Hill Event: Iran’s Ethno Religious Minorities Under Siege

In the past few months, the Government of Iran has carried out an increasing number of human rights violations, including large-scale and arbitrary arrests and disappearances, incommunicado detention, as well as torture and severe punishments, including amputations and flogging.


Rights Watch, Inc. (KHRW)
Leadership Council for Human Rights (LC4HR)

Cordially invite you to

Iran’s Ethno-Religious Minorities Under Siege
Monday May 23rd 2011
12:00 – 1:00 PM
Rayburn House Office Building
Room B-340

Hosted by
Kathryn Cameron Porter, the Founder and President of LC4HR
Dr. Pary Karadaghi, President, KHRW

Mustafa Hijri, the General Secretary of Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (PDKI)
Dr. Leila Milani, the co-founder and Executive Director of Iran Rooyan
Dr. Karim Abdian, the Representative of Congress of Nationalities for Federal Iran in the US
Carol Prunhuber, Prunhuber journalist and the author of “The Passion and Death of Rahman the Kurd”
Sam Yebri, attorney, civic activist and the President and Co-founder of 30 Years After
Dr. M. Hossein Bor, Attorney, Baluch political and human right activist

To RSVP, please call KHRW at 703-385-3806
or RSVP e-mail to carol@khrw.org, or kurds@khrw.org

Light lunch will be served.

 Iran’s minorities and opposition leaders have suffered many of these reprisals as a direct result of their increased activism and because they have been speaking out against the government’s extensive record of human rights abuses and violations perpetrated over the past 32 years. Since the early days of the Revolution in Iran in 1979, for example, Iranian regime’s Revolutionary Guards forces staged a campaign of repression and intimidation against the defenseless civilian population, notably against the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (PDKI) resulting in the death of tens of thousands of people. Despite this aggressive policy of the regime that resulted in an imposed war on the Kurdish people in Iran, the PDKI’s attempts to negotiate with the Government of Iran for a settlement on Kurdish autonomy only led to the assassination of the PDKI’s leaders Dr. Abdul Rahman Ghassemlou in1989 and Sadegh Sharafkandi in September 1992 by the mercenaries of the Islamic regime in Iran.

LC4HR and KHRW are increasingly concerned for the security of the community of human rights activists and defenders in Iran, many of whom are facing on-going reprisals for their activism. This small group of courageous Iranian human rights advocates find themselves subject to the mercy of the Iranian government, which is the clear perpetrator of the current crackdown. Numerous prominent human rights advocates, particularly those considered “Kurdish-friendly”, were detained and/or arrested. This number includes: The official reason for their arrests has yet to be released by the Iranian government, and international human rights organizations are requesting that the Iranian government respect the rights of the arrested and detained and allow them due process. Iran was ranked second in the number of executions in 2010 only after China, but Iran still has the highest per capita executions in the world, with many of them political prisoners. The majority of those political prisoners who have been executed in the last several years belong to oppressed nationalities, most notably Kurds.

Despite written constitutional guarantees of equality, individuals belonging to nationalities have been subject to an array of discriminatory laws and practices. Minority leaders may not be appointed (there are no elections) to positions of local government leadership, even within the regions where large minority populations live.

The Iranian regime’s actions will affect the region’s stability as neighboring Iraq and Afghanistan attempt to be rebuilt based on democratic principles. It is imperative that the international community remain attentive to the situation in the Middle East. As the U.S. and international attention is focused on the issue of Iran’s nuclear program, clear and coherent policies should also be developed for Iran that will effectively combat the human rights violations perpetrated against the minority populations of Iran. Grassroots democracy-building, leadership development, and civic engagement programs must be created or expanded to serve all community members, particularly women, youth, students, workers and professional sectors.

To discuss these issues a panel of distinguished guest speakers will attend. Among them are Mustafa Hijri, the General Secretary of Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan, Dr. Karim Abdian, the Representative of Congress of Nationalities for Federal Iran in the US, Carol Prunhuber journalist and the author of “The Passion and Death of Rahman the Kurd”, Dr. Leila Milani, the co-founder and Executive Director of Iran Rooyan, a non-profit organization committed to the advancement of women’s rights in Iran. Dr. M. Hosen Bor is an attorney and Baluchi activist and human rights campaigner. Sam Yebri is an attorney and the president and co-founder of 30 YEARS AFTER, a leading civic action organization promoting the participation of Iranian American Jews in American civic, political and Jewish life.

Guest Speakers:

Mustafa Hijri, General Secretary of Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (PDKI)

Born in Naghaddeh, Western Azerbaijan, he completed the Teachers College of Agriculture in Urumieh in 1963 and obtained his B.A. in Persian Literature at Tehran University in 1970. After teaching at the secondary school and college level for many years, he began his political career as an activist, playing a key role in the mass demonstrations held in 1978 against the Shah’s regime. Mr. Hijri was a candidate for parliamentary elections in the townships of Naghaddeh and Ushnavieh and although he won 90 percent of the votes, the results were later announced null and void by the newly-established Islamic Republic of Iran. In 1979, participating in the 4th Congress of the party, Mr. Hijri was soon chosen as a member of the Political Bureau. Following the assassination of Dr. Ghassemlou on July 13, 1989, Dr. Sharafkandi was appointed General Secretary while Mr. Hijri became Vice-General Secretary of the Political Bureau. When Dr. Sharafkandi was killed on Sept. 17, 1992, Mr. Hijri was appointed as General Secretary and remained in that position until 1995. When the 12th Congress began in December 2000, Mr. Hijri was again chosen as a member of Political Bureau and was elected once again as the Vice-General Secretary. In July 2004, Mr. Hijri was elected General Secretary for the 13th Congress of the PDKI, a position he has held to the present.

Leila Milani, JD, MA – Leila has worked on the promotion and protection of human rights at the State Department, Congress, at the White House and at the UN. Over the past decade she has worked on the re-authorization of the Violence Against Women Act in the United States, chaired the National Working Group on the Ratification of CEDAW in the United States, and engaged in advocacy efforts focused on the human rights violations in Iran. Leila is the co-founder and Executive Director of Iran Rooyan, a non-profit organization committed to the advancement of women’s rights in Iran. Leila holds a law degree from Wake Forest University School of Law and a Masters in Religious Studies from the University of Virginia.

Dr. Karim Abdian is a Human Rights activist in support of the rights of ethnic and national minorities in Iran. He is the executive director of Ahwaz Human Rights Organization, an international advocacy NGO, in support of the rights of 5-7 million Ahwazi-Arab ethnic minorities in Khuzestan or Al-Ahwaz province in Southwestern Arab region of Iran.

For the past 40 years, he has worked tirelessly and passionately on behalf of the oppressed and marginalized national, ethnic, linguistic and religious minorities such as the Azeri-Turks, Arabs, Kurds, Bloch and Turkmen. He was imprisoned for 2 years in the infamous Evin prison during the Shah for these activities.

He is also the president of Ahwaz Educational and Human Rights Foundation, here in Washington. He also serves simultaneously on the Executive Committee of the Congress of Iranian Nationalities for a Federal Iran (CINFI).

Carol Prunhuber is a journalist born in Caracas, Venezuela to a well-known Venezuelan actress and an American father in 1956. She studied Literature in Caracas and then pursued her Doctorate in Ibero American Studies in the University of Paris. She has written: Agua, silencio, memoria y Felisberto Hernández (Caracas, 1986) and Femmes: Les Grands Mythes Féminins à travers le Monde (Paris, 1987) published in the USA as Women: Around the World and Through the Ages (1990).

Carol began writing for Spanish-speaking newspapers -later working as a press attaché with prominent diplomats and politicians and became a foreign correspondent for El Nacional (Caracas) in Madrid in the 1980’s.

In 1982, Carol met Cannes Film Festival Golden Palm winner, Kurdish film director from Turkey, Yilmaz Güney which sparked her growing interest in political affairs. Güney introduced her to the Kurdish plight and many of the exiled Kurds living in Paris.

In 1983 Carol met the Iranian Kurdish leader Abdul Rahman Ghassemlou. Through the French agency Gamma TV, she traveled to Iranian Kurdistan via Baghdad in 1985 to film the struggle of the Kurds in Iran. Following three years of detailed research and interviews, the writing of The Passion and Death of Rahman the Kurd was completed in 1991. This book, twenty years in the making, is a distillation of her passionate concern and a tribute to the charismatic and forward-thinking Kurdish leader.

Dr. M. Hosein Bor is a distinguished attorney currently serving as Of Counsel to the law firm Entwistle and Cappucci LLP. He received a Masters in Comparative Law from the George Washington University Law School and Ph.D. and Masters Degree in International Law and International Relations from the American University. Dr. Bor also has an LL.B. degree in law from Tehran University. Dr Bor’s practice focuses on commercial law, international law, international relations, energy and petroleum, international trade, international transactions, corporate law, contracts and administrative law. Dr. Bor served as Energy and Economic Advisor to the Embassy of the State of Qatar in Washington, D.C. from 1982 to 1998.

Dr. Bor is active in facilitating trade, joint ventures, investment, and project development between American corporations and their counterparts from the Gulf countries. He advises U.S. companies conducting business in the Gulf and overseas corporations about business operations in the U.S., including analysis of U.S. and foreign policy and regulatory issues. Dr. Bor maintains a wide range of contacts among government officials, lawyers and business leaders in the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain and Iran.

Dr. Bor previously served as an Adjunct Professor of Law at the Catholic University of America. He has written extensively on various issues relating to the Middle East, including a treatise on Iran and its nationalities.

Sam Yebri is an attorney, civic activist and community leader. He is the president and co-founder of 30 YEARS AFTER, a leading civic action organization formed in 2007 whose mission is to promote the participation of Iranian American Jews in American civic, political and Jewish life. Sam also serves on the Los Angeles Cabinet of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the Los Angeles Board of Directors of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), the New Leaders Council of Bet Tzedek Legal Services, and the Regional Council of the Progressive Jewish Alliance (PJA). In March 2010, PJA honored Sam with its Young Changemaker Award at its Annual Gala. In Februaruy 2011, Magen David Adom (Israel’s national first-aid and disaster relief organization) honored Sam at its Annual Gala. In February 2010, Sam testified in the California Legislature in support of the passage of a recently enacted law prohibiting the State from contracting with companies that do business in Iran’s energy sector. In July 2010, the White House invited Sam to attend the presidential signing of the Iran sanctions legislation. Appointed by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa in October 2010, Sam serves on the Board of Civil Service Commissioners for the City of Los Angeles. Sam has authored articles that have appeared in numerous publications, including Huffington Post, the Jewish Journal, and the Los Angeles Lawyer.

After clerking for Federal Judge A. Howard Matz and working at the prestigious national law firms of Proskauer Rose LLP and Jones Day, Sam founded the law firm of Merino Yebri LLP, in 2010. Sam’s legal practice includes business litigation, intellectual property, entertainment, employment, and real estate law. He also represents several pro bono clients in immigration and civil right matters and serves on the Executive Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association’s Barristers.

Sam was born in Iran and moved to Los Angeles with his family as a child. He received his B.A. in Political Science from Yale University in 2003, and his J.D. from the University of Southern California Law School in 2006.


Dr. Pary Karadaghi. Dr. Pary Karadaghi is the Executive Director of Kurdish Human Rights Watch. (KHRW). Dr. Karadaghi is noted for outstanding leadership, particularly regarding refugees and Iraqi women’s equality, medical care for families and children, and socially and economically self-sufficient refugees and communities. Under her leadership KHRW’s mission is to empower refugees in the United States to become visionary leaders and contributing members of society. She received her Doctor of Medicine degree from Bucharest School of Medicine, Romania, 1984. She served as a consultant to Georgetown University on Kurdish and Iraqi issues in 1992. She completed post-doctoral studies in Grenoble, France and a post-doctoral research fellowship at Georgetown University in 1989.

Dr. Karadaghi frequently gives presentations on Kurdish and Iraqi people and refugees’ plight and future on television news, Public Radio, CNN, Nightline, the Voice of America, and other media. She also gives public lectures and workshops to further educate the public on statelessness, internally displaced persons, and Iraqi, Iranian and Kurdish refugees.

Dr. Karadaghi’s many awards include the Top Ten Nationwide Most Resourceful Women Distinction Award (1992), the Tides Foundation Award for Human Rights (1992), the Shaler Adams Award on Human Rights (1993, 1995), the Women of Distinction Award in Human Rights (2001), Leadership Award in NGO Humanitarian Work in Iraq (2003, 2005, 2007) and the Human Rights Award from the Kurdistan Regional Government, Iraq (2008).

Kathryn Cameron Porter. Trained as an applied anthropologist with an extensive background in political, cultural and social activism, Kathryn has time and again served as the voice of the voiceless in an effort to bring about positive change in the world.

Founder and President of Leadership Council for Human Rights, Kathryn has dedicated her career to working on critical human rights issues, and was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts. In 1995, Kathryn founded the Human Rights Alliance, an organization which worked to protect and promote the reality of both human rights and human responsibilities throughout the world.

Kathryn was the catalyst for the formation of the Congressional Human Rights Caucus with Congressman John Porter in 1981 after a trip to the Soviet Union. She has testified in Congress multiple times and before various international entities including the UN, European Parliament, OSCE, and Council of Europe. She has served on the boards of a number of national and international organizations, including the National Institute of Mental Health and the United Nations Development Programme.

Kathryn has served as a congressional chief of staff, electoral campaign manager, non-profit executive and consultant, and U.S. presidential political appointee.

© 2011, Sharif Behruz’s Personal Blog. Please note: Views or opinions listed in this blog, unless specifically stated, otherwise are of my personal perspective. External links to other Internet sites should not be construed as an endorsement.

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