February 19, 2010 "Voices from Afghanistan" Reception on Feb. 23 Marks Exhibition Opening And Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Acquisition

Press Contact: Audrey Fischer, Library of Congress (202) 707-0022 | Ari Goldberg, RFE/RL (202) 494-0388

WHAT: The Library of Congress, in cooperation with Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), will celebrate the opening of the “Voices from Afghanistan” exhibition with a private reception and preview of the display. The event also marks the recent gift from RFE/RL to the Library's African and Middle Eastern Division of a collection comprising 15,000 letters from listeners of Radio Azadi (RFE/RL’s Afghan Service).

WHEN: The event is open to invited guests and members of the press on Tuesday, Feb. 23, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

WHERE: The Members of Congress Room, located on the first floor of the Library’s Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First Street S.E., Washington, D.C.

WHO: Librarian of Congress James H. Billington and RFE/RL President Jeffrey Gedmin will open the exhibition. Ambassador Said Tayeb of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan will make remarks. Other participants include Rep. Howard L. Berman (D-Calif.) and Rep. Edward R. Royce (R-Calif.).


In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, the U.S. Congress appropriated funds for RFE/RL to begin "surrogate broadcasting services in the Dari and Pashto languages to Afghanistan" (Public Law 107-148). Since that time, the station known locally as Radio Azadi has become the most popular source of news in Afghanistan, offering information, political satire, literary and music programming. For the past eight years, from every corner of Afghanistan, “fan mail” from Radio Azadi's listeners have made their way to RFE/RL's headquarters in Prague.

Among the 50 items selected for display at the Library of Congress are letters from schoolchildren describing the conditions in their schools, young people writing love poems to their significant others, villagers complaining about corrupt officials, prisoners asking for prison reform, refugees describing their plight and older people discussing life and work in Afghanistan decades ago. Many of the letters are illustrated with floral and animal designs reminiscent of an earlier tradition. The display will also include items from the Library's Middle Eastern collections, including 17th-, 18th- and 19th-century manuscripts from Afghanistan that mirror the style of recently acquired letters from the region.

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) is an independent, international news and broadcast organization whose programs—radio, Internet and television––reach influential audiences in 20 countries such as Russia, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan and the republics of Central Asia. RFE/RL is funded by the U.S. Congress through the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG). For more information, visit the website at www.rferl.org.

Founded in 1800, the Library of Congress is the nation's oldest federal cultural institution. The Library seeks to spark imagination and creativity and to further human understanding and wisdom by providing access to knowledge through its magnificent collections, programs and exhibitions. Many of the Library's rich resources can be accessed through its website at www.loc.gov and via interactive exhibitions on a personalized website at myLOC.gov.

The Library’s African and Middle Eastern Division www.loc.gov/rr/amed/ is the center for the study of some 78 countries and regions from Southern Africa to the Maghreb and from the Middle East to Central Asia.


PR 10-034
ISSN 0731-3527