March was a month of high activity for Stanford’s Iranian Studies Program, led by the popular political science professor Abbas Milani, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution.
On Wednesday, March 5, the program hosted an evening discussion with Katherine Koob on Iranian-American relations. Ms. Koob served in cultural affairs at the U.S. embassy in Tehran when it was overrun in 1979. She, along with 51 other American personnel, was held hostage for 444 days. One of two women to have been held for the duration, she is now an advocate for dialogue and reconciliation.
On Friday, March 7, Stanford and the Hoover Institution hosted a visit by Fariba Davoodi Mohajer. A prominent Iranian feminist and winner of the Human Rights First Award, Ms. Mohajer has suffered over many years—arrested, imprisoned, physically abused, and interrogated—at the hands of the mullah-dominated government in Tehran. She is a prominent advocate for the One Million Signatures Campaign, a grassroots movement that seeks to educate the Iranian people about human rights and to call for reform.
Finally, on Tuesday, March 11, the program presented the first annual Bita Prize for Literature and Freedom to Simin Behbahani. The prominent Iranian poet, who has earned the moniker “Lioness of Iran,” awed and inspired a packed Cubberley Auditorium with her acceptance speech. Her poems decry the injustice of a people subjected to the atrocities of a “blood thirsty regime” that has earned the condemnation of the international community.
“Of politics I understand little,” Ms. Behbahani said. “But I know something about kindness and love.”
She concluded: “We want a bright sun, bountiful springs, green fields, rich harvests, white flags, honor, and respect. With the hope that one day it may come to be.”
When it does come, let us hope America was on the right side of history.