#ICYMI: NIAC’s Annual Sapphire Gala in Los Angeles

On September 21st, NIAC was pleased to host its annual Sapphire Gala in Los Angeles. The evening was marked by an outstanding group of NIAC friends and allies, exceptional speakers, food and entertainment, and, of course, some laughter and levity, thanks to our master of ceremony, Iranian-American comedian K-von

We had the pleasure of hearing not one, but two incredible Congresswomen who work everyday to champion the priorities of the Iranian-American community and the progressive values our country so deserves. NIAC Research Fellow, Dr. Assal Rad, after remarks of her own, welcomed Congresswoman Katie Porter (CA-45) to the stage.

Congresswoman Porter regaled the audience with the importance of holding the White House accountable and with her experiences working with the Iranian-American community. She has been integral in the fight to protect our community against the discriminatory Muslim Ban. Moreover, she remains an ardent proponent of advancing peace and diplomacy by preventing war with Iran and advocating for the United States to return to the Iran nuclear deal.

NIAC President Jamal Abdi also took to the stage to share his own story: his family’s immigrant journey, navigating being Iranian and American, and underscoring the importance of our community doing everything possible to build the political power we need to secure our seat at the table. 

We were proud to give Congresswoman Maxine Waters (CA-48) NIAC’s first ever Courage Award. NIAC Board Member Siobhan Amin presented Congressman Waters with the award for her commitment to peace, equality, and justice. In today’s political environment, she has been an oasis of the sound policy needed to ensure our children and all future generations can live in a more peaceful world. We are fortunate to call Congresswoman Waters our friend and ally and to have had such an amazing keynote speaker captivate the room with her story about fighting for the foundational values of this country.

All of us at NIAC are so grateful to have the incredible support of our community. Even in the hardest times, we find strength through solidarity. This year has been marked by a flurry of politics that have impacted our community in undeniable ways. Only together—and of course assisted sometimes by good food, amazing friends, and powerful words—can we build political power for the Iranian-American community and ensure our voices are heard all across the country, from Los Angeles to New York to Washington DC. 

And make sure to check out our events page to learn more about our upcoming galas in Washington DC and San Francisco!

United Nations Special Rapporteur Report on Human Rights in Iran

The United Nations Special Rapporteur’s (SR) report on the situation of human rights in Iran was released on August 16th. The following is a brief summary and analysis of Javaid Rehman’s report. The full text of the report can be found here

  • The flash floods in March-April 2019 devastated millions of Iranians, resulting in everything from displacement to infrastructure damage and harm to the agricultural sector.
  • U.S. sanctions have devastated ordinary Iranians, triggered currency devaluation, and suffocated Iranian traders and businesses. This has resulted in increased inflation and austerity, which in turn exacerbated rising unemployment levels, poverty, and further limited the Iranian people’s access to health, education and other basic services.
  • Freedom of expression in Iran remains a major issue, as do violations to the right to life, liberty, due process, and fair trials. The judiciary continues to implement the death penalty, including with regard to child offenders.
  • Human rights activists and defenders, journalists, and women continue to be targeted, intimidated, harassed, and face unjust charges of acting against national security, among other tenuous charges.
  • Iran’s religious and ethnic minorities, including members of the Baha’i, Christian, Azeri, and Kurdish communities, are continually targeted and prevented from fully celebrating their culture, religion, and language.
  • While the number of executions has dropped, Iran still has one of the world’s highest execution rates. Though amending the anti-narcotics law helped to mitigate this, vague, politically driven charges like ‘moharebeh’ that carry the risk of the death penalty continue to exacerbate the issue.
  • Iran’s government must adhere to its obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). Iran’s government must take seriously the Special Rapporteur’s current and previous recommendations–including his request to enter Iran on monitoring visits.

Sanctioning Iran’s Climate

REUTERS/Morteza Nikoubazl (IRAN ENVIRONMENT TRANSPORT)

Emblazoned across the jerseys of Iran’s 2014 World Cup soccer team is a symbol of national pride: the endangered Asiatic cheetah. Iranian conservationists have worked for years to reverse the cat’s dwindling population, and sadly their critical efforts are hampered by forces both in and outside of Iran. The world celebrated Earth Day on April 22, 2019 with its theme Protect Our Species; a reminder of the devastating impacts of climate change for species unable to adapt.

Iran’s climate change struggles are nothing new. Eager to develop infrastructure and technology as a way of catalyzing immediate economic benefits, the government paid little attention to long-term environmental impacts. Domestically, the Iranian government is failing to tackle this challenge and instead persecutes environmental conservations, which serves to further damage the environmental movement. On an international scale, additional US sanctions also continue to hamper Iranian efforts to combat current and future effects of climate change.

Iran needs a portfolio of solutions to approach climate change—one grounded in a re-evaluation of its resource management practices, and bolstered by international assistance. Until both domestic and international policies are overhauled, the fate of Iran’s changing climate and its people, looks grim.

Read more on MENASource from the Atlantic Council.

NIAC Responds to Reports that Trump May Designate IRGC as a Foreign Terrorist Organization

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday, April 5, 2019
CONTACT: Mana Mostatabi | 202.386.6325 x103 | mmostatabi@niacouncil.org

WASHINGTON, DC – Moments ago, reports emerged that the Trump Administration would potentially designate Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a Foreign Terrorist Organization.

In response, NIAC President Jamal Abdi said:

“This potential designation isn’t about adding pressure on the IRGC, one of the most heavily sanctioned entities on the planet that has arguably benefitted more than anyone from U.S. sanctions. It is a well-advertised step in the playbook of Washington hawks who seek to provoke Iran into leaving the nuclear deal and sow the seeds of an eventual military conflict with Iran.

“This is a step long cautioned against by the Pentagon, which wants a clear division between state militaries—which the IRGC is, however detestable its actions—and terrorist organizations. Trump’s team clearly sees the clock on their Iran agenda expiring—which makes their approach ever more escalatory and dangerous. There is an urgent need for Congress to rein Trump in on Iran before he can start a war that will devastate the U.S., Iran, and the Middle East for generations to come.”

MEDIA AVAILABILITY: Experts Available to Discuss U.S.-Led Warsaw Summit on Iran

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Mana Mostatabi – 202.386.6319, mmostatabi@niacouncil.org 
Jamal Abdi, President – 202.386.6408, jabdi@niacouncil.org
Ryan Costello, Policy Director – 202.386.6319, rcostello@niacouncil.org  
Dr. Assal Rad, Policy Analyst – 949.294.6652, arad@niacouncil.org 
Sina Toossi, Research Associate – 217.552.3950, stoossi@niacouncil.org

Washington, D.C. – Experts from the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) will be available to media to offer analysis of the joint U.S.-Poland summit, billed as a conference focused on Iran as well as broader peace and security issues in the Middle East.

The U.S.-proposed Warsaw Summit was initially conceived of as an arena for pressuring Iran. However, the U.S. broadened the scope of the meeting to encompass all of the Middle East after European allies raised concerns over the intention of the summit, and after it became clear that an Iran-focused conference would only serve to highlight the growing rift between the U.S. and Western Europe.

The Warsaw Summit will take place on February 13-14, 2019.

NIAC analysts available in Washington, DC and Southern California:

Jamal Abdi is President of the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) and the Executive Director of NIAC Action. He leads NIAC’s advocacy and education on civil rights and immigration issues, as well as diplomacy with Iran. He formerly served as Policy Advisor on foreign affairs, immigration, and defense issues in the U.S. Congress. Abdi has written for The New York Times, CNN, Foreign Policy, and blogs at The Huffington Post.  He is a frequent guest contributor in print, radio, and television, including appearances on Al Jazeera, NPR, and BBC News. Follow Jamal on Twitter: @jabdi

Ryan Costello joined NIAC in April 2013 as a Policy Fellow and now serves as Policy Director. In this role, Ryan monitors legislation, conducts research and writing, and coordinates advocacy efforts on civil rights and U.S.-Iran policy. Ryan previously served as a Program Associate at the Connect U.S. Fund, where he focused on nuclear non-proliferation policy. He has published in American Foreign Policy Interests, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, CNN GPS, Foreign Policy, The Hill, Huffington Post and Roll Call. Ryan graduated from American University’s School of International Service with a Master of Arts in U.S. Foreign Policy, and from Ursinus College where he majored in history and international relations. Follow Ryan on Twitter: @RN_Costello

Mana Mostatabi joined NIAC in January 2019 as Communications Director. Over the last decade, Mana has worked in policy and communications roles at a number of organizations focused on everything from human rights in the Middle East to nuclear non-proliferation policy as related to Iran. She graduated from Georgetown University in 2017 with a Masters of Science in Foreign Service, with a concentration in Global Politics and Security. Mana also served as the Executive Editor of the Georgetown Journal of International Affairs. She earned a Bachelors of Arts from the University of California, Santa Barbara in Literature and Professional Editing & Writing. Follow Mana on Twitter: @mostlymana

Dr. Assal Rad graduated with a PhD in Middle Eastern History from the University of California, Irvine in 2018. Her PhD research focused on Modern Iran, with an emphasis on national identity formation and identity in post-revolutionary Iran. Assal works with the policy team on research and writing related to Iran policy issues and U.S.-Iran relations. Assal joined the National Iranian American Council as a Policy Analyst and Regional Organizer for the Western U.S. in January 2019. After working with NIAC in California as a volunteer on election and voting campaigns in 2018, Assal joined the team in order to further this work and embolden the voices of Iranian Americans. In this role, Assal works to organize Iranian Americans around issues that affect the community. Follow Assal on Twitter: @AssalRad

Sina Toossi joined the National Iranian American Council as a Research Associate in July 2018. Sina conducts research and writing on U.S.-Iran relations, Iranian politics, and Middle East policy issues. Previously, he was a research specialist at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, where he focused on nuclear and security policy issues related to the Middle East. Sina has been published in Newsweek, The National Interest, The Huffington Post, The Washington Quarterly, and more. He holds an MA in international affairs from American University’s School of International Service. He completed his bachelor’s degree at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he double majored in economics and political science. Follow Sina on Twitter: @SinaToossi

Recent NIAC publications and media appearances:

About NIAC
The National Iranian American Council (NIAC) is a 501(c)(3) nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing the interests of the Iranian-American community. NIAC’s mission is focused on promoting an active and engaged Iranian-American community, supporting aspirations for human rights and democracy in Iran, opposing war between the US and Iran, and celebrating our community’s deep cultural heritage. NIAC accomplishes its mission by supplying the resources, knowledge and tools to enable greater civic participation by Iranian Americans and informed decision-making by policymakers.

For more information, please visit www.niacouncil.org.