While the world’s attention is focused on Iran’s nuclear program, the European Union and European Parliament (above) have broadened the agenda to include Iran’s poor record on human rights in a way that has spurred new debate within the Islamic Republic, says Barbara Slavin a correspondent for Al-Monitor and the author of Bitter Friends, Bosom Enemies: Iran, the US and the Twisted Path to Confrontation.
The Iranian government is hyper-sensitive about criticism of its detention of political dissidents and civic activists - nearly 900 of whom remain in jail, and about charges that the regime discriminates against women and religious and ethnic minorities, she writes:
While Rouhani has prioritized the nuclear issue and cannot dictate policy to the judiciary, which is run by a cleric directly appointed by Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Iranian leadership as a whole does respond to international pressure and cares about its image abroad. It was no accident that the regime freed about 80 political prisoners last September just before Rouhani came to New York for the annual meeting of the UN General Assembly. Among those freed was Nasrin Sotoudeh, a prominent human rights lawyer who was awarded the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought while she was in jail in 2012.
In anticipation of the fourth anniversary of Tavaana: E-Learning Institute for Iranian Civil Society, the E-Collaborative for Civic Education will hold an inaugural Tavaana Teacher Summit April 2-6, 2014 in Bethesda, Maryland. The Summit is a gathering of Tavaana’s global faculty for the purposes of strategic planning to evaluate Iranian civil society’s needs and how Tavaana can best continue to address those needs. During the four-day summit, Tavaana teachers will together shape the e-learning institute’s future growth while engaging in exercises with expert facilitators on civil society capacity building, democratic classrooms, civic education and effective e-learning techniques for the Iranian context.
Tavaana faculty members attending the summit include Arash Abadpour, Kamiar Alaei, Kazem Alamdari, Parviz Dastmalchi, Saghi Ghahraman, Nazila Ghanea, Mehdi Jami, Mehrangiz Kar, Mehdi Khalaji, Majid Mohammadi, Mohammad Reza Nikfar, Mansour Osanlou, Saeed Paivandi, Ramin Parham, Nima Rashedan, Saeed Sabzian, and Mohsen Sazegara.
Tavaana: E-Learning Institute for Iranian Civil Society, the flagship project of the E-Collaborative for Civic Education, supports active citizenship and civic leadership in Iran through a secure, Persian/English e-learning platform. Over 30,000 Iranians living throughout the country have applied to participate in Tavaana’s e-learning opportunities, with over 9,000 thus far having successfully completed e-courses, whether by correspondence or in live classrooms, on topics ranging from human rights advocacy to digital safety, leadership and democratic institution building, with millions more watching Tavaana content on satellite television channels.
Tavaana regularly publishes important e-books on topics ranging from liberal interpretations of Islam to Internet freedom to nonviolent civic resistance. The Persian/English e-learning portal features 100% free, open-access manuals, PowerPoint presentations, video lectures, and lecture podcasts as well as video interviews with prominent Iranian and international activists, case studies on civic movements for human rights and democracy worldwide, translations of democracy classics and texts written by Iranian civic leaders, animated public service announcements, an annotated e-library of Persian and English resources, robust, highly engaged social networks, and a digital safety and Internet freedom-sharing portal, TavaanaTech.
Tavaana teachers and Co-Directors Akbar Atri and Mariam Memarsadeghi are available for interviews throughout the Tavaana Teacher Summit. For more information or to arrange interviews, contact Abbey Warchol (firstname.lastname@example.org).
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