Disrupting discourse

Chaos at Amnesty event, NIAC responds


Disrupting discourse
by Babak Talebi

On February 22, Amnesty International hosted a panel presentation and discussion titled, "Human Rights in Iran: How to Move Forward," in Beverly Hills, California. The event was disrupted by Mohammad Parvin’s MEHR-Iran organization, various monarchist factions, and members of the outlawed Iranian Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (MEK); and was cancelled after the opening remarks.

The Amnesty event featured four Iran specialists (including National Iranian American Council President, Trita Parsi), and was organized to highlight Iran’s abysmal human rights record. Amnesty International organizers hoped to use this event to initiate talks with the Iranian-American community in Southern California about Iran’s human rights situation.

The MEHR-Iran, monarchist, and MEK groups in attendance rejected Amnesty International’s extended hand of cooperation, and instead embarrassed not only themselves, but the entire Iranian-American community. By setting back the efforts of one of the world’s premiere human rights groups, these radical Iranian Americans managed to do the Iranian government’s dirty work for them.

As an extension of our working relationship with Amnesty International—including NIAC’s own July 2007 conference, “Human Rights in Iran and US Policy Options,” held on Capitol Hill (transcript here)—Trita was invited to participate on the February 22 panel. In the days prior to the panel discussion, MEHR-Iran (a self-described Human Rights organization) demanded that Amnesty exclude NIAC from the event (a tactic they tried at NIAC’s July conference as well). Their belligerent harassment of Amnesty staff in July reached so high that Amnesty’s lawyers had to step in and put a stop to it.

Still, MEHR-Iran and its friends pressed on, intent on disrupting the efforts of a leading human rights organization. They organized a counter-event in the same building as the Amnesty event. This MEHR meeting became the breeding ground for their plans to demonstrate against and disrupt Amnesty’s panel.

An Iranian-American (and former Amnesty International board member) acted as the event’s moderator. His introductory remarks (in English) were met with a loud outcry from the Iranian oppositional groups, complaining in Persian that they do not understand English and demanding that he speak in Persian. Amnesty, an American organization whose events are always in English, had six staffers present, only one of whom spoke Persian. Similarly, the audience included dozens of non-Iranian guests that had come to learn about the deteriorating human rights situation in Iran.

When the audience settled down a bit, the moderator, continuing in English, reminded the audience that Amnesty was videotaping the event, and that no other recording of the event was permissible.

Chaos commenced.

Standing up and shouting in Persian, a producer with PARS TV demanded that, “on behalf of Iranian media outlets in Los Angeles,” Amnesty International must permit PARS TV to tape the event. As he finished, a few dozen people started shouting at the top of their lungs “Maarg bar Jomhoorieh Eslami” (Death to the Islamic Republic), very reminiscent of the “Death to America” chants we still hear in some quarters in Iran. People started marching around the room with placards held high, continuing to scream and yell. A few members of the audience started yelling back. One woman came to the front and insisted, “I drove two hours from Orange County to hear this talk; you are taking away my right to listen to this panel!”

Police officers, library staff, Amnesty’s own staff from DC, and about half of the audience in the 150-seat hall were all in shock, and were not able to control the demonstrators. It was obvious that the protesters only attended to disrupt the event—not to create meaningful dialogue. Amnesty International was forced to cancel the event.

With the announcement of the event’s cancellation, the most bizarre incident of the night erupted: Sparked by some of their own chants, the demonstrators started to scream at one another. Only minutes before, these groups were on the same side of the battle. Now bitter foes, the monarchists lined the room on one side, and MEK supporters lined the room on the other side. Profanities flew, as people chanted, screamed and yelled at each other. It was absolute chaos and an absolute embarrassment to the Iranian-American community living in California.

This incident illustrates the great frustration that legitimate human rights organizations have when working on Iranian human rights issues in the United States. Instead of being able to tap into the expertise and experience of the Iranian-American community, these organizations have learned to keep a healthy distance from our community—from the radicals still mired in the mindset and tactics of a bygone era.

And it’s no wonder why.

The destructive and disruptive behavior exhibited by MEHR Iran, an isolated human rights organization, does not legitimize the cause. Instead, by stifling the ability of internationally recognized human rights organizations to function in our community, these groups are actually providing a cover and a service to the very same Iranian theocracy they profess to oppose.

The February 22 Amnesty event, though shameful and tragic for the Iranian oppositional groups involved, has revived our conviction that NIAC has to step up to the plate. We have to work twice as hard with organizations like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch—as well as with groups in our own community who legitimately work for human rights—to correct the wrongs of groups like MEHR-Iran, radical monarchists, and the MEK.

NIAC urges the Iranian American community to engage in the same kind of pluralistic discourse we all wish to institute inside Iran. We can, indeed, make a difference. First, however, it seems we have to institute these democratic values inside our own community here in America.

Babak Talebi is Director of Community Relations at the National Iranian American Council.


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Don't mix-up MKO and Pahlavi?

by Princess22 (not verified) on

Dear Kadivar - what do you mean about not mixing MKO and Pahlavi? Did you see the tape? They were WORKING TOGETHER! Which is not very surprising - they are equally marginalized and undemocratic.

If Pahlavi is different from Rajavi, and disagrees with the disruption at the Amnesty event - why isn't he speaking out against this mindful of the fact that the monarchists are doing the disrupting in PAHLAVI'S NAME?

Has he no pull whatsoever even with his own supporters? If that is the case - how can he expect anyone to take him seriously?


I love Trita Parsi!!

by Mahasti K (not verified) on

Look - here's the deal. I love Trita Parsi. He is the most articulate, straight talking and reasonable guy on TV from our community. The more I listen to him, the more sense he makes.

So, to be honest, the reason most people - particularly the MKO and monarchist dinasours - are attacking Trita is very simple.

They are jealous.

Because they don't get invited to CNN.

Because they don't have a single victory under their belt.

Because they haven't written a best seller printed by Yale University.

Because they haven't lifted a finger for the Iranian American community. They only fight for themselves, driven by hate and not by love.

That's why NIAC and Trita Parsi bewilders these people. He is a STAR! He is so far above them. They can't touch him. They can't compete with him.

So they try to destroy him and NIAC instead.

If I was at NIAC, I wouldn't worry. As long as people of Parsi's caliber are at NIAC, NIAC will be just fine.

And Babak Talebi - you are AWESOME too!

Now, I am going to put my money where my mouth is and join NIAC!


Some people never get what is going on!

by Yari (not verified) on

A case and point. It was that stupid so called Revulsion or you call it revolution. Iran was not ready for revolution, few adjustments, yes. But revolution? Now, you see the result. Bunch of Turban heads belonging to 1400 century are our slave masters! They own Iran and Iranians. Life & death is in their hand.

Again, these people don't see why the spotlight is shining on a person and for what purpose. Guess these are the same people saw Khomeini's face in the moon!

Hello! Haven't you learned enough in 30 years to spot an apologist when you see one? Listen to what he says and what he wants. His past actions, his associations, scandals, investigations and sentences handed down. All the write up on him.

You still want to act deaf, dumb and stupid? Please be our guests.

Please trust us as we tell you. It has become fashionable to be Iran Lover and Nationalist again! Please consider it.


I absolutely denounce and

by Farhad Kashani (not verified) on

I absolutely denounce and oppose to NIAC and similar groups for their stance on the regime in Iran, but no one condones disrupting free intellectual gatherings or things of that nature. That is not what we, as promoters for a free, democratic and modern Iran advocate for. These are the mafia-like techniques of leftists (Early days of revolution) and Islamic groups (Early days and today!) operating in Iran. Calling each other “agents” is also childish, but, “agents” are not the only ones who can bring catastrophe to a nation. NIAC is made of a combination of left-leaning so called “intellectuals” who naively and misguidedly justify IRIs actions by blaming others, specially the U.S, where they operate from, because they actually think that using anti U.S rhetoric will close the gap between the IRI and Iranian community; and by other left-leaning so called “intellectuals” who knowingly justify IRIs action to gain points with the IRI. The naïve ones very seldom and insignificantly talk about some aspects of IRIs action without rally addressing the real issue. The not so naïve ones, don’t even address those! All they talk about is how the so called “Neo Cons” are responsible for whats going on in Iran for the last 30 years and its all Israel and U.S fault, and parroting communist propaganda like that. Both groups are tremendously hurting the freedom cause in Iran. This is not the language or the methods that should be used to encounter this fascist regime. They know what NIAC and others are up to. These old ways of promoting some kind of a “change of behavior” of IRI has proven unsuccessful for the last 30 years. Lets see, back in 1979 and 1980, the first two years after the revolution, the regime was executing and imprisoning the people, applying fundamental Islamic laws to our country, oppressing women, minorities, dissent, and others, killing and imprisoning students, inspiring and supporting Islamic terrorism, by exporting its revolutionary ideas (i.e. Islamic fundamentalism) it was provoking a foreign country to start a war (Saddam),,,,,and now in the year 2008, it does exactly the same things with the exception of replacing Saddam with the NATO! Forget the so called “Neo con” propaganda, just answer this question, did our old techniques as opposition, (If we really oppose this regime!) has been successful or not. Because of these failures, our country has gone backwards 300 years, and our country has seen nothing but death and destruction partly because of our inability or unwillingness to fight this regime. We, as Iranians, are well aware how stubborn and unwilling to admit to our own mistakes we are. To this regime, ‘changing behavior” means its death, because these “behaviors” are an integral and vital part of this regimes existence. Without executions, imprisonment, war mongering and terrorism inspiring, this regime is no longer the Islamic “Republic” of Iran. The day that these “behaviors” have changed, will be the day that the Islamic regime is no longer in power, and we would not be having these discussions. So our efforts must be to fiercely fight the regime, not begging for them to listen to us. The way they will listen to us and give in, is when they are in the position of weakness and they see their days numbered. So based on the above mentioned, NIAC really does not represent but a small percentage of the Iranian population in the U.S, and even smaller portion worldwide, especially Iran.



by Midwesty on

Thanks for your response! It's fair enough.


Mr. Kadivar is not seeing

by HD (not verified) on

Mr. Kadivar is not seeing the role that foreign powers can and are playing vis a vis Iran's domestic situation. Mr. Kadivar is not understanding where Trita is coming from, Trita has worked on the Hill, knows the US policy circles inside out and trita is motivated more by US policy makers on Iran and trying to get US policy makers to understand the nuances of Iranian politics and regional dynamics.

Instead Mr. Kadivar is telling Trita to worry and care more about what some paranoid Iranian exiles in the US who are accusing him and to make himself understood to the Iranian-American community. Mr. Kadivar is not seeing what factors are driving Trita. Trita is not looking to impress Iranian diaspora communities, he is speaking as an academic from a US policy angel and NIAC is playing a role of commenting and influencing US foreign policy on Iran from the view point of Iranian-American and Mid East studies academic circles.

I do agree with Mr. Kadivar that NIAC and Trita have a lot more communicating to do with the Iranian-American community which they claim to represent, NIAC needs to explain and reach out to Iranian-Americans and show the way in which the US government and the Congress works. If the Iranian-American community knew how congress and the white house decide things, they would be blown away in disbelief.

Trita and NIAC are simply trying to get Iranian-Americans involved and conversant in the way in which American politics work and at the same time give voice to the view(s) of various Iran experts who are not being listened to at this time. So its tricky, because yes there needs to be voices that can put on the table Iranian and Iranian-American views and concerns for American policy makers but at the same time Iranian American communities also need to understand how the US political system works.

Mr. Kadivar's call for civil disobedience!!! is strange and irrelevant because NIAC and Trita are saying that they are an American organization working for getting the voice of Iranian-Americans heard in the US policy circles. Mr. Kadivar is still seeing himself as an exile Iranian, Trita and NIAC are stating that they are American of Iranian heritage.

Mr. Kadivar's message is good but should be directed inside Iran, Trita's audiance and message is not geared towards inside Iran and Iranian people, its audience are Americans with little or no understanding of Iranian issues especially at a time when US politicians are demonizing Iran, comparing it Germany during Hitler's time. Trita is trying to get American policy makers to look at ways to influence Iran back to the mainstream since all the propaganda only helps Isolate Iranian people and strengthen the mullahs.


Trita Parsi and his groupies

by bird flu (not verified) on

Trita Parsi and his groupies are prescribing "correct foreign policy" (see, grand bargain) solution, and they are influencing the Democratic Left and some other Senators and Congressman including human rights activists. How can they claim that "they are not a Political entity"?

What makes Mr. Parsi's prescription the right solution? (see grand bargain strategy below)

What gives them the right and based on what kind of authority or refernadum or free election they posit "correct solutions" to outstanding Iran-US issues in the US political arena? Who has determined this "correctness of their "solution"???

Trita Parsi's interview with Democracy Now, Feb. 26, 2007: //www.democracynow.org/2007/2/26/ex_congressi...

The Grand Bargain, American Iranian Council: //www.american-iranian.org/pubs/articles/The_...

The Council on Foreign Relations Task Force Report on Iran 2004, (p. 29) //www.cfr.org/content/publications/attachment...


Mr. Talebi

by Anonymous4now on

“NIAC is NOT an HR organization, but we WILL work with legitimate HR organizations to affect US policy that can have a positive impact on Iran's ABYSMAL HR record. “   

You still have not answered, how will normalization of relations with the IRI achieve this goal?   

“These LA TV fools can not be trusted. Period.”

If you can’t trust anybody else, then how can you expect to be trusted?  It is a vicious cycle, is it not? Those “fools” have to learn the rules of proper conduct in a civil discourse and who better than this “grass roots” organization, to teach them? The proper way to conduct the meeting was to make the rules of conduct known at the onset, with a Question and answer session after the presentation.  Your organization should have been more sensitive to the degree of mistrust amongst Iranians and the amount of emotionalism surrounding the issue of recognizing or not recognizing the IRI as a legitimate government, and planned and prepared for this Amnesty International meeting better.   You can’t dismiss those who mistrust you and disagree with you as fools, because that way, we will remain fragmented for ever.  

“Our staff works diligantly every day to protect the rights of our community, inform our supporters and members about what happens in DC that might affect their lives, and educate our members and community on how they can become effective in the political process.”  If you are truly taking about the IA community then you should strive to be pluralistic and educate and involve everyone in the “political process”.   


“Amnesty set the rules. No placards. No cameras. why? because people like PARS TV would edit them out of recognition and broadcast them to Iran where it would have real-life effects on the panelists' family-members.”  Couldn't they do the same with the video clip that is on line? So you are afraid to take a stance but you want to take a stance, anyway?  Because you are afraid to take a harsh stance on the IRI you are sacrificing and taking a gamble on the lives and livelihoods of millions of Iranians who are suffering through this “abysmal HR record”. 

It would be extremely unfair to expect you to put you own life or that of your relatives on the line to openly take a stance against the IRI (this says volumes about the nature of that regime), but you should not take a political stance in their favor either, especially if you don’t know how it will help improve the leverage the U.S. will have on the IRI to affect anything, such as HR.   


How do you envision the normalization of relations will affect the policies of the IRI and the lives of Iranians?    

Darius Kadivar

Dear Talebi Don't Confuse MKO and Reza Pahlavi ...

by Darius Kadivar on

I do not belong to any political group and understand that you claim political neutrality as far as involvment with political opposition groups.

Yet you seem to consider Reza Pahlavi and the MKO on the same level. Why ? All the more that Reza Pahlavi calls for Free elections and a Referendum on the nature of Iran's future system of government as long as it respects democratic practice and Human Rights. Does the MKO even in its structure look like anything democratic ? Reza Pahlavi is not even leading a political party. You do have political parties with various names that claim to support him but he is not a party leader unlike the Rajavis and their self proclaimed President Maryam Rajavi.

As far as I know Reza Pahlavi does not belong to a Terrorist Group nor do Constitutional Monarchists. What makes you reduce the monarchists to radical Shahollahi's who run cheap proprams on TV and look for media attention ?

Every Political movement or constituency has Far Right or Far Left Elements and the monarchists are no exception but they do not represent a majority if any. Has your organization ever been attacked by Reza Pahlavi as such ? I think not. Nor by Dariush Homayoun who leads the Constitutional Mouvement and cannot truly be considered as a closeminded fanatic ?

You do seem however besides opposing War against Iran ( Who doesn't ? ) but also to support a secular Republic for tommorow's Iran . I have no problem with such a claim BUT THAT IS A POLITICAL AGENDA ! 

So what differentiates you from a Party ? Saying you are Democrats and oppose War with Iran is not enough. You advocate a change in Policy towards Iran's current leadership and also have opposed the financial help by the US government to Iranian opposition groups in the US. AGAIN THAT IS A POLITICAL AGENDA !

So claiming neutrality seems quite hypocritical on your part.

Also If the MKO is indeed a Terrorist Organization it is in addition a Cult Driven organization similar to religious sects. That has never been the case of the monarchists who to my knowledge have not burned themselves for King and Country or displayed any form of radical violence except through words. The disturbing of your event by making noise or using foul language is not something recommendable or honorable but that would also be very suitable for NIAC to appear as victimes and to brandish ALL monarchists as a bunch of illiterate and fanatical bunch and confuse such public display with a more radical and often secret undercover activity as the MKO has had eversince its creation.

You know perfectly that the MKO is financed by various means including supporters amongst European Deputies ( often Leftwing parties) and have much wider financial means than any other opposition group and can propagate propaganda in such terms as highly equipped satellite TV's, organize demonstrations where ever and whenever they want across Europe and America thanks to a propaganda machine that they have put together over the years and by a fanatical militancy that has nothing in comparison with what various monarchists groups or Alledged Monarchist groups have advocated or advocate through often cheap television programs.  

You cannot claim neutrality when you suggest a political stance towards Iran's regime. THAT IS TOO EASY !

You also refused debate on TV Stations like VOA ( who invited you to their programs to answer back to accusations made against Mr. Trita Parsi).

So playing on grounds of neutrality seems a very weak argument.

My Humble Opinion and looking forward to a civilized online debate whenever possible and not particularly in secrecy !





to Babak Talebi

by azadeh_rassaf on

I appreciate your response to the comments greatly, thank you.

My comments however, may have been misunderstood.  That may be because of my anger and reaction to the embarassing youtube video and the comments of people who wrongly accuse professional organizations like yours and Amnesty International, who are trying to make a difference, of being affiliated with the Iranian government.

I agree that all organizations have a right to exist.  And they should.  There would be no growth and progress without opposing points of views.  But as you said, the first step towards democracy and civil society in our country starts with being able to tolerate each other, listen to each other, and be able to respectfully disagree with each other with dialouge and discourse even here, in a democracy.

Acting the way those people did at the meeting will get us nowhere and only embarasses us as a community.  It was very unfortunate.  I respect Amnesty International as an organization, and any other organization (like yours) that is trying to make a difference for the lives of Iranians, living in Iran or here, through professional and peaceful recourses.

More power to you.  And may you have better luck in the future.

Babak Talebi

More good questions.

by Babak Talebi on

A couple of quick notes:

Keyvan - no "drilling into our heads" needed. lol. we are not sponsored by "money oriented funders" whatsoever (see financial report). as for HR in US policy - please read Trita's Op-Ed in the Phillidelphia Enquirer which was also posted here a few days ago

Mr. Kadivar - thank you for your insightful and obviously informed comments. I would recommend you forward that post directly to Trita's email for the parts pertaining to him. The scars you speak of are very real and each of us (including my family and Tritas) have very deep scars born of the revolution (and the preceding years).

But at some point, our community has to move on and live in the present and future instead of the past. NIAC is trying to move in that direction. I wish I had more time to answer your substansive points, I may be able to get back to it later, but in truth, I think Trita would do a better job of addressing them.

nn - Amnesty set the rules. No placards. No cameras. why? because people like PARS TV would edit them out of recognition and broadcast them to Iran where it would have real-life effects on the panelists' family-members. These LA TV fools can not be trusted. period.

As for the legitimate points that were going to be raised by people like Manoucher Mohammadi (whose comments were edited out by the way - he was telling the protesters to sit down and let the event happen because "maa hammeh sa'al dareem - we all have questions we want to ask". that part of his sentence was cut off on the PARS video twice). We, including Trita, were looking forward to those questions and to answering them. We continue to engage in constructive discussion - even if we end up disagreeing. it is others who are disrupting discourse and trying to silence us.

They will not succeed.



Babak Talebi

Director of Community Relations, NIAC


"Promoting Iranian-American Participation in American Civic Life"

Babak Talebi

Wow - now THIS is dialogue :)

by Babak Talebi on

Obviously lots of comments and questions - let me say that I am very happy to see that the majority of comments are constructive, even if critical. I also note that when some of these radicals are directly challenged, they go away and stop commenting! Thanks to the many of you who took the time to comment, I truly wish I had time to be able to respond to you individually - but if you do have questions - PLEASE do feel free to email me directly as you will likely get an answer faster.

ok... where to start:

1) I want to thank B-naam in particular for his concise post below. he is pretty much dead-on. As well as the numerous other donors, members, and supporters of NIAC who are helping make our job easier in telling the community about our work. We cant do all our work without you, so thanks.

2) A very legit question on funding has been raised by anonymous! and others. go to this link:


not only do we post our IRS tax-returns but we have analyzed our financial support. in 2006 for example, only 15% of our funds came from donors in the $5000+ category. we hope to increase that. over 5 years (not including 2007 yet) about 71% of our money came from IAs and 29% came from American Foundations (all listed at the link)

3) Representing ALL IAs: I can only laugh at this idea. NO group ever claims to Represent ALL of a community. Even the NAACP does not claim to represent ALL Af. Ams. the LARGEST organization in the nation - AARP with over 40million members does not represent ALL retired people. So obviously NIAC does not rep all IAs. HOWEVER, we do represent OUR members, and polls show that our positions do reflect the MAJORITY position of IAs in the US.


4) Political Parties and the IRI: I will repeat. NIAC is NOT a political party and does not (and legaly can not) support any political parties (Democrats, Greens, Republicans) AND as an American organization NIAC can not advocate for any Iranian faction (Reformers, MKO, or otherwise). Once and for all - NIAC does not support the IRI. the same way we do not support the MKO. the same way we do not support the government of Zimbabwe or Thailand or Lichtenshtein. It is not and will never be our role. Plenty of opposition groups to choose from for that. Good luck!

5) Amnesty and other HR groups: to AliP, midwesty, and others. let me make clear, the event in California was NOT a NIAC sponsored event. it was an Amnesty sponsored event where NIAC was invited to speak (Amnesty was responsible for security and did not heed our advice on this). Our confrence in July WAS a NIAC sponsored event where Amnesty and HRW were invited to speak. you can find that report and transcript on our website as well. Also - NIAC is NOT an HR organization, but we WILL work with legitimate HR organizations to affect US policy that can have a positive impact on Iran's ABYSMAL HR record.

6) CASMII: to Jamshid and others - NIAC and and CASMII are to seperate organizations and have NOTHING to do with each other. though we appreciate their work, we do not agree with ALL of their methods. NIAC is the only organization that speaks for NIAC.

7) Bottom-Up vs Top-Down: to Kamangir, Ali, Azadeh_rassat, Manesh, and Amir Khosrow S. and others. First - we strongly believe all other organizations hae a right to exist and work for their cause. Paya, PersianPAC, IAPAC, MEHR and the dozens of MKO front groups (although MKO/NCRI is a recognized terrorist group and it is illegal for them to opperate in the US and most of Europe). So every one of these groups can do its own work. more power to them.

NIAC: NIAC has over 2000 paying members in 44 states and 30,000 supporters on its email list in all 50. Each year, over 20,000 letters are written to congress from NIACs website. We have never conducted a membership drive and over the next 2 years we will.

Bottom-up: When NIAC was founded by 5 people, we conciously decided to keep its board a closed group because we had a specific mission in mind and we did not want it hijacked by more organized Pahlavi-ites and MKO types. unfortunately, with the lack of civil society experience in our community, we simply did not trust our community to be effective (as countless pre-NIAC organizations have fallen apart).

As b-naam pointed out - we do take votes from our members when we want to change our mission and we take that very seriously. Our board consists of 16 individuals from all corners of the US each and every one of them very successful in their fields and well known and respected in their communities.

Our staff works diligantly every day to protect the rights of our community, inform our supporters and members about what happens in DC that might affect their lives, and educate our members and community on how they can become effective in the political process.

So - this charge of top-down vs bottom-up has some legitimacy. but we have never claimed to represent ALL IAs, just that we DO advocate for positions that a MAJORITY of IAs espouse. And as far as any evidence suggests, we ARE the most grass-roots and national organization in the US. That may change one day, but it is true today and if we continue to do our work and build our reputation - it will continue.


Ok, sorry if I did not get to your specific questions, please do email me. And I want to particularly thank the DOZENS of you who have emailed me over the last 3 days with your very kind and supportive words. I have to get back to work (sorry for the mis-spellings - I'm short on time), and hopefully I can continue this dialogue with you all in the future.


Best of luck to you all,


Babak Talebi

Director of Community Relations, NIAC


"Promoting Iranian-American Participation in American Civic Life"


Iranian ex-political

by nn (not verified) on

Iranian ex-political prisoners were ready to debate NIAC et al. However, the crowd reacted when they were told only one camera is allowed to report the event! Why ony one camera???


@ Keyvan

by manesh on

You do a lot of "believing" and "feeling" but not much reasoning.  Who says NIAC is a bunch of businessmen who are in it to make money from trade with IRI?

As for being a "special interest group", well, yes.  Iranian-Americans are a special interest group. What's wrong with that?  And if they are acting out of "self interest", good!  Better than some people who act out of "self disinterest".

Who are we/you to "drill human rights" into NIAC's head?  Who are you to "anger and alienate" them?   It's an organization they have put together with their own work within their own rights.  You can support them or oppose them, but  don't own them and you don't dictate to them.  


Where is Bob Ney?

by Anonymous200 (not verified) on

Is Bob Ney still in the federal penitentiary?!


I wonder Why Trita refuses to go on VOA-TV

by Anonymous311 (not verified) on

I wonder why Mr. or Dr. Trita Parsi and Co. constantly refuse to appear on VOA-TV Farsi programs, also broadcast into Iran to clarify NIAC's position? Not everybody has access to Internet, to this site or their won Website to find out about them but I know for sure that a lot of people including a lot of Iranian-Americans tune into VOA-TV Farsi programs religiously.

The show hosts on VOA-TV have repeatesly claimed that Mr. Parsi has continuously turned down their invitations to appear on their shows! Why?



by Midwesty on

I am much in favor of NIAC than those dinosaurs who claim to know everything. I see NIAC trying to be professional in conduct and I admire it even when I see they lack a lot of hard work that is required at the initial steps of any new nonprofit organizations. On the other hand I see no brain on the opposing side, no professionalism, no new ideas (Wait! Except glue, nail and salt), lack of objectives, distracted minds, a lot of anger, and lot of fat lazy asses. I see many people in my age think the same way. We need a progressive movement and NIAC is the first one.  

Darius Kadivar

FYI/Conversations with History - Trita Parsi (youtube)

by Darius Kadivar on

I have no real opinion on NIAC or Trita Parsi ( who comes across as a bright and intelligent theorist in geo politics).

I recommend you to watch this interview where he speaks about his personal and academic background, NIAC and his book about the US-Israel and Iran relations:


I think it is important to be open to debate rather than slandering one another. I do not share Mr. Trita's optimism in regard to the positive results that would result in a normalization of Relations with Iran's current theocracy. Nor do I think that brandishing the souveniers of the events of 1953 and the downfall of Mossadegh as the ONLY moment when Iran experienced democracy a valid point. I think Mr. Parsi neglects and belittles the importance of the Constitutional Movement of 1906 that could be refered to as a constructive process in not only institutionalizing the role of the monarch as accountable to the people and not to GOD through divine Rule but also remains a particularly important era in Iran's contemporary history regardless of whether the Pahlavi monarch's did not respect it entirely.

I also wanted to draw attention on a photo from 1977/1978 of Mr. Trita Parsi's former teacher and Political Mentor Zbigniew Brzezinski in the Oval Office with President Jimmy Carter, Ardeshir Zahedi ( Iran's Ambassador in Washington), and last but not least Crown Prince Reza Pahlavi :


I wonder if Mr. Trita Parsi could not find common ground with Crown Prince Reza Pahlavi ( Who also has educated supporters and not just a Fanatic driven constituency as unfortunately displayed by some LA TV's) ?

I think and like to insist that dialogue is important between people with different agenda's or political convictions. NIAC in turn has also indulged frequently in some anti-Monarchist rhetoric which I think was far fetched, reductive and certainly has been responsible for some of the bitter reactions that some people have displayed as to your "Representation of ALL Iranians" in America and maybe beyond that of All Diaspora Iranians: Some of whom were in Iran during the revolution ( unlike Mr. Parsi himself who according to the interview left Iran prior to the Revolution and grew up in Sweden althoug his father was arrested under the Shah and under Khomeiny's regime ) through the revolution in Iran and have had family members killed or tortured.

Pragmatism by NIAC should also require NIAC's understanding of the deep scars that have not been healed ( and will probably never heal for those concerned) over the last 30 years of political and physical repression by the current theocracy.

One other factor that NIAC neglects to take into account (and coming from a Zoroastrian like Mr. Parsi which I found that kind of surprising ) is his neglect of the important role that Iranian Monarchy has played in defining Iranian Identity for more than 25 centuries. Beyond the undeniable fact that it was toppled by a popular revolution ( popular at best back in 1979) most Iranians would agree that the fall of the monarchy has been a true setback for Iran on nearly all levels be it economic, social or in regard to its terrible Human Rights Record that remains unprecededant in its history ( including under the authoritarian rule of the last Shah and most Iranian Kings.).

If Mr. Parsi is indeed calling for a cool minded and unpassionate look at the dillema's faced in bringing Iran back on the International scene no more as a threat but a power responsible enough to accept dialogue beyond ideological and religious rhetoric and become pragmatic then why not encourage civil dissobedience towards the Iranian Regime as vouched by most secular opposition groups including both Constitutional Monarchists and secular Republicans ? As far as I see it neither support violence and you cannot certainly claim that Reza Pahlavi ( call him Crown Prince or Not) calls for a violent overthrow of the current Theocracy. Some of his followers mostly marginal die hard monarchists ( certainately NOT Constitutionalists in the true word ) may not share his approach but I do think that what the former Crown Prince Reza Pahlavi clearly outlined in his Book Winds of Change and eversince his involvment in politics has been quite clear and unambiguous as to what he advocates in terms of political opposition to the IRI: That of Non Violent Civil Disobedience.

I would also like to repeat that I think that Mr. Parsi is a very bright and intelligent man and should be given the chance of developing his theories. However he should also be aware that by entering the arena of politics he is also stepping out of a purely Academic approach to that of turning NIAC into a political forum. In that case it will need to clarify its position. Do you stand as a political opposition group or simply a platform of interesting yet purely intellectual discourse? If you want to play an active political role then you will also have to accept that dissent and critics exist because unfortunately there is competition in this arena and you will not be the first nor the last to have tried. Others have before you in the past like Mr. Shapour Bakhtiar ( who despite being an unconditional nationalist and mossadeghi accepted to become the Shah's Prime Minister against all Odds) who gave his life in the process for the ideas of democracy and Human Rights for which I believe you also Stand for as the ultimate goal for Iran.

I think that there is no real opposition or contradiction between what you are advocating for Iranians than what other secular democracts be them Republican or Constitutional Monarchists do EXCEPT that you may have to clarify your position in regard to the Iranian theocracy which at worst is still very much ambiguous. I do not see anyone in Iran today who can claim to much credibility or trust including Khatami or so called pragmatic Rafsanjani for the first simply was not able to deliver what he promised to the masses and the second has a terrible record for sponsoring death squads against opposition leaders or political murders of all sorts. Besides he owns half of Iran's economy thanks to his family's fortune and networks. As for the reformists like Ibrahim Yazdi they are accountable on many levels the first being their revolutionary record and responsability in the current mess not to say execution of many civil servants and not just military members of the Shah's regime. 

So who do you advocate a dialogue with today ? If you have names set them forward and lets investigate on their past and credentials within the regime and see if they can indeed lead to an Islamic Perestroika ?

Like in everything and particularly in regard to politics it is important to be patient and also open minded.

Your enemies may not be the ones who necessarily critisize or oppose you.

I sincerely hope that in the future a civilzed dialogue will prevail between Iranians of the Diaspora ( regardless of ideology or political preference )rather than unnecessary, counterproductive and unrecommendable violence.  

Iran Hargez Nakhahad Mord -Shapour Bakhtiar

My Humble Opinion too,



I never liked NIAC, but I've come to a few conclusions...

by Keyvan on

I have never supported NIAC. I see them as a special interest entity funded by wealthy profiteering Iranian-Americans who out of self-interest wish to establish trade ties between the US and Iran - with little to no concern for human rights.

Though, over the years I have come to accept the fact that they are all too powerful, and have established themselves as the dominant voice in the United States of Iranian Americans. It seems that the rest of the Iranian community is either unwilling or unable to make a decent organization that speaks for the Iranian American people and not special interest Iranians.

However, I also believe that most people getting involved with NIAC are not of the aforementioned profiteering persuasion. That is, NIAC can be lead to more specified docterines depending on who's involved.

Getting them more closely associated with Amnesty International, and co-operating with other Iranian Human Rights organizations can lead to a compromise.

I personally do not feel isolation or sanctions alone can bring desirable result in the arena of human rights. At the same time I do not feel that opening the flood gates of trade will help human rights either by marginalizing the role of government. Such a tactic has proven futile in China, Saudi Arabia, even Egypt, etc.

Rather, I think we can commence with dialogue as yes NIAC would like. However, only open and expand trade relations as conditional and correlative with human rights improvements and benchmarks on the part of the regime. It sounds so simple, but its fair to all sides.

So yes, lets let NIAC participate with Amnesty as much as possible, lets drill human rights into the heads of NIAC as much as possible. Lets anger and alienate their money oriented funders. Its really the best and only way.



by Kamangir on

NIAC, MEHR or PARS TV are all the same to the millions of Iranians suffering the brutal repression of the Isalmo-Fascist regime. The students at the university of Shiraz are doing what none of the members of the above self-proclaimed human rights groups or organizations would dare to do.

Believe me, NIAC, MEHR and other entities living in the West, enjoying freedom of speech, all these groups are NOT doing anything for Iran. What has NIAC managed to do?

Mrs. Nazanian Afshar-Jam, on her own has done much more than all of you toghether. Do you hear me Mr. Talebi?

The National Iranian american Council is more concerned with the issues of the Iranian comunity in the US and I should remind you that the main issue is Iran and NOT the Iranians living in American with their council.



Shamefull 3rd World behaviour

by Mani321 (not verified) on

Just because an organization does not espouse your point of view, does not make them agents of the CIA, IRI, etc.
In it's short life, NIAC has accomplished more than the Tehrangelesee mouth pieces have in the past 30 years.
You disagree with thier mission or thier position on issues? Fine. That is perfectly within your rights. But hurling insults and accusations without one shred of proof is childish and irresponsible.
I know I'm talking to deaf ears, when it comes to the Tehrangeles "intelectuals", but this is my two cents worth.
Now let the insults fly.....


Is NIAC an authentic grass

by Anonymousa (not verified) on

Is NIAC an authentic grass roots organization, as Parsi claims? It’s hard to know. Or is NIAC the pet project of a handful of wealthy Iranian donors, who may be promoting their own business interest in resumed trade with Iran? We will never know.

What's indisputable is that according to Mr. Parsi’s voluminous public statements and essays, NIAC’s agenda dovetails with the reformers in Iran.



Iran's problem isn't radical

by An iranian graduate student in the US (not verified) on

Iran's problem isn't radical Islamic rulers.
It's the broad inability to tolerate any opposing opinion. Something that's equally common among pro and anti ISR people. Disgusting.


1) Ansar hezbollah break into a meeting, shouting 'down with the US', destroying any chance of dialog, and scattering people.

2) Parvin breaking into the talk, shouting 'down with ISR', destroying any chance of dialog, and scattering people.

I can't see a difference. Disgusting!


To jamshid

by Ali (not verified) on

It is time people learn to analyze and criticize in a more structured way. It is very draining, frustrating and time-consuming for activists and NGOs to always have to respond to criticisms and speculations that do not follow even the most basic principles.

An organization that has defined it own field of activity can NOT be held accountable for not taking position in other areas. NIAC has defined its mission as to protect the interest of the Iranian-American community in the U.S, and for that, it has short term and long term goals and specific tools of action. It doesn't have to chant anti I.R slogans or to denounce the political executions of the 1360's or to take any action against drug addiction, prostitution or air pollution in Tehran.

NIAC is made of fairly professional, experienced and educated people, who closely follow the events in Washington, analyze and explain them to the Iranian-American community in forms of articles or panels or forums and sometimes take position or mobilize the community to take the necessary actions.

Now you can agree or disagree with their political analysis in their articles and panels, support or not support their actions, sign or not sign their petitions, but you can not criticize them outside of what they have defined as their mission.

Let's stop always looking for hidden agendas and conspiracies anytime some people decide to do more than just ranting. This is not the way to support and strengthen our civil society.


Thanks Babak56

by Hooman H (not verified) on

Babak jan,

Thanks for posting the video. I am just glad this thing didn't make the mainstream news. A truly shameful display. And to be honest, a bit scary. How many of these crazies are out there? Hopefully these guys are the minority when it comes to the greater IA community.



To B-Naam

by azadeh_rassaf on

Thank you for your insightful comments.  Hopefully those who want to will hear...


Pro Monarchists and MKO are anti-American

by William (not verified) on

The MKO and the pro-monarchists are anti-American.


Shame on our opposition groups.

by Anonymous00 (not verified) on

This is not the first time, MPG, Mehr Foundation, and MKO groups have disrupted a democratic gathering of Iranians.

Their argument is that if one does not swear at IRI or says bad things about IRI, therefore she or he supports it.

Grow up, many of us are old and lived under shah:

We could NOT swear at Shah or Savak. We cannot sear at IRI.

I am happy that some of you are getting to know MasoudA, Amil Imani, Amir Sheibany, Babak56, and few others who one can easily recognize.
Only Amir Sheibany and Parvin of Mehr foundation are using their real names. People have hidden behind pseudo names living in the West and have been shouting for many years without any results.

I also contributed to NIAC. They are better than opposition groups. What a disgrace Pars TV was in the video. Is it how the opposition wants to change Iran? This video must be saved for everyone to see and learn from it.

Stop accusing those who are doing something positive. Organize your own meetings and invite people to attend and listen to you too. MPG and Mehr foundation are incapable of doing what NIAC has done.
Shame on our opposition groups.


To Jamshid

by B-Naam on

Dear Jamshid, You bring up some interesting points.  Let me start by stating that I am not familiar and have had no interaction with CASMII, so the following is regarding NIAC.  Let me also tell you that I am not on NIAC's Board of Directors.  I am simply a NIAC member and volunteer and what I am about to say is my own opinion and is based on my own interpretation of my interaction with NIAC's leadership and Board.  Obviously, I am a supporter.  You can read and judge by yourself.  NIAC has a policy of not interfering in Iran's internal matters and its main focus are Iranian-American issues.  It will only discuss internal matters when it pertains to foreign policy issues, such as the nuclear issue or in this case human rights.  One may argue that human rights is universal and is not considered to be an internal matter for countries anymore.  Well, as we speak, NIAC is asking its members how it should approach the human rights situation in Iran.  It may sound to you and I as a no-brainer, but NIAC has a history of soliciting inputs from its members and the Board of Directors, no matter how trivial or obvious the issues sound.  In this sense, it's a very democratic organization.  Now it is true that the President of NIAC, Trita Parsi, is the face of the organization and appears to be very influential in its decision making, but let me assure you that everything is discussed extensively by the Board and only when agreed and voted on, the organization proceeds accordingly.  NIAC does not condone IRI's human rights violations.  It simply states that current U.S. policy worsens the situation.  It seeks to improve the situation by advocating a more effective U.S. policy.  It by no means believes that if U.S. takes the correct course of action, the human rights violations go away.  It, however, believes that correct course of action will benefit the democratic and modernizing forces within Iran and the rest is up to them.  To call them pro-IRI is simply accusing them because they don't have a violent solution such as overthrow of the regime, which may cause more bloodshed and chaos for a very long time.  Remember, we did that 29 years ago.  It's just a difference of opinion on what should be done.  That's all.  NIAC is not a militant organization.   

I hope I at least shed some light on your questions and comments.  Babak, please correct me if my assessment is wrong.

One last thing.  You state that why on this site and other sites pro-IRI people support NIAC?  How can you make that judgment?  Have you ever met a NIAC supporter?  Have you known a NIAC supporter personally?  Have you ever asked them why they support this organization?  How can you make that judgement by reading comments from faceless people on a Website?  I can tell you that NIAC supporters come in all shapes and sizes, and yes some may be Pro-IRI.  But they're definitely in clear minority.  And for me, that's not nearly a good enough reason not to support NIAC.

Jamshid, thank you for your questions, comments and thoughts. 



I beg you, beg you, beg you.

by javad (not verified) on

I beg you please have another one of these events and next time sell tickets. I swear i will buy a ticket and pay up to $50 to come watch this kind of stuff. If punches are thrown or any clothing items are ripped then i will pay more. That would be so fun to go to, especially on a Saturday night. Just put a bar on the side and let people have a beer and get a buzz before they watch the fight.

You can use the proceeds for NIAC general funds.