As the United States and the international community work to negotiate a deal with Iran on its nuclear program and questions have rise in regards to whether or not two long-term adversaries can cooperate in confronting the shared threat of ISIL, an issue that has remained in the undercurrent of the debate is how the United States should address the issues of human rights and democracy within Iran. Despite hopes for a blossoming of democracy during the 2009 Green Movement and optimism after the election of President Rouhani in 2013, many remain concerned that obstacles to a transformative change within the country remain high. Many question whether or not the United States alone can effectively promote policies and principles with the United States' own challenging legacy within the country and the region as a whole. Join YPFP for a discussion with prominent Iranian activists within D.C., Mohsen Sazegra and Aram Hessami, on how the United States should best address these two important issues within its engagement with Iran and the international community.
Bios of Speakers:
Mohsen Sazegara was an activist of 1979 Islamic Revolution and a member of Liberation Movement of Iran (abroad). He returned to Iran on the same plane with Ayatollah and was one of the founders of Islamic Revolution Guards Corp (IRGC). He was a member of its first commanding board. Sazegara accepted different positions in first decade after the revolution, such as Head of Iran National Radio, Deputy of Prime Minister Office in Internal Political Affairs, Under Secretary of Heavy Industries and CEO of biggest government owned industrial conglomerate, Industrial Development and Renovation Organization (IDRO) and deputy of Planning and Budget Organization. Sazegara did not accept any government positions after 1988. He published three newspapers and two monthly magazines, which were all, shut down by the government. He was an active and influential participant of Religious Intellectual Movement, Reformist Movement and the Green Movement. He has been arrested and imprisoned four times in Iran. In 2003 when he was last imprisoned, he went on two prolonged hunger strikes that resulted in his release but poor health and hospitalization. When he was being treated outside the country, he was sentenced to six years jail in absentia. Sazegara continued his political opposition against the regime outside Iran and was one of the founders of Iran's Constitution Reform Campaign and Unity for Democracy in Iran (UDI). He has studied Mechanical Engineering, Physics and History and has been a scholar in Washington Institute, Yale and Harvard Universities and he has been a scholar at George W. Bush Presidential Library & Museum for three years until May 2013. He is president of Research Institute on Contemporary Iran (RICI).
Dr. Aram Hessami is a professor of Political Science and Philosophy at Montgomery College in Rockville Maryland. He is a native of Iran and immigrated to the United States in May of 1979. He received his BA, MA, and Doctorate in Political Science from The George Washington University in 1993. Dr. Hessami’s specialization is in Western Political Thought and Post-modern philosophy. His research and publications are focused on Democratic Transition, Discourse Theory and Social Change. He also has numerous published articles ranging from topics such as Iran’s Nuclear Discourse to Globalization and Social Change. He co-edited a book, Contemporary Social Discourse (2012) about the Green Movement in Iran. Dr. Hessami is the founder and the Executive Director of the Institute for Advanced International Studies in Rockville, Maryland. He also serves on the Board of Directors of The Iranian Academic Association in Washington, D.C. Dr. Hessami also sits on the Board of Directors of The Society for Modernity and Democracy. Since September 2001, Dr. Hessami has been appearing in various media outlets such as CNN Radio affiliates WRNR, BBC Persian, and VOA on weekly basis.
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