Freedom Concert @Sacred Heart University


Sayeh Hassan
by Sayeh Hassan

This letter came to my attention recently, and by doing some background research, I find it to be credible, therefore I decided to post it.

To Whom It May Concern,

On 7 April 2008 students, faculty, musicians, and prominent human rights activists came together in a concert of words and music in Sacred Heart University’s Edgerton Center for the Performing Arts (Fairfield, CT.) to express solidarity with dissident Iranian students, minorities,intellectuals and labourers, and to highlight the flagrant violations of their most basic freedoms by the Islamic Republic in Iran. Its cosponsors were a diverse coalition of over 30 student groups, academic departments, and outside organizations including, the Iran Human RightsDocumentation Center, Committee to Protect Bloggers, Tharwa Foundation, Center for Faith and Public Life at Fairfield University, and HAMSA, a civil rights initiative of the American Islamic Congress. The Concert featured keynote addresses by Ms. Lily Mazahery, Esq. and Mr. Kianoosh Sanjari. Ms. Mazahery had also given the keynote address at the Freedom Concert held the year prior. She was well received on both occasions as a powerful advocate, insightful analyst, and remarkable person.

On the basis of her recommendation, great efforts were undertaken to help secure a visa and the funding necessary to invite Mr. Sanjari. Ms. Mazahery suggested that he would be a great addition to the program, but, understanding the limited resources at our disposal to make that happen, she offered to (and did in fact) give-up her own speaking honorarium so that the money could be used to pay Mr. Sanjari.

It is puzzling, then, and very troubling as well that anyone, no less Mr. Sanjari, would try to portray Ms. Mazahery’s pro bono involvement in the Freedom Concert as somehow “self-interested”—to put the allegations mildly. As the student organizers of the Concert, it is our pleasure to attest to Ms. Mazahery being above reproach. Mr. Sanjari, on the other hand, was almost disinvited a few days before the event on account of his unreasonable demands to break all prior arrangements for transportation and lodging that were made for him at our expense. In addition to the financial loss that Mr. Sanjari’s unreasonable and unprofessional demands would
have imposed, such demands would have also entailed the University assuming security,
insurance, legal, and other liabilities. Given that Mr. Sanjari was a foreign national, the University was only empowered to deal with his attorney at the time, Ms. Mazahery, who is highly respected and trusted on every level.

Yet, refusing to cooperate with University rules and regulations, Mr. Sanjari demanded to “come alone to the university” and to make his own plans on “how [to] stay” once here. While Mr. Sanjari communicated his desires in passable English, he feigned misunderstanding whenever we contacted him in regard to the planning and the logistics concerning the event. Only after a last-ditch email was sent in Farsi reiterating the consequences of his non-compliance—including our legal obligation to notify Immigration and Customs Enforcement—did he finally agree to comply. In two emails written in short succession he attested that: “I have no problem with your
event and I will be in the concert according [to] your university policy.” With that, the rest of his involvement in the Concert went smoothly.

Post-Concert, there was a delay in the payment of Mr. Sanjari’s honorarium. A clerical error by the Business Office, the department which handles all the University’s transactions, resulted in the check being mailed to the wrong address and was returned undeliverable. After realizing the error, and based on Ms. Mazahery’s following-up and request, the check was resent by overnight
mail on 29 April 2008. The next day we received confirmation from Ms. Mazahery and Mr.Sanjari that the check had arrived; that they had gone to the bank and cashed it together; and that Mr. Sanajari had received the full amount. Any claims to the contrary are baseless by Mr.Sanjari’s own account at the time.

Similarly spurious are his recent charges of impropriety on Ms. Mazahery’s part in regards to their lodging. A single hotel suite at the Best Western Black Rock Motor Inn in Fairfield, CT. had been reserved in early March 2008 by the Director of the University’s Middle East Studies Program, Dr. June-Ann Greeley. The suite was booked on the assumption that it was divided into two rooms, each with its own bed and amenities like free high-speed internet service, and separated by a door. Unbeknownst to Dr. Greeley or us until the day of the Concert, the accommodations proved less than adequate as one room had two beds and the separate living
room only had a pullout coach. Upon hearing this from Ms. Mazahery, who expressed
discomfort with the arrangements, we unsuccessfully attempted to change the reservation to provide her with a separate room. Since Ms. Mazahery had no involvement in making the reservation and, furthermore, objected to sharing the suite then, Mr. Sanjari’s accusations now at this late date are transparently fraudulent.

It is our sincere hope that Mr. Sanjari ceases from slandering Ms. Mazahery; further discrediting himself; and, in the process, denigrating the ideals of the Freedom Concert.


Jason Guberman-Pfeffer and Charlie Cybulski
Freedom Concert Organizers;


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