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VOA's Voices: Hamed Hosseini - 2002-03-11


HAMED HOSSEINI, VOA's AUDIO SERIVICES

At the time of the communist coup d'etat in Afghanistan, Hamed Hosseini was Deputy Director of Information in the Afghan Ministry for Foreign Affairs. His family antecedents were highly suspect to the communists - his father had been an ambassador and a cabinet minister, his mother and wife were connected to the royal family. But since his education and diplomatic skills were useful, upon being expelled from the Foreign Ministry Hamed was allowed to work in various less visible and sensitive positions in the Ministry of Justice. The fate of many of his acquaintances and colleagues was not so lucky, as the communists summarily executed the President and his family, and then executed or imprisoned many of the political leaders of the country.

His life before the communists came to power had been that of the middle-class, educated Afghans. There were postings to Afghan embassies abroad, in Turkey and London. For entertainment the family would see films, visit family and friends, watch or participate in sports events. At times there were picnics in the countryside with the extended family, including men, women and children. At this time the compulsory use of the veil by women had already been abolished in Afghanistan, and women living in the major cities wore Western clothing. While in the countryside many Afghan women still wore the veil (called "Chaduri" or "Burqa"), women visiting the countryside were not looked at askance for not being covered head to toe.

When the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in December 1979, Hamed Hosseini whose home overlooked Kabul Airport, observed the arrival of Soviet airplanes carrying armor, motorized vehicles, artillery, and elite forces to Kabul. Thousands of Soviet "military technicians", and pervasive Soviet influence, followed.

On July 4, 1980 Hamed, his wife, two children and his elderly mother fled Afghanistan with the help of smugglers who after the communist take-over had branched out into smuggling people out of the country, in addition to the medicines, electronic equipment and other goods that they usually smuggled to Pakistan. The escape route was from Kabul to the town of Para Chinar in Pakistan, by taxi, bus, truck and on foot. But the goal was always America.

Not long after arriving in the United States, in 1981 Hamed Hosseini joined the Dari Service of the Voice of America. His greatest satisfaction was providing his listeners with information that would be useful and practical to them in their lives. Following a cutback in the Dari service, Hamed was transferred to Audio Services, where he joined a staff that serves the entire Voice of America by providing sound and actualities for the news and features VOA broadcasts in English and 53 other languages.

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