Man of dialogue

In Memory of Hossein Alikhani


Man of dialogue
by Kaveh Afrasiabi

I am much saddened by learning of Hossein Alikhani's untimely death. As an occasional contributor to the prestigious journal of his center on world dialogue, I always admired Hossein for his unique initiative that was so close to his heart, the noble cause of global dialogue, and for his deep, passionate commitment to world peace.

Although we never met and I have yet to see even his photo, I feel I have lost a true friend with whom I shared so much and who always encouraged me in my various endeavour.

I recall how he made a generous contribution to the World Youth Festival in Vilnius, Lithuania, that took place in Summer of 2000. I was the organizing chair of that event and at the time worked closely with the UN's Special Representative on Dialogue Among Civilizations, Giandomenico Picco. Initially, I went to Vilnius with Picco to attend a three day seminar on Dialogue Among Civilizations that took place at the presidential palace and featured, among other speakers, three East European presidents as well as a number of international luminaries including the author Mahmoud Dowlatabadi.

Yet, I saw an opportunity to launch a unique event for the world's youth and turned to Mr. Alikhani who made a generous contribution of some $60,000 to UNSESCO-Lithuania, which co-sponsored the event -- that brought hundreds of young people from dozens of countries together for a week of cultural, social, and political dialogue. It was a wonderful festival and would have never been possible to cover the travel expense of most of the third world kids without Alikhani's contribution.

Another occasion when Alikhani came forward with assistance was a couple of years later when I was in Baku, Azerbaijan, for a two-day conference on oil and gas in the Caspian, and then I connected with the UN program on Caspian environment and worked on an international conference on Caspian environment with the goal of bringing the environmental NGOs from the region together for a few days and, again, it was Alikhani to the rescue for a bulk of the financial expenditures of the conference.

But, in addition to our shared interest in world peace and global dialogue, Alikhani and I shared something else in common: we had both suffered grievous injustice in America, and we had both brought civil rights law suit against the perpetrators of human rights abuse against us, in his case the US federal agents who abducted him and chained him to a bed for weeks, and in my case the rights abusers at Harvard University who framed me with a fictitious crime story in order to silence me. "We are comrades in suffering," I told Hossein one day and he chuckled, and I always felt he was one of the few people who knew the depth of my emotional pain caused by the blindness of American justice to my cry for justice.

Although an Iranian court had issued a verdict in Alikhani's favor, he was never able to collect a penny, and nor was I, despite the clear, irrefutable evidence of malicious abuse of my human rights at Harvard University. I remember one night, after I had emailed him some information about what had transpired in my case with Harvard, Hossein called and we spoke for a long time and when I expressed my dismay that the so-called Iranian intellectuals had chosen silence instead of speaking out on my behalf, as a few US luminaries like Noam Chomsky and historian Howard ZInn had done, his response was, "I am not alll surprised, but that is because most of them are very shallow."

I will always regret that we never met, this noble soul who loved Iran, and humanity.


Recently by Kaveh AfrasiabiCommentsDate
Reading Kafka at Harvard (7)
Dec 20, 2008
Reading Kafka at Harvard (6)
Dec 13, 2008
Reading Kafka at Harvard (5)
Dec 06, 2008
more from Kaveh Afrasiabi

Sanity vs. Insanity !!

by masoudA on

What we are in the middle of - is a battle between sanity and insanity.   To win this battle - the sane (which I am assuming you gentlemen are amongst them) must win in two fronts - education and elimination.      

Where do you draw the line of sanity you ask ?   Basic Human Rights.    Now - world's cultures and communities can easily be seperated by this line - you either accept:
All races, genders, faiths - are equal in rights or you don't - that easy.

Now - Are there problems in the sane world ? - heck yes.   Can their judicial system faulter - hell yes.   Are we fixing them and becoming gradualy better generation after generation ?  heck yes.   Are there things that are getting worst in the sane world ?  heck yes.  

But all of that does not mean in the MIDDLE OF THE WAR against insanity - some certain pedestrian but sane mind starts throwing rocks at the sane.  

How do we digest that from individuals who have gone through long and difficulat paths just to get entries into USA.    

Being Appreciative is a great virtue.  




by Khanai man dar Khak wa PooK (not verified) on

I am a big Fan.
I am writing to say thank you for your very insightful articles.
I really learn and enjoy reading your articles on Asia Times online (

Please do continue, Your words are very effective …



RE: ANONYMOUS Redress was

by Anonymous15 (not verified) on


Redress was offered for suffering and torture undergone in the US. The only US assets left in Iran were the US embassy, it must be noted that this has not been seized by Alikhani therefore not a penny of these damages has still been seen. It must also be noted that Alikhani was a proponent of US-Iran rapprochement despite his traumatic experience and had said that if the I.R.I awarded him the embassy he wished to turn it into a public park.

Whilst the plight of human rights in Iran is of serious concern, it is futile to separate the plight of human rights worldwide (or in the US) from that of fellow Iranians abroad. It is true that Iranian courts must defend basic human rights suffered by young Iranians whilst this should not diminish the courts' capability to provide redress for Iranian suffering at the hands of foreign powers.


Mr. Javid

by masoudA on

You removed my post which was posted in support of "Fred" - yet the post by anonymous in which he claims to be speaking for the whole forum in discreding Fred - remains ?!!!!

I do appreciate you giving us this free forum - just thought I point out the obvious.


Jahanshah Javid


by Jahanshah Javid on

Friends, please avoid sweeping accusations. Personal or baseless attacks have no place here. Treat others the way you would like to be treated: Fairly and with respect.



by Midwesty on

Please tell us the story. we are listening!


Dear Sir..

by Anonymous (not verified) on

I was reading the article from your link about Mr. Hossein Alikhani by Cyprus Mail. Let’s hope God is blessing his soul. Meanwhile just by looking at following statement a lot of questions are here:

"After failing to win redress in the US courts for his treatment, Alikhani turned to those of Iran, which in 2003 awarded him $550 million in damages against the United States. Last year, Iran mooted the seizure and public auction of the US embassy in Tehran with a view to paying Alikhani’s compensation."

I feel embarrass, this is the court of justice in our mother land that each year is hanging or executing numerous number of young men/women of our country for demanding their basic human rights, but at the same this court was defending Mr. Alikhani and awarding damages to him against United State... what a pity... what a shame...

Something is not right with IRI backing him up!!!