Audio: "Dashed Hopes: Iran's Human Rights Record Under President Rouhani"

A public luncheon briefing
hosted by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies
and the Foreign Policy Initiative

Under President Rouhani

Thursday, June 12

12:00 - 1:30 PM
Briefing and Q&A

Dirksen Senate Office Building
Room
G11

One year after Hassan Rouhani was elected president of Iran, what is the current and future outlook for human rights in the country? Have President Rouhani’s positive statements regarding rights and freedoms in Iran been backed up by any improvements? How can the U.S. and the international community help improve the human rights situation in Iran? As the P5+1 continue negotiations towards a possible final nuclear deal, will this current engagement lead to a shift toward greater freedoms for the Iranian people or will it lead to even greater restrictions?
 

Opening Remarks:
Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL)

Member of Senate Appropriations Committee

Congressman Ted Deutch (D-FL)
Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee

Speakers:
Ali Alfoneh
Foundation for Defense of Democracies
         
Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett
U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom

Arsham Parsi
Iranian Railroad for Queer Refugees

 

Speaker Biographies

Senator Mark Kirk served five terms in the House of Representatives before being elected to the Senate in 2010 and is a veteran of the United States Navy. He serves on four Senate Committees: Appropriations, Banking, HELP (Health, Education, Labor & Pensions), and Aging and is the Ranking Republican on the Appropriations Subcommittee for Military Construction and Veterans Affairs. Senator Kirk is a leader on national security issues, including efforts to address Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability, countering terrorism, and working with our allies to combat common enemies. With Senator Robert Menendez, he co-authored the Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act of 2013, which includes parameters of an acceptable nuclear deal with Iran and sanctions-in-waiting provisions if an acceptable deal isn't concluded by January, 2015. The Senator was recently published in The Daily Herald on human rights abuses against members of the Baha’i faith in Iran and is an outspoken critic of the Iranian regime’s human rights abuses.

CongressmanTed Deutch is serving his third term in the U.S. House of Representatives on behalf of Florida's 21st district. Rep. Deutch is a member of the House Judiciary Committee, the House Ethics Committee, and the House Foreign Affairs Committee, in which he serves as the Ranking Member on the Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee. A lifelong activist in the pro-Israel community, Rep. Deutch is an established leader on issues related to Iran's illicit quest for nuclear weapons. Several of his measures, including the Iran Transparency and Accountability Act and the Iran Human Rights and Democracy Promotion Act, earned strong bipartisan support during the 112th Congress and were later signed into law by President Obama as part of the Iran Threat Reduction Act. Rep. Deutch first gained expertise on issues related to Iran's nuclear weapons program when as a Florida State Senator he authored and passed the first law in the country divesting state pension funds from companies that do business in Iran.

Ali Alfoneh is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) and a top expert on Iran and the inner workings of its regime. Mr. Alfoneh came to FDD from the American Enterprise Institute, where he worked as a resident fellow specializing on civil-military relations in Iran and the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps. Mr. Alfoneh is the author of Iran Unveiled: How the Revolutionary Guards Is Transforming Iran from Theocracy into Military Dictatorship (AEI Press, April 2013) and the originator of the thesis that the Islamic Republic is transforming into a military dictatorship, which he first published in 2005, and has since been adopted by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird. Mr. Alfoneh grew up in Tehran, but moved to Denmark with his family in 1988. In 1993, he ran for public office, and served as elected member of the Herlev City Council from 1994 to 1998. He has written extensively on the leadership and inner workings of the Iranian regime.

Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett serves as Vice Chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF). She established the Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice in 2008 and serves as its President and Chief Executive Officer. Dr. Lantos Swett also teaches human rights and American foreign policy at Tufts University. Her varied professional experiences include working on Capitol Hill as Deputy Counsel to the Criminal Justice Sub-Committee of the Senate Judiciary Committee for then-Senator Joe Biden and as a consultant to businesses, charitable foundations, and political campaigns.

Arsham Parsi is an Iranian LGBT human rights activist who lives in exile in Canada. He is the founder and head of the Iranian Railroad for Queer Refugees (IRQR), an international, queer human rights organization based in Toronto, Canada. In addition to advocacy work, IRQR provides support and assistance to human rights refugees fleeing Iran. Mr. Parsi himself was forced to flee Iran in 2005 due to his fear of persecution and possible execution under the Islamic legal code of Lavat. Mr. Parsi works to make sure Iranian gay citizens are not being improperly treated. Prior to founding IRQR, Mr. Parsi was the executive director of the Iranian Queer Organization and director of the organization’s magazine, Cheraq.

Mark Dubowitz is the Executive Director of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, where he leads projects on Iran, sanctions, and nonproliferation. Dubowitz is an expert on sanctions and has testified before Congress and advised the U.S. administration, Congress, and numerous foreign governments on Iran sanctions issues. He is the co-author of five confidential reports on economic sanctions against Iran provided by FDD to the U.S. government and four public reports. Dubowitz is also a co-chair of the Project on U.S. Middle East Nonproliferation Strategy, a nonpartisan project co-chaired by five nonproliferation and sanctions experts, which produced a 2013 report on U.S. Nonproliferation Strategy for the Changing Middle East. Dubowitz is a senior research fellow at the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto where he teaches a graduate course and conducts research on international negotiations, economic sanctions, and Iran’s nuclear program.


 

Mission Statement

The Foreign Policy Initiative seeks to promote an active U.S. foreign policy committed to robust support for democratic allies, human rights, a strong American military equipped to meet the challenges of the 21st century, and strengthening America’s global economic competitiveness.
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