Ariana Television Network’s 9th Annual ATN Awards in February recognized Afghanistan’s most popular performing artists for their contribution to Afghanistan’s cultural development over the past year. Held in the Istana Budaya (Palace of Culture) in Kuala Lumpur, the event celebrated Afghanistan’s cultural heritage and its role in unifying the country’s global community. Asad Badie, an Afghan entertainer and singer, served as the master of ceremonies for the fourth year. In addition to recognizing current performers, the celebration awarded Lifetime Achievement, Sitara-e-Hunar, and Mardumi honors. This year, ATN introduced the Jawedana Hai Moseqi award, which recognizes an artist’s legacy achievement in Afghan performing arts.
More than 1,000 Afghan artists submitted work for a panel of judges to consider for the ATN awards, and the public voted on the finalists through ATN’s awards website. Ehsan Bayat, ATN chairman, said the event has grown into the “preeminent showcase of Afghan arts and culture” worldwide. This year, more than 45 million television and online viewers were expected to enjoy the show, and more than 800 guests were expected to attend the event, which has become integral to preserving and enhancing Afghanistan’s culture.
Ehsan Bayat, the founder of Ariana Television and Radio and a pioneer in the Afghan telecommunications industry, was honored with the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) human rights award in late 2014. Mr. Bayat has made considerable contributions to improving the lives of people who live in Afghanistan’s rural areas, with a focus on assisting to women, young people, and people who are poor or elderly. Dr. Sima Samar, the chairperson of the AIHRC, presented the award in recognition of the 66th anniversary of the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Ehsan and Fatema Bayat founded the nonprofit Bayat Foundation in 2005 to promote the wellbeing of the Afghan people. The foundation has since worked on more than 200 projects, including building infrastructure and promoting health and education programs. Ehsan Bayat said that he was honored to have received the award and emphasized the “critical need” to ensure equal opportunities for people all over the world. He plans to continue supporting human rights education and protecting the rights of all Afghan people.
Since launching Afghan Wireless Communication Company in 2002, chairman Ehsan Bayat has overseen the delivery of wireless and broadband communication services to approximately 4 million subscribers throughout Afghanistan. Additionally, he serves as chairman of the Bayat Foundation, a global nonprofit dedicated to the well-being and advancement of Afghan citizens. In 2010, the telecommunications entrepreneur received commendation for his extensive humanitarian efforts from both the Afghan-California Business Council and Friends of South Asian American Communities.
The two organizations recognized his service to society with the Mahatma Gandhi Humanitarian Award, which they presented during a ceremony at the Los Angeles Convention Center. The event welcomed a number of prominent community members as guests, including representatives from the offices of Congressman Brad Sherman, Congresswoman Judy Chu, and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.
The Mahatma Gandhi Humanitarian Award recognizes values viewed as central to a peaceful and progressive society, as exemplified by the life and works of Mahatma Gandhi. The award represents a dedication to achieving civil rights via nonviolent means, as well as a firm opposition to tyranny. Mr. Bayat’s extensive efforts to serve disadvantaged communities throughout Afghanistan have included educational, civic, economic, and health care initiatives that seek to improve quality of life and encourage national growth. In leading the humanitarian activities of the Bayat Foundation, he has spearheaded the development of more than 200 projects, including new schools, orphanages, hospitals, recreational facilities, and religious centers.