Washington, D.C., January 15, 2010 – Iran's former Consul General in Norway, who resigned his post to protest his government's treatment of demonstrators, told the Voice of America (VOA) he quit to show his support for his countrymen.
"When I watched what has been happening in Iran … I thought, 'I want to join the people of my country, and tell them, inside and outside Iran, that I support them and I am hoping for the same changes they are,'" Mohammed Reza Heydari said in an exclusive interview with VOA's Persian News Network (PNN) in Oslo.
Heydari also called on fellow Iranian diplomats to follow his lead. "They should resign to support the Iranian people," he said. "Our priority should be the best interests of the people, not our own personal interests."
Heydari said he made his decision to resign after watching the Iranian government's recent treatment of demonstrators in Tehran, particularly during the religious holiday, Ashura.
"They decided to use force and brutality against people and recently started to terrorize people with explosions inside Iran," he said.
Heydari was in seclusion from the time he resigned late last week until Jan. 14, 2010. His gave his first interview for an Iranian audience to PNN.
VOA's PNN (www1.voanews.com/persian/news) has the largest combined radio and television audience in Iran of all international broadcasters, with one in four adult Iranians tuning into a VOA program at least once a week. VOA broadcasts seven hours of television daily, repeated in a 24-hour format, and five hours of radio. Broadcasts are available round-the-clock on the Internet.
The Voice of America, which first went on the air in 1942, is a multimedia international broadcasting service funded by the U.S. Government through the Broadcasting Board of Governors. VOA broadcasts more than 1,500 hours of news, information, educational, and cultural programming every week to an estimated worldwide audience of more than 125 million people. Programs are produced in 45 languages and are intended exclusively for audiences outside of the United States.
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