Democracy and Human Rights in Iran: A Conference in Honor of Siamak Pourzand

Leily Pourzand, Nazila Fathi, Mehdi Yahyanejad, Roberto Toscano, Mehrangiz Kar, Omid Memarian, Nikahang Kowsar, Henry Wooster, Arash Sobhani, Maziar Bahari, Mehrdad Hariri, Haleh Esfandiari, Suzanne Maloney, Karim Sadjadpour April 19, 2012 Washington, D.C.
Even as the policy debate has intensified over Iran, the struggle of Iranians to advance democracy and human rights under increasingly repressive conditions is too often being overlooked.
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The issue of Iran has emerged as a major focus for policy and media attention in recent months. And yet even as debate has intensified over how best to address the threats posed by Tehran, a central dimension of the Iranian challenge is too often overlooked: the struggle of Iranians to advance democracy and human rights under increasingly repressive conditions.


One of the many Iranians who participated valiantly in that struggle is the writer Siamak Pourzand, whose tragic death in April 2011 after a decade of detention and harassment by the Islamic Republic underscored the world’s deep concerns about the situation in Iran today. In commemoration of his life and work, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution, and the Middle East Program of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars hosted a public conference on the state of democratic values and human rights in Iran.


The conference consisted of three panel discussions, as well as a remembrance of Mr. Pourzand by members of his family and closing remarks by Brooking Institution’s Tamara Cofman Wittes.



  • Culture and Human Rights in Iran

    April 19, 2012 Washington, D.C. Mehrangiz Kar, Omid Memarian, Roberto Toscano, Haleh Esfandiari

    As Iranians struggle to advance democracy and human rights under increasingly repressive conditions, there is a clear connection between culture and human rights.

  • Information, Communications, and Media in Iran

    April 19, 2012 Washington, D.C. Henry Wooster, Nikahang Kowsar, Mehdi Yahyanejad, Suzanne Maloney

    The state of media and information technology in Iran today has important implications for domestic democracy movements.

  • Politics or Culture? Iran’s Main Obstacles to Democracy

    April 19, 2012 Washington, D.C. Nazila Fathi, Arash Sobhani, Maziar Bahari, Karim Sadjadpour

    Culture plays an important role in the democratic movement in Iran.


About the Middle East Program

The Carnegie Middle East Program combines in-depth local knowledge with incisive comparative analysis to examine economic, sociopolitical, and strategic interests in the Arab world. Through detailed country studies and the exploration of key crosscutting themes, the Carnegie Middle East Program, in coordination with the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut, provides analysis and recommendations in both English and Arabic that are deeply informed by knowledge and views from the region. The program has special expertise in political reform and Islamist participation in pluralistic politics.


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