and much, much more. Check out

And now for something completely different:

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Making a Change 102 - Women's rights in Iran

If you're as concerned as I am about women's rights in Iran (and the rest of the world), chances are you're also frustrated about what little there is that we can do. However, little does not mean nothing. The truth is, women in Iran are struggling to improve their lives even in these desperate times and though they will be the ones changing the system, they need every bit of help that we can offer.

Yesterday I spoke to a young well known activist who recently moved to the Netherlands to study journalism. She's been involved in the one million signatures campaign in Iran, and has faced harassment by the government. In our conversation she made a few interesting remarks. First of all she stressed to me how important it is for women to become financially independant. As in Europe a few decades ago legal equality alone doesn't mean much if women still have to depend on fathers and husbands.

She also told me how much the movement would be helped with books and films.

My question to you, the reader is the following, which books and films would you send to Iran? What are books that have informed and inspired you? What are the films that opened your eyes? Let's make a list together!

In the mean time, here's a link to the English site of the movement: