NIAC Staff

NIAC Staff

NIAC Statement on Repression of Iranian Protests

WASHINGTON DC – In response to reports that Iranian protests, after shooting down a Ukrainian International Airlines passenger plane last week, are being repressed by authorities, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) issued the following statement:

“The National Iranian American Council condemns the Iranian government’s continued use of force against protesters over the weekend, and urges it to take immediate action to uphold its international human rights obligations.

“Many Iranians are rightfully incensed that their government shot down a civilian airliner and killed 176 innocent people, which was compounded by three days of lies to try to cover up the armed forces’ culpability in the shoot down.

“The Iranian people, like everyone, have the right to protest their government without fear of being targeted with lethal force. We reiterate our condemnations of the Iranian government’s ongoing human rights abuses and urge security forces to halt all abuses against protesters and prisoners of conscience.”

Digital Organizer

Washington, DC
Full Time, Exempt

The Digital Organizer is responsible for leading and managing NIAC’s digital advocacy and assisting with communications including member emails, online actions, website, social media, videos, graphics, and other online and printed materials. The Digital Organizer will also responsible for managing the digital engagement of volunteers. The Digital Organizer ensures that all digital content is created and executed in line with the organizations’ brand. They work with the National Organizing Director and senior leadership to devise and implement NIAC’s overarching digital advocacy strategy. The Digital Organizer reports to the Organizing Director and will work very closely with all staff and directors. Specific responsibilities include, but are not limited to, the following:

Visibility and Brand

  • Support the Communications Director in strengthening NIAC’s brand and visibility, while also increasing reach and building membership.
  • Help manage NIAC’s web and social media presence, including the website, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and Medium accounts.
  • Assist in designing collateral materials for various departments (e.g. event flyers, email design, event invitations, etc.)
  • Ensure that all digital materials adhere to NIAC’s brand and image and fits into the organization’s overarching communications and brand strategy.

Digital Content

  • Design, create, and send out NIAC’s bi-weekly newsletter and Iran Unfiltered digest.
  • Design and coordinate emails in consultation with the appropriate department using EveryAction.
  • Publish and disseminate NIAC’s content on the website and social media accounts, in coordination with the Communications Department, utilizing best practices to maximize distribution, reach, and engagement.

Digital Engagement & Outreach

  • Track, analyze, and report on the effectiveness of NIAC’s online engagement campaigns, with the aim of boosting engagement and conversions, helping lead digital fundraising campaigns, and optimizing lead generation
  • Devise and execute digital and social media strategies for campaigns and organizational events, including fundraisers, advocacy efforts, social events, and conferences
  • Coordinate volunteers to execute digital advocacy campaigns. This includes social media, Hustle text, and call campaigns
  • Manage an online listserv of volunteers

General Support

  • Oversee organizing interns
  • Providing general digital communications support to all Directors as needed

Desired Experience:

  • Four plus years of digital communications and marketing experience.
  • Undergraduate degree. Marketing, communications, English, journalism, political science, international relations, or a related field preferred.
  • Experience with HTML, Google Analytics, Microsoft Office, Adobe Creative Suite, and WordPress
  • Familiarity with CRM platforms like EveryAction preferred.
  • Experience with graphic design and multimedia production, including video, strongly preferred.
  • Experience with digital advocacy campaigns preferred
  • Familiarity with NIAC’s mission, the political landscape, and the Iranian-American community preferred
  • Persian language knowledge a plus

Qualities that will thrive in this position:

  • Strong self-starter, entrepreneurial, creative; eager to present new, bold ideas and solutions
  • Willing to do what it takes to get a high quality, polished project done; low ego, high focus on quality, open to honest feedback and collaboration
  • Hard worker, can do flexible hours and manage his/her time independently; understands that changing the nature of U.S-Iran relations and strengthening Iranian Americans’ voice doesn’t always happen between 9 and 5
  • Strong attention to detail, while being able to think strategically and understand the larger vision
  • Works effectively independently and in a team environment
  • Self-motivated, enthusiastic, and creative
  • Ability to manage multiple daily deadlines and multiple assignments
  • Excellent communication and presentation skills
  • Ability to lead, influence, and work across departments 

To Apply: Interested candidates should send a cover letter with salary requirements and resume to Nicole Ataei at nataei@niacouncil.org with the subject line “Digital Organizer.”

Salary & Benefits
Salary is commensurate with experience. Fortune 100-style benefits include:

  • Generous health, dental, vision, long-term disability, and life insurance plans
  • 15 days of annual paid leave and 12 paid holidays
  • 401k with 2% company match
  • Additional benefits through TotalSource benefits partner include: training opportunities, corporate discounts, and Employee Assistance Program

About NIAC
The National Iranian American Council (NIAC) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to strengthening the voice of Iranian Americans and promoting greater understanding between the American and Iranian people. We accomplish our mission through expert research and analysis, civic and policy education, and community building.

We are the 501(c)3 sister organization of NIAC Action, the grassroots, civic action organization committed to building political power for the Iranian-American community to advance peace and diplomacy with Iran, secure equitable immigration policies, and protect the civil rights of all Americans.

NIAC Statement on Ukraine Airliner Crash in Iran

Washington DC – In response to reports that Ukrainian Flight P752 may have been shot down, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) issued the following statement:

Our hearts are with the families and friends of the many victims of the crash in Iran, Canada, Ukraine and Europe. It is hard to imagine the pain that they are going through.

“They deserve answers as soon as possible, and we urge all observers to avoid exploiting this tragedy for political purposes before the facts are established. We encourage the Iranian government to comply fully with an independent and impartial investigation.

“We also encourage the Trump administration to expedite the licensing for Boeing to participate in the investigation as requested by the the Civil Aviation Organization of Iran.”

Statement of Coalition of Iranian-American Organizations on Border Detentions

Reports of Mass Detentions of Iranians and Iranian Americans at the Washington/Canada Border 

January 6, 2020

We write to share extremely disconcerting news, and to share important information with you regarding new immigration incidents affecting Iranian Americans and Iranians in the U.S.  Please read the below carefully and share this information with your friends and family. 

What We Know And Don’t Know 

Over the last 36 hours, there have been alarming reports of more than 60 Iranians and Iranian-Americans being detained at length and questioned by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at the Peace Arch Border in Washington State/Canadian border.  Many of the individuals detained were U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents, including some of whom were returning after a short day trip from Seattle to Vancouver. Upon arrival, individuals were given an orange card, their passports were taken away and were directed to wait. After being detained for extended periods of time, some as many as 10 hours, the individuals were subjected to extensive questioning, during which they were asked invasive inquiries, such as their family and employment histories, and questions about the individuals’ and even their parents’ military service in Iran.  In cases where families arrived together, and one family member was of Iranian origin, the entire family was kept for questioning. Some families detained for extended periods were told that they had to undergo a background check, which needed to be cleared by Washington DC. Due to the large number of individuals arriving at the Peace Arch Border, and the long delays in processing, individuals were turned away and asked to return at a later time.

While our investigation has revealed the foregoing, there is still much we do not know. Across the country, we are hearing conflicting reports of Iranians and Iranian Americans being detained and questioned at other airports, while others are being admitted with minimal questioning.  As of now, it is unclear if there is a national directive from CBP to detain individuals with Iranian heritage. CBP has denied that there is a national directive, and CBP officers have indicated that, due to heightened security, they are conducting full background checks on individuals who are “suspicious or adversarial.”  However, given the reports received, including both geographically and of individuals being detained, further confirmation is required to determine if this is a localized or national directive.

Community Resources

As we continue to investigate and gather information, if you, your family, or your friends are traveling, and have been detained and questioned, please fill out our confidential intake form.

Know Your Rights

Despite the current political climate, Iranian Americans who are U.S. citizens, “green card holders” (also called “lawful permanent residents” or “LPRs”), and visa holders have rights at the border. Absent specific indicia of credible threats by specific individuals, your rights for being questioned and searched at the border have not changed. If you are traveling or have family and friends that are traveling, please review the Iranian-American Community Advisory- Know Your Rights at the Border and Airport available in English and Farsi. Please help us disseminate this information, as it may help your family, friends, and loved ones. 

We Are Here To Help

As a coalition of Iranian American organizations, we are committed to the community of Iranians and Iranian Americans in the U.S., and your families.  We will continue to investigate and monitor this troubling development, will provide you information and updates, and will continue to fight to protect your and your families’ rights and interests. Additionally, we will continue working with, and advocating before, our elected representatives and allies, not only to get to the bottom of what is happening, but to seek remedies to resolve it. Please stay tuned.   

For additional information, you may contact:

Iranian Alliances Across Borders, Mana Kharrazi (mana@iranianalliances.org
Iranian American Bar Association, Ramin Montazeri (ram7nyc@gmail.com
National Iranian American Council, Donna Faravard (dfarvard@niacouncil.org
Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans, Ali Rahnama (Ali.Rahnama@paaia.org)

NIAC’s 2019 Reflections

End of year message from NIAC President, Jamal Abdi:

I could not be more proud to be part of the organization that is fighting in the trenches every single day to advance the interests and protect the rights of the Iranian-American community and our allies that support peace, civil rights, and fair immigration.

Despite the many challenges our community faced in 2019, we achieved a lot and are setup for success in 2020. None of our accomplishments happen in a vacuum – they are the result of the hard work of NIAC’s staff members, board, and volunteers; the contributions of our supporters, and the alliances we have with our friends at J Street, ACLU, Iranian American Bar Association, and our network of partner organizations large and small.

From acting as a trusted voice on U.S.-Iran relations, to pushing forth legislation that protects us from systematic discrimination, to celebrating our culture and heritage, together we are making a lasting impact for our community and for all Americans. 

Our victories are your victories–and your support ensures we can continue building the political power needed to champion our community’s priorities into 2020 and beyond. 

Read on for just a few of the many wins we collectively secured in 2019:

 

BUILDING POLITICAL POWER

The 2020 election may be the most critical one of our lifetime. By engaging our community in the policymaking and electoral processes, and organizing our resources through political giving and volunteering, we are building a future in which our community’s interests are represented all across the U.S. In 2019, we doubled down on building political power by:

 

ADVANCING PEACE & DIPLOMACY

11,944. That’s how many messages NIAC members sent to their elected officials in 2019 demanding they block Trump’s path to war. An empowered Iranian-American community can advance policies that incentivize peace and diplomacy across the global stage. In 2019, our fight to advance peace & diplomacy included:

 

SECURING EQUITABLE IMMIGRATION

Immigrants are what makes America great and are the cornerstone of the inclusivity, justice, and equality necessary to keep the American dream alive. Ensuring that Iranians have the same opportunities as other nationals key to protecting diversity. This year, we worked to secure equitable immigration by:

 

PROTECTING CIVIL RIGHTS

This country’s founders enshrined the inalienable rights of all people in our Constitution and Americans have fought for generations to secure and protect those rights. Our community faced numerous setbacks to our basic civil rights this year, but we took on the battles to preserve our rights by:

 

SPOTLIGHTING HUMAN RIGHTS IN IRAN

Raising up the struggles faced by Iranian human rights defenders and holding the Iranian government to human rights standards is essential to building a future in which the U.S. and Iran enjoy positive relations. As an American organization, NIAC does not have a role to play in the domestic affairs of Iran–but we do have an obligation to support human rights standards to which the U.S. and Iran are party. Our initiatives in 2019 included: 

 

COMMUNITY & CULTURE

NIAC takes immense pride in the rich tapestry that makes up the Iranian-American community and culture. Our heritage provides us common ground to grow as a community and support one another as we trailblaze in the U.S. Our community & culture initiatives this year include:

 

NIAC Panel at University of Denver on Trump’s Middle East Policy

On December 11, NIAC’s Colorado chapter held its first ever public event, a panel discussion at the University of Denver’s Korbel School of International Studies that examined Trump’s Middle East foreign policy. Denver University Center for Middle East Studies Director Nader Hashemi moderated the discussion between former US Ambassador Gary Grappo, University of Denver professor Micheline Ishay, and NIAC Senior Research Analyst Sina Toossi.

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The diverse, standing-room-only crowd in attendance was a testament to the important role NIAC can fulfill in educating a Denver community greatly interested in topics important to both Iranian Americans and the public at large. The successful event was the result of a collaboration between NIAC, the Center for Middle East Studies, and WorldDenver—all three of whom look forward to working together in the future

NIAC Statement on Verdict in Shayan Mazroei’s Murder Case

In response to the 2nd Degree guilty verdict handed to white supremacist Craig Tanber for his role in the murder of 22-year-old Iranian American Shayan Mazroei, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) released the following statement:

“Four years ago, a 22-year old Iranian-American, Shayan Mazroei, was stabbed to death at a bar in Laguna Niguel. The senseless and violent death of Shayan has been felt by a community shaken by such racially motivated hate, but the real tragedy is for Shayan’s family and loved ones, for his parents who continue to grieve the loss of their son everyday.

“Though Tanber was found guilty on 2nd degree murder charges, justice is incomplete, as Shayan’s death was a clear case of hate based on his Iranian heritage. Tanber, a white supremacist, verbally assaulted Shayan using racial slurs and attacking his Iranian background. As the evidence in the case showed, Tanber waited to attack Shayan with a knife after an initial verbal assault. For these reasons the Mazroei family justifiably sought hate crime charges.

“Against the principles of justice, Tanber was not charged with a hate crime, despite the evidence showing that he was motivated to kill Shayan because of his Iranian heritage. Though a 1st degree murder charge would have been more deserving, we hope the 2nd degree guilty verdict may bring some justice to a family still in mourning.

“Nothing can truly right such a crime, as no verdict will bring Shayan back to his family. Any life taken, especially so young is a tragedy, but to be taken because of racism and hate is beyond words. We must continue to fight against all forms of hate in order to prevent these heinous crimes. Today, our hearts are with the Mazroei family, in hopes that this partial justice will in some way ease their pain.”

 

NIAC Statement on the Exclusion of Khanna-Gaetz Amendment from NDAA

In response to the release of the FY2020 National Defense Authorization Act conference report, in which the Khanna-Gaetz amendment to prevent an unauthorized war with Iran was not included, Ryan Costello, Policy Director for the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), issued the following statement:

“This summer, we came ten minutes from Trump launching an unauthorized war against Iran. The Trump administration’s dangerous and escalatory Iran policy prompted bipartisan majorities in the Senate and House to declare that Trump does not have the authority to launch a disastrous war of choice. Reps. Ro Khanna and Matt Gaetz, along with Sens. Tim Kaine and Tom Udall, deserve tremendous credit for their timely and important work to pass an amendment clarifying that there is no authorization for war with Iran out of the House and securing a majority of support in the Senate.

“However, the NDAA conference report released last night after months of negotiations senselessly dropped the Khanna-Gaetz amendment from the bill despite an overwhelming bipartisan vote (251-170) in favor in the House. 

“Unfortunately, there is still a massive gap between the American people – who do not want another disastrous war of choice in the Middle East – and their leaders in Washington who have pulled out all the stops to keep a Trump war with Iran on the table. Particularly as the administration considers adding thousands more troops to the region with a vague mission of deterring Iran, failing to include the Khanna-Gaetz amendment in the final NDAA is legislative malpractice.”

NIAC Statement on Release of Xiyue Wang

  FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Saturday, December 7, 2019 

       CONTACT: Mana Mostatabi | 202.386.6325 x103 | mmostatabi@niacouncil.org

Washington DC – Today, reports emerged that Chinese American Xiyue Wang was freed in a prisoner exchange following three years of unjust detention in Iran. 

In response, President of the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) Jamal Abdi issued the following statement:

“We are overjoyed that Xiyue Wang will soon be reunited with his wife and son after more than three years of unjust detention in Iran. Wang, a graduate student of Princeton, had traveled to Iran to study archives and improve his Persian language skills – yet was unjustly detained by state security services and used as a pawn in geopolitical battles. This detention robbed Wang of his freedom and his family, depriving him of years with his wife and son. 

“Wang’s release coincides with the release from prison of Masoud Soleimani, an Iranian scientist imprisoned in the U.S. on sanctions violations last year. There is a clear playbook for securing the release of imprisoned Americans in Iran. We hope the Trump administration continues to utilize engagement to secure the release of others detained or gone missing in Iran, including Robert Levinson, Siamak and Baquer Namazi and Michael White.

“The Trump administration deserves credit for setting aside its hesitation to engage Iran on its oft-repeated offer to negotiate a prisoner swap. Diplomacy, not pressure and saber rattling, is the playbook that has succeeded in securing the release of individuals unjustly imprisoned in Iran and altered Iran’s security calculus on the nuclear file. We hope that this is just the beginning of the administration’s engagement with Iran. The President can secure long sought-after diplomatic wins by setting aside maximum pressure and investing in diplomacy, as we encouraged along with numerous experts in July. The Swiss government deserves tremendous credit, as well, for once again serving as facilitator between the U.S. and Iran.

“NIAC reiterates its call on the Iranian government to release all foreign citizens, like Wang, who were detained on bogus charges and allow them to reunite with their families. Moreover, Iran must uphold its international human rights obligations and release all prisoners of conscience – including thousands who were arrested for involvement in protests last month.”

 

#IAFilmmakers Series: Celebrating Iranian-American Filmmakers

Films are a universal medium, a way to communicate across groups, barriers, and borders. They are simultaneously an expression of an individual person and a collective group. Though set in different places and spoken in different languages, films have the power to captivate and connect people in moving ways. Despite the Iranian government’s restrictions and censorship on art, Iranian cinema has played a significant role in elucidating Iranian culture and contemporary life to audiences worldwide.


Iranian Man Arrested in Sweden for Alleged Role in 1988 Mass Executions

The Associated Press reported today that an Iranian man has been detained in Sweden on suspicion of taking part in mass executions that occurred in Iran in the summer of 1988. Though exact numbers are unknown, estimates for the executions range from 3,000-5,000 killed in the span of four weeks in prisons across Iran. 

The timing of the mass executions coincided with then Supreme Leader Khomeini’s decision to accept the UN ceasefire that ended the long and bloody Iran-Iraq war (1980-88). The Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK), a fringe Iranian opposition group, fought on the side of Saddam Hussein and continued their fight despite the ceasefire. Iranian authorities used the attacks and misdeeds of the MEK as a pretext to eliminate, in mass, political prisoners of all stripes, including former MEK.

The origins of the MEK in Iran in the 1960’s was a guerilla group resisting the authoritarian rule of the Shah, but most of its original leaders and founders had been killed by the time of the revolution. Their historical evolution to a cultish opposition group is complex. As historian Ervand Abrahamian notes [1], by 1987 the MEK “had its own revered leader…a rigid hierarchy in which instructions flowed from above…its own dress code and physical appearance” and “the burning conviction that its own radical version of Shiism was the one and only true interpretation of Islam.” 

Upon ending the war with Iraq, Iranian special courts were set up to purge the country of dissent and instill fear in all political rivals. Former MEK were targeted, but political prisoners of all backgrounds suffered the same fate in a horrifying mass killing, in a brazen show of disregard for due process or law and order.

Though some officials vocalized their condemnation of this appalling episode, such as Ayatollah Montazeri who resigned in protest, Iranian authorities have never investigated or held culpable any of the criminal participants of the “prison massacre.” Amnesty International has repeatedly called on Iran’s government to do justice by the victims of this massacre and their families, through reparations and by holding to account those who participated in the killings. 

If the man detained in Sweden was a party to this offense, then one small step towards justice has been taken. Ultimately, Iran’s government must stop trying to bury this injustice, undertake meaningful steps to acknowledge this tragedy and hold accountable those complicit in these crimes against humanity.

[1] Abrahamian, Ervand. Radical Islam : The Iranian Mojahedin. London: I.B. Tauris, 1989. Print.