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Radio Farda’s Daily “Visit” With Political Prisoners

Molaghat, or "Visit” is one of Radio Farda’s newest and boldest projects. The program, which airs every week from Saturday to Thursday under producer Arash Hassannia, shines a light into prison life in Iran, with each installment dedicated to the experience of an individual political prisoner.

Launched in December 2011, Molaghat has already introduced Radio Farda's audience to more than 160 activists and individuals imprisoned by the Iranian regime because of their political or religious beliefs. Radio Farda director Armand Mostofi says that, according to Farda's sources, at least 400 political prisoners are currently being held in Iran, including well-known activists, less-familiar politically active individuals, prisoners of conscience and adherents to the Baha'i religion, a group that is systematically persecuted in Iran. "The total number of political prisoners is much higher, but we have complete and credible information for about 400 of them," Mostofi said.

One of the biggest challenges faced by the producers of Molaghat, according to Radio Farda editor-in-chief Niusha Boghrati, is gathering reliable information about some of the less-well-known prisoners. They are, however, in regular contact with prisoners who have been released from jail, as well as with the friends and families of those still being held. "We also gather a lot of info from social media as well as human rights activists based in Iran. A lot of prisoners contact us and we get in touch with them directly," Boghrati said.

The daily profiles are also reaching the inmates themselves. One recently released prisoner told Radio Farda that radio receivers were smuggled into Tehran’s notorious Evin and Gohardasht prisons. Inmates at both facilities started listening to Farda programming in shifts. “Everyone listens to a part and then shares the information with others,” the former prisoner recalled. He said that less well-known prisoners anxiously await each program and look forward to their turn to be profiled.

Mostofi explained that, after a known political activist is arrested, his or her name might appear for the next month in the Iranian media. But later, everyone forgets. “With Molaghat, we strive to keep their voices heard and unforgotten,” he said.