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Six Minutes to Freedom
Anti-Taleban FM Radio Station Said Operating North of Kabul
October 10, 2001

The Northern Alliance, opposed to the Taleban, runs the on-line only Radio Voice of Mojahed http:///www.payamemujahid.com/radio/index.htm which broadcasts via the Internet three days per week in Pashto and Dari.

The Radio Voice of Mojahed web site on 10 October carried the following report:

"Reports from areas north of Kabul say that the radio station has been founded with the help of a France-based organization, which supports freedom of speech, and will be broadcasting three hours a day on the FM waveband. The radio can cover an area within a 40 km radius. The radio operates in [eastern] Parvan Province.

A dispatch from the French news agency AFP on 9 October supplied the following details:

"Paris, 9 October: Everything about it exasperates the Taleban. It broadcasts music, which is banned by the Kabul regime, is aimed at women and even has a female presenter. Since Tuesday [9 October], a small radio station has been broadcasting in the north of Afghanistan, with the support of the French association Droit de Parole (Right to Speak).

"For the time being, Radio Sol [Ground Radio] (Radio Paix [Radio Peace]) only broadcasts over a range of 30 km, around the current front-line, on the same side as the armed opposition to the Taleban. An area with around 150,000 inhabitants.

"But subsequently, Droit de Parole, which has made a one-year financial commitment, before handing over to the Afghans, hopes 'to broadcast to Kabul and the Panshir Valley' with the 'imminent' setting up of a more powerful transmitter, placed on top of a mountain.

"In the meantime, 'Radio Sol' has to make do with what is available. 'The transmitter's pylon consists of two lampposts, one inserted inside the other, it has been set up in Jabalosaraj, it has a very basic studio and equipment donated by a number of sponsors, notably the French public radio and television,' says Jean-Pierre Grimaldi, a technician with the association, who has just returned from Afghanistan. 'One also has to fight', he added, 'to find an electricity supply in a region where 60 is the maximum voltage'.

"However, there is no problem finding a frequency on the FM waveband, which is totally empty, as international radio stations like the BBC, RFI [Radio France Internationale] and Voice of America are on shortwave, which isn't always very audible.

"'The mediumwave transmitters have all been destroyed by the Taleban, apart from the one which enables the broadcasting of Radio [Voice of] Shari'ah, which can be heard around Kabul,' Jean-Pierre Grimaldi said.

"On 96 MHz, the radio offers education programmes aimed at young people and women, health, maternity and childcare courses, some news and Afghan music, which has been banned by the Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice.

"'This station came about through a project aimed at promoting the role and the place of Afghan women. It was supported by [Northern Alliance] Commander Masud [recently killed],' explained Dragica Ponorac, chairwoman of Droit de Parole, an association which has already been at the origin of 'free' radio stations, in particular in former Yugoslavia.

"The project has been adapted to 'the new situation' of the Afghan crisis. 'But we will make sure that the radio station maintains its status as an independent radio station,' Mrs Ponorac promised.

"The radio station, which employs six journalists - as many women as men - plans to broadcast for eight hours a day, in Dari and Pashto, the two main spoken languages in Afghanistan. Being in an Islamic country, it will respect the daily prayer times.

"According to its founders, 'the medium of radio is perfectly suited to Afghanistan's situation'. 'You can easily find a radio for less than 10 dollars in a bazaar, as well as batteries,' Mr Grimaldi said.

"However, television is banned, the last televisions which were still on sale in the Kabul bazaar were burnt in public. Electricity, like newsprint, is in very short supply.

"'Ninety-five per cent of Afghans have not even seen pictures of the attacks against the World Trade Center,' said Olivier Ronsin, vice-president of Droit de Parole.

(BBCM via DXLD 01-146)
Radio Sol (Ground Radio)
Long-planned as ab outreach and educational tool for Afghan women the station hit the airwaves during Operation Enduring Freedom, the U.S. and coalition military intervention in October 2001. It was funded by the French media NGO Droit de Parole and supported the Northern Alliance.
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