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.”
Although some Iranian dissidents have argued against the accord, they are outnumbered by Iranians abroad as well as inside Iran (among them many political and civil society activists) who believe that the nuclear agreement will not only end a prolonged conflict that carries the risk of war but also pave the way for positive change inside Iran and the region. 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