The Iranian

 

email us

Fly to Iran

Sehaty Foreign Exchange

    News & views

"Persian Watch Cat" Seeks Leadership Participation in the US"

By David Rahni,
Ph.D. PWC President and Professor of Chemistry Environmental Science and Law
New York, January 2001

Even though people of Persian/Iranian heritage have immigrated sporadically to the US since the 19th Century, it is, nonetheless, within the past three decades particularly in the late 70's and early 80's that the rate of such immigration, due to fundamental socio-political changes in Iran, has increased immensely. While the 1990 US census underestimates this Iranian American population at only 240,000, it is hoped that due to efforts of so many, including Persian Watch Cat (PWC) that the 2000 Census results will place the number much closer to the one million mark, as quoted by numerous researchers and officials including US Secretary of State Madeline Albright.

With a blossoming community here in the US, the Iranian American population is one of the most vibrantly affluent, as well as one of the most influential people of distinct cultural heritage due to their ever- increasing contributions in the arts, sciences, technologies, businesses, government, etc; it is worth noting they are preceded by the contributions to the global village of great many of their Persian ancestors, Avicenna, Rhazes, Algorithm, Birooni, Khayyam, Ferdowsi, Cyrus, Saadi and Hafez since antiquity just to name a few. In Retrospect, however, this distinct population was caught between a "rock and hard place" throughout much of the 80's and on, when they were faced with carrying the psychological "guilt" burden of many politically charged incidents worldwide portrayed egregiously by the media.

That they had nothing to do with, and in fact these incidents were contrary to the desires of the vast majority if not all Iranian Americans was either conveniently overlooked or deliberately misrepresented. This had in turn, led to their suppression of identity, cultural pride and self-esteem, i.e., an urge to "mix in with the crowd" by " biting the bullet coming form either directions" per se.

At the same token it is deemed it must have adversely impacted their professional and personal aspirations. For instance, there is strong evidence indicating that despite all odds, even though most Iranians Americans progressed to become outstanding contributing members in their chosen fields, there persisted a perceived or real level of discrimination in the society at- large, that impeded their advancements to middle and upper level executive and academic management; this is evident in the government sector for GS, SES, elected and, or appointed positions, in particular.

After the advent of acquiring US citizenship by large numbers of Iranian Americans through the 90s, many recognized the need and merit to have "come out of the closet" so as to fully realize their dreams by exerting their presence felt. Persian Watch Cat (PWC): The Iranian American Anti-Discrimination Council, also known as Persian Watch Center (PWC), is one of the many natural outcomes of such foresight. PWC has now successfully completed the first period of the development of its mission statement, by-laws, and committees and regional chapters structures.

Furthermore, it has successfully launched and offered three petitions and other actions generating over ten thousand cumulative signatures, the result of which have been shared with the community and with federal Government and policy officials.

PWC is committed to the principle of not-for-profit [501(c)(3)], non-political and non- denominational endeavors that encompass the concerns of Iranian American citizens, either as a community or as individuals. PWC was indeed preceded with similar activities consistent with its Mission, as typified by a 1996 article this author wrote in the fall issue of Persian Heritage Magazine entitled, "Persian American should seek Leaders," and through the efforts led by Dr. Ala Mollabashy, a renowned Detroit-based Orthopedic Surgeon in 1997. After a period of latency, the effort was revived by Dr. Kamiar Kallaantar a California based physician and other compatriots in California, New York and Washington, DC areas.

Hence, the notion of establishing such an organization is not novel, yet its recent restructuring has certainly been a major endeavor. PWC now has a well-organized infrastructure. It consists of a few hundred members and elected boards, local chapters, and several subcommittees. Each year, toward the end the year, the Board of Supervisors (BoS), an elected body of 21 to 30 professionals to oversee the PWC activities, nominates and elects five members of the Board of Directors (BoD) to serve for one year: president, executive director, treasurer, public relation director, and webmaster. The members of the BoS are to be elected every four years by the general membership.

Moreover, the establishment of an arching Board of Trustees comprised of philanthropists and individuals of (inter-) national stature is envisaged. Currently we have over 350 active members (including over 120 members of the PWC daily discussion list). The current BoS is the founding board of advisors of the year 2000, who together founded the new PWC and constructed the bylaws and has registered it in the US. The next BoS election will be in year 2004. We believe that by that time, the PWC membership will include at least a few thousand active members. The goal is to have an organization to defend the legal rights of over one million Iranian Americans in the US and to be the strong voice of our community, similar to what American Arab Antidiscrimination Council or Anti- Defamation League have achieved, each having 25,000 to 50,000 members in the US, respectively. Promotion of, and seeking recognition for the many contributions by our community as a whole or our distinguished members toward the society at-large is another main objective set forth by PWC.

PWC strives to emulate similar associations like the Anti-Defamation League, American Civil Liberties Union, Arab American Anti-Discrimination Committee, etc. to exclusively concentrate on the concerns of the Persian/Iranian American Community. Recognizing the sustained momentum PWC has achieved in just the past year, one should hasten to ponder the work we face ahead of us. Many thousands of community members have at one point or another participated in PWC endeavors.

Nonetheless, everyone is invited to join PWC Organization by going to its web site http://www.antidiscrimination.org/, then selecting the JOIN PWC button on the lower left blue region of the screen to complete a simple application form. We urge the readers to visit periodically the PWC web site for the upcoming action items as well.

PWC Board of Directors and Supervisors acknowledge they certainly have an ambitious task ahead of them.

Some of the forthcoming action topics include a new petition to the incoming Bush Administration asking for the cancellation of finger printing and excessive security checks of persons of Iranian heritage, a relaxation of visas for the relatives of Iranian Americans in particular, and a comprehensive survey to assess the quality of air travel and airline services taken by people of Iranian heritage, especially to Iran.

Among our upcoming endeavors for which your leadership and input is so sincerely trusted, requested, and applauded for are as follows: diffusion of any stereotyping and collective or individual discrimination against us, and pursuit of appropriate legal action, petitions, newsletters, and press releases. PWC strives to promote social justice, equity and empowerment for the nearly one million Citizens of Persian/Iranian heritage by upholding constitutional and civil rights, and last but not least facilitating the positive image for the Community.

PWC further endeavors to deter and resolve discrimination by the following means, arranged in order of preference: Education, Information, Communication, Participation, Deliberation, Mediation, Arbitration, Negotiation, Media Dissemination, Government Intervention and Prosecution, Litigation and last Adjudication.

Persian Watch Cat: Iranian American Anti-Discrimination Center

Links


 MIS Internet Services

Web Site Design by
Multimedia Internet Services, Inc

 GPG Internet server

Internet server by
Global Publishing Group.