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.