On December 16, 2011, Afkhami participated in Iranian Voices: What is happening today? A seminar about Iran and human rights at the Swedish National Theatre’s Södra Teatern. The Arabic spring is considered as the starting point of a new era in the Arabic world’s history. From Iran, however, it’s been very quite. The demonstrations were hushed up successfully and today pro-democracy movement appears underground. Come and meet human rights activists from Iran in the areas of LGBT, women’s rights and ethnic / religious minorities. The seminar is aimed primarily at people working within human rights and with the Middle East. Take the opportunity to pose questions to panelists. How can your organization and Sweden support the democracy movement in Iran?
Payam Akhavan is a lecturer and researcher in the fields of public international law and international criminal law. He has a particular interest in human rights, multiculturalism, war crimes prosecutions, UN reform and preventions of genocide. Working as well as a guest lecturer at the University of Toronto and Senior Fellow at Yale Law School and Yale University Centre for International Studies, he has published a number of books, for example ”Beyond impunity: Can International Criminal Justice Prevent Future Atrocities?” (2001), which was selected by the International Library of legislation theory and practice as one of ”the most significant papers published in today’s legal studies.” At the moment he works as an advisor on Iran issues to the Obama government and other politicians in the U.S. and in Canada. Payman will participate in the panel by Skype.
Mahnaz Afkhami a former Iranian Minister of Women’s Affairs who today is the founder and CEO of the Foundation for Iranian Studies and president of Women’s Learning Partnership (WLP). Afkhami has been a champion of women’s rights in more than three decades. She has founded several important non-governmental organizations, and has great experience & knowledge in lecturing and publishing on international women’s movement, women’s human rights, women in leadership, women and technology, and women’s participation in civil society building and democratisation. Mahnaz will participate in the panel by Skype.
Mehrangiz Kar is a prominent Iranian lawyer, human right activist and author. Mehrangiz Kar is one of the most celebrated activists in the history of women’s movement in Iran that goes back nearly for over a century. In 2002, the U.S. First Lady, Laura Bush, awarded her with the National Endowment for Democracy – Democracy award. She is the widow of Siamak Pourzand, a fellow Iranian dissident and former prisoner of conscience who committed suicide on April 29, 2011, after a long period of torture and imprisonment.
Arsham Parsi, a tireless advocate for LGBT issues, both internationally and in his country of birth, Iran. He is the founder and head of the Iranian Railroad for Queer Refugees (IRQR), an international non-profit organization based in Toronto, Canada. Arsham is also the coordinator and ambassador for the Stockholm-based organisation International Lesbian and Gay Cultural Network (ILGCN).
Roya Toloui is a prominent Kurdish/Iranian feminist, journalist and a human rights activist who currently resides in the United States. She is the chief editor and editor of the newspaper Rasan (Rise Up) and founder of the Association of Kurdish women who support peace in Kurdistan, and a member of the Kurdish PEN. With the newspaper Rasan, she managed to publish three issues before it was shut down by the Iranian regime. Because of her outspoken criticism of the regime and as an advocate for rights of Kurdish and Iranian women, she was accused of jeopardising national security. She was arrested and freed on bail, and then later applied for asylum in the U.S. in 2005.
Asieh Amini has dedicated a great part of her career to raise awareness about the situation for women in Iran who have been sentenced to stoning and death. She has worked for a long time, trying to eliminate stoning within the laws and for the removal of the death penalty completely, especially for young legislative offenders and women. For her work Asieh has been awarded the prestigious Hellman / Hammett price of the Human Rights Watch.
MODERATOR: Ardalan Shekarabi has worked at the Cooperative Institute and the Department of Justice, where he was a personal letter writer to Thomas Bodstrom. At the Swedish Social Democratic Youth League Congress in Karlstad in August 2003 Shekarabi was elected unanimously as the new chairman after Mikael Damberg. As chairman Shekarabi worked towards issues relating to the housing policy, youth unemployment, integration policy and the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
In 2011, the Swedish National Theatre’s (Riksteatern) project ”Iranian Voices”, supported by Sida (UD’s targeted funding for democracy and human rights issues). The project is a collaboration with Sweden Radio (Radio Theatre), builds on documentary stories with a focus on human rights in Iran, and operated in close collaboration with several international theaters and radio stations in Germany, Britain and Turkey. By dramatizing the stories on the radio about homosexuals and women in Iran in five different languages (Swedish, Persian, German, English and Turkish), we spread knowledge through both air and sound files on the net. The goal is to get a large spread over the whole world – even inside Iran. Some stories are now also animated and will be broadcasted via satellite television and in Sweden by Channel Worldwide. Part of the project consists of workshops in Sweden, Turkey, Germany and Britain.