CUSIB Executive Director Ann Noonan calls on BBG to reinstate fired Radio Liberty journalists

CUSIB Executive Director Ann Noonan at BBG Feb. 2013 Meeting

CUSIB Executive Director Ann Noonan at BBG Feb. 2013 Meeting

At the end of today’s Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) open meeting in Washington, D.C., Ann Noonan, Executive Director of the Committee for U.S. International Broadcasting (CUSIB – cusib.org), made a short statement as a member of the public, in which she praised the BBG for addressing the Radio Liberty crisis in Russia, welcomed Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty new acting president Kevin Klose and called for the reinstatement of fired Radio Liberty Russian Service journalists.

Noonan mentioned Klose’s meeting in Moscow this week with representatives of the fired journalists and leading Russian human rights activists and democratic politicians.

Noonan  made a reference to an interview with Russian media, in which controversial Radio Liberty’s Russian Service director Masha Gessen attacked Noonan  and the Committee for U.S. International Broadcasting, a U.S.-based NGO. Noonan called it an example of American grass roots democracy at work.

Ann Noonan noted that Radio Liberty in Exile journalists and Russian human rights activists and opposition politicians are planning a major event in Moscow on March 1 to mark the 60th anniversary of Radio Liberty broadcasts to Russia. “We hope that by then the fired journalists will already be part of Radio Liberty’s staff and Russian human rights community will once again support this great media freedom institution,” Ann Noonan said.

Statement to the Broadcasting Board of Governors by Ann Noonan, Executive Director of the Committee for U.S. International Broadcasting (CUSIB)

“Thank you very much for allowing me to make another presentation at a BBG Open Meeting. Hopefully future meetings will allow more members of the public to also participate.

I’d like to say that I was impressed by the fact that my first statement to the BBG triggered a personal attack on me in the Russian media. I am happy that Russians could see grass roots American democracy in action, especially since I was attacked NOT by a supporter of Mr. Putin, but by a top American employee of Radio Liberty.

On behalf of CUSIB, we were very glad that RFE/RL Acting President, Mr. Kevin Klose, a distinguished journalist, was willing and able to meet in Moscow this week with Russian human rights leaders and fired Radio Liberty reporters. We are hopeful that Radio Liberty’s experienced journalists who had been dismissed by the previous management of RFE/RL will be permitted to return — as urged by one of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize nominees Lyudmila Alexeyeva and many other prominent Russian and American media freedom and human rights leaders and experts.

CUSIB is also hopeful that RFE/RL will revise its personnel policies and will settle overseas discrimination lawsuits brought by its former foreign employees in Prague, an Armenian citizen Anna Karapetian, and a Croatian national, Snjezana Pelivan.

I’d like to mention how honored I am to have traveled to DC with Ms. Jing Zhang, President of Women’s Rights in China. Ms. Zhang’s work includes help for child brides, for women who are threatened with forcible abortion, help for abandoned girl orphans, and efforts against trafficking of women and children. I’m sure Ms. Zhang can assure any who are uncertain that for millions of oppressed women around the world, BBG-funded news programs offer valuable information and hope.

There are two other points I’d like to mention about the importance of the news flow to China and Tibet – especially for those who may assume that democracy and human rights are on the horizon:  China’s new leader, Xi Jingpin, announced last month that he opposes reform and that there will be no change, but who knows. The other point is the importance of understanding the desperation of self-immolation in Tibet that has already risen past 100 lives.

In response to the GAO Report, CUSIB remains determined to defend surrogate broadcasters and the VOA at the same time. Both were clearly designed by Congress for very good reasons. Surrogate broadcasters have a special role to play as an alternative to suppressed internal media and they can’t do the job of the Voice of America. By the same token, Congress created surrogate broadcasters because VOA has a different role. CUSIB strongly believes that we need them both.

CUSIB remains ardently opposed to the OIG Report attacking the authority of BBG members and the tremendous efforts of BBG Governor Ambassador Victor Ashe who has made the agency relevant by insisting upon its adherence to its mission and good management.

CUSIB is encouraged by BBG’s latest efforts for better management and greater transparency and for resolving the Radio Liberty crisis in Russia. We extend our best wishes to RFE/RL employees and new Acting President Kevin Klose in connection with the approaching 60th anniversary of Radio Liberty. Radio Liberty in Exile and Russian human rights activists and opposition politicians are planning a major event in Moscow on March 1 to mark the anniversary. We hope that by then the fired journalists will already be part of Radio Liberty’s staff and Russian human rights community will once again support this great media freedom institution.”

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