Dissidents Join Iranian Majority in Supporting Nuclear Deal

by Jasmin Ramsey

Seventy-four prominent Iranians living abroad who self-identify as opponents or critics of the Iranian government have signed the following letter urging Congress to support the nuclear agreement with Iran. Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi and journalist Maziar Bahari, both former political prisoners, are among the endorsees along with academics, civil society and human rights activists, lawyers, and other professionals. Many of these Iranians have gone into exile because of their political activism and the Islamic Republic’s domestic policies. They believe that the deal, in addition to resolving the dangerous nuclear conflict, will “energize the struggle for democracy in Iran.”

Some Iranian dissidents have argued against the accord. Meanwhile, earlier this month a large group of Iranian-Americans, including various celebrities and tech executives, also endorsed the deal. Several social media campaigns are actively working to drive home this message.

The well-funded campaign lobbying Congress to reject the deal has almost completely omitted Iranian voices from the debate even when it claims to speak for Iranians. But Iranians at home and abroad, who understand their country far better than Congress ever will, are speaking loudly and clearly. It’s long past time to listen to them.

Letter to the Congress of the United States

We, the undersigned, are Iranian dissidents living abroad. Many of us have been forced into exile because of our criticism of the Islamic Republic’s autocratic practices and violation of human rights. We advocate democratic pluralism, diplomatic resolution of Iran’s conflicts with the United States, peaceful relations with all nations and strict adherence to the Non-Proliferation Treaty.  We are writing to urge you to approve the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) because the agreement, in addition to resolving a dangerous dispute, has the potential to energize the struggle for democracy in Iran.  Normal trade relations between Iran and Western countries may lead, however gradually, to a tangible relaxation of tension in Iran’s relations with America and Europe.  It can also help the resolution of crises in the Persian Gulf region.

We believe such developments should encourage Western governments to include serious support for human rights as they engage Iran in trade and investment negotiations.  Movement toward normalization of Iran’s international relations could make the naming and shaming of the regime’s mistreatment of political dissidents, civil society forces (women in particular) and religious/ethnic minorities more effective. At least it has a relatively better prospect in comparison to the continuation of the nuclear confrontation. Furthermore, the JCPOA has considerable Capacity to meet the proliferation concern of P5+1 (or US congress) via its provisions to close all paths towards militarization of nuclear program of the IRI under IAEA comprehensive supervision.

The unanimous passage of Resolution 2231 by the United Nations Security Council endorsing JCPOA demonstrates strong and widespread international support for the agreement. This unanimity of international support for the initiative has created a new hope across the world that dangerous conflicts among sovereign nations can be resolved through negotiations and diplomacy.

In the absence of an agreement, the threat of a military “solution” may become a reality.  The current Israeli government is depicting such an option as the “last resort.” An attack on Iran, even in the absence of visible Israeli participation, would be a tragedy for both Iran and Israel. Iranians who expect to live in post-Islamist Iran do not see Israel as an adversary. Military action against Iran would change this perspective and plant the seeds of unprecedented animosity between the two countries.  U. S. policy makers who care about the security of Israel must cool down the rhetoric of military option and devote serious attention to resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

We urge you to resist the kind of pressure from those who seem to have learned nothing from the tragic events of the past. We urge you to adopt a new approach to security challenges of the Middle East by casting a vote for JCPOA and announcing your approval of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231. Such a move will constitute a precedent setting contribution to the resolution of international disputes through dialogue and diplomacy.  The irrational animosity between Iran and the United States is a disservice to both nations and a major hindrance to the struggle for democracy in Iran.

List of signers alphabetically arranged:

Mahboubeh Abbasgholizadeh,  CEO & President of Zanan TV and NGO Training Center

Frieda Afary, Producer of “Iranian Progressives in Translation,” and librarian in Los Angeles

Janet Afary, Ph.D., Professor of History and Feminist Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara

Reza Afshari, Ph.D., Professor of History, Pace University

Ali Afshari, Ph.D. candidate in George Washington University, and former member of the central committee of the Students Solidarity Association in Iran

Mehdi Aghadam, Political Activist

Kazem Alamdari, Ph.D., Retired Sociology Faculty of California State University

Mehrdad Amanat, Ph.D., Author and independent scholar

Farid Ashkan, Political Activist

Kazem Attaran, Ph.D., Retired Chief Economist, California Dept. of Transportation.

Maziar Bahari, Author and documentary filmmaker

Mehran Barati, Ph.D. Political Analyst, Future Trends. Berlin, Germany

Behrooz Bayat, Ph.D., Physicist, Expert and Analyst in Nuclear Issues

Soheyla Chahkar, Retired Professional of United Nations Development Program

Mehrdad Darvishpour, Ph.D., Professor of Sociology, Malardelan University, Sweden

Shirin Ebadi, Nobel Laureate for Peace and Human Rights Defense Lawyer

Maryam Elahi, Human rights lawyer

Hassan Yusefi Eshkevari, Scholar of Islamic Studies and former deputy of Majlis (Parliament)

Soraya Fallah, Doctoral Student in Educational Leadership & Policy Studies, California State University, Northridge

Mohsen Farhang, Businessman

Mansour Farhang, Ph.D., Retired Professor of Political Science and holder of Catherine Osgood Chair of Distinguished Teaching, Bennington College

Farzaneh Fathi, Software Engineer- Management, Vienna, Austria

Masoud Fathi, Political activist and publicist, Vienna, Austria

Kambiz Ghaemmagham, National Front activist

Mohsen Ghaemmagham: M.D, National Front activist

Reza Goharzad, Journalist / Radio& TV political show producer and host

Fatemeh Haghighatjoo, Ph.D., Former Deputy of Majlis (parliament), and CEO of Nonviolent Initiative for Democracy, Inc.

Mehrdad Hariri, D.V.M., Toronto, Canada

Nader Hashemi, Ph.D., Director of Center for Middle East Studies, University of Denver

Ata Hoodashtian, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Management Institute of Canada, Montreal

Abdee Kalantari, Freelance writer and critic

Mehrangiz Kar, Author and Human Rights Lawyer

Kazem Kardavani, Ph.D., Sociologist, former professor and director of the Iranian Writers Association

Ahmad Karimi-Hakkak, Ph.D., Professor of Persian Literature and Founding Director, the Roshan Institute for Persian Studies, University of Maryland.

Mahmood Karimi-Hakkak, Ph.D., Professor of Creative Arts, Siena College

Farideh Kioumehr, Ph.D., Founder & Executive Director, International Health & Epidemiology Research Center

Hamid Kowsari, Director of Education, New Technology Training Institute

Mehri Jafari: Human Rights Lawyer

Reza Jafarian, Political activist

Ramin Jahanbegloo, Ph.D., Professor of Philosophy, York University, Canada

Jaleh Lackner-Gohari, M.D. and Human Rights Activist

Abdol-Karim Lahidji, Lawyer and President of FIDH – International Federation for Human Rights

Ali Akbar Mahdi, Ph.D., Department of Sociology, California State University, Northridge

Peyman Malaz, Adjunct Lecturer of Diplomacy and World Affairs Department, Occidental College

Abbas Milani, Ph.D., Director of Iranian Studies Program, Stanford University, Research Fellow, Hoover Institution

Ziba Mir-Hosseini, Ph.D., Centre for Islamic and Middle Eastern Law, SOAS, University of London

Ali Mirsepasi, Ph.D., Professor of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies, New York University.

Ghafoor Mirzai, Writer and Poet, Los Angeles.

Valentine M. Moghadam, Ph.D., M. Moghadam, Professor and Director of International Affairs Program, Director of Middle East Studies Program, Northeastern University, Boston

Bijan Moshaver, Ph.D, Senior Medical Scientist, City Councilor for Dutch Green Party in Netherlands, Chairman Radio Zamaneh

Mani Mostofi, Human Rights Lawyer and Activist

Aliakbar Mousavie, former deputy of Majlis (parliament), and Visiting Fellow at Virginia Tech University.

Majid Naficy, Ph. D, Poet and former editor of the journal of Iranian Writers’ Association in Exile

Shahrir Nowakhtar, CPA, Human Rights Activist, Los Angeles, CA 

Saeed Paivandi, Ph.D., Professeur – Département de Sciences de l’éducation, Université de Lorraine, Paris

Behrooz Parhami, Ph.D., Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of California, Santa Barbara

Kourosh Parsa, Ph.D., President, Parsa Wireless Communications, LLC

Misagh Parsa, Ph.D., Professor of Sociology, Dartmouth College

Noradin Pirmoazen, M. D., former reformist deputy of Majlis (parliament)

Bijan Pirzadeh, M.S. Civil Engineer and Human Rights Activist

Lily Pourzand, LL.M., College Instructor and Women’s Center Manager

Azadah Pourzand, Co-founder and Executive Director, Siamak Pourzand Foundation

Ahmad Sadri, Ph.D., Professor of Sociology and James Gorter Chair of Islamic World Studies, Lake Forest College

Saeed Sanjabi, Political Analyst

Ahmad Salamatian, Former Majlis (parliament) deputy and frequent commentator on BBC/Persian and news media in France

Mahdokht Sanati, President of Iranian Children’s Rights Association.

Hassan Shariatmadari, Scholar in Political and Religious Fields

Ali Taghipour, Political Activist

Mohamad Tavakoli-Targhi, Ph.D., Professor of History, University of Toronto

Nayereh Tohidi, Ph.D., Professor of Gender & Women’s Studies; Director of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies at California State University, Northridge

Farzin Vahdat, Ph.D., Sociologist, Boston, Massachusetts

Hamid Zanganeh, Ph.D., Professor of Economics, Widener University

Arsalan Ziazie, Writer, residing in Los Angeles

Jasmin Ramsey

Jasmin Ramsey is a journalist based in Washington, DC.


One Comment

  1. What an odd list. I guess when you have people who “self identify” you get all sorts. Googling some of these folks turns up some interesting items. For example you would think that a professor of History and Feminist Studies like Janet Afary might have a substantial amount to say about the plight of women in Iran and the suppression of women throughout the Middle East and the sexual enslavement of women by radical Islamist movements, but nope. She hasn’t published on it. I’m also surprised why Trita Parsi’s name doesn’t appear on this version, but does in the version that is on the website for the National Iranian American Council. Might it be that the NIAC has long been criticized as lobbying arm for the Iranian government and his name had to be dropped since few would actually call him an Iranian “dissident” or human rights activist? There are plenty of other examples since this list seems to be a who’s who of folks who have been charitable in their criticisms of the government and most have undergone a transformation since being released from prison. Guess Evin does a good job at reforming folks.

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