Press Release: Conference on Pathways for Transition to a Secular Democratic Iran to be Held at Stanford University
Palo Alto, California. On March 25-26, 2023, the Conference, entitled “Dialogues on Transition to Secular Democracy”, is co-organized by the Gozar.org independent expert collective, KAI, and the Hamid and Christina Moghadam Program in Iranian Studies at Stanford. The conference will explore challenges and pathways of transitioning from the Islamic Republic regime in Iran to a secular democracy. Inspired by the Woman, Life, Freedom movement in Iran, the Conference will convene a diverse set of thought-leaders, experts, and civil society activists to support dialogue and discourse around the establishment of a new democratic system of governance in Iran.
The people of Iran continue to participate in mass civil disobedience, nation-wide protests and industry-wide labor strikes. Following the killing of Zhina Mahsa Amini, a 22-year old Kurdish woman, by the “morality police,” thousands upon thousands of protestors, led by young women and girls, have joined the rallying call “Jin, Jiyan, Azadi” (“Woman, Life, Freedom”) that originated with Kurdish feminists 43+ years ago. Over 500 protestors have been killed by the police, countless others have disappeared, over 20,000 students, activists, journalists, workers, artists, lawyers and other protesting members of civil society have been imprisoned, and several have been executed on bogus charges. It is evident that the Islamic Republic cannot reform, and the great majority of people of Iran demand a regime change and a secular democracy. ََ
Inspired by the Woman, Life, Freedom movement in Iran, the “Dialogues on Transition to Secular Democracy” conference is a two-day event aiming to foster dialogue and debate on what is needed to transition to a secular democracy in Iran. Co-organized by the Gozar.org independent expert collective, KAI, and the Hamid and Christina Moghadam Program in Iranian Studies at Stanford University in the heart of Silicon Valley, it will convene a diverse set of thought-leaders, experts, and civil society activists to support dialogue and discourse around the establishment of a new democratic system of governance in Iran. More than 30 panel talks, 24 roundtables, 50+ speakers, and more than 100+ experts and civil society activists are planned for the event.
According to Prof. Maryam Saeedi, the spokesperson for the Gozar.org collective, “the conference features some of the most prominent Iranian diaspora academics, activists, and experts from various domains, including human rights, political science, law, economics, sociology, technology and civil society, who will offer their unique perspectives and insights into the intricate issues facing Iran today. Attendees will have the opportunity to engage in thought-provoking discussions, explore innovative solutions, and network with other experts and activists”.
"Times of transition are full of peril and promise. This conference, in this pivotal moment, is the largest joint effort by an academic institution and two nascent but powerful Iranian civil society diaspora organizations to study and understand, through the prism of scholarship and praxis, failed and successful transitions to democracy and map out a road to realizing the 150 years old dream of a secular democratic Iran." says Prof. Abbas Milani, the Director of the Iranian Studies Program at Stanford and one of the co-organizers of the conference.
Some of the expert topics covered at the conference include:
● key challenges and pathways for a democratic transition
● the role of women, labor, and minority movements in leading the movement
● non-violent struggle and bottom-up movements
● the view from inside Iran: Iranian activists voices
● legal foundations of the transition, justice seeking, and truth and reconciliation
● human rights violation data collection for tribunals
● the role of the Iranian diaspora in supporting the movement
● ensuring inclusion of minority demands and rights in the movement
● the role of technology and information in empowering the movement
According to Faraj Aalaei, the Co-Founder of KAI, “The future of any democratic movement is intrinsically tied to the availability of untethered exchange of fact based information and the ability of citizens to freely communicate with each other and the world. Unconstrained Information access is a national treasure which does not belong to the rulers. It is the humanistic and national duty of technology leaders to protect this critical imperative.”
Given the expertise driven nature of the conference, attendance is by invitation only. Participants come from a wide range of political and social perspectives and their attendance at the conference does not signal their agreements on a single approach to a democratic transition. Rather the goal of this conference is to identify points of agreement as well as disagreement in an open and respectful dialogue that is the basis of an inclusive and democratic society. All panel sessions, which are primarily in Persian, at the conference will be recorded and published on Youtube for the Iranian public to access shortly after the conference to allow for maximum exposure and transparency into the discussions.
Contact: Press Team
Gozar.org, Iranian Studies Program at Stanford, and KAI
info [at] gozar.org (info[at]gozar[dot]org)
Gozar.org is an independent, voluntary, and nonpartisan collective of individual Iranian academics, entrepreneurs, lawyers, civil rights activists, cultural figures, and professionals with diverse political and societal beliefs based inside Iran and worldwide, coming together to explore shared vision, and strategies for a democratic transition in Iran.
About the Hamid and Christina Moghadam Program in Iranian Studies at Stanford University
The Iranian Studies Program at Stanford provides an interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary platform for the study of modern Iranian history, culture, politics, society, and economy. Established in 2004 and led by Dr. Abbas Milani, the program serves as a forum for scholars, experts, practitioners, and artists from Stanford and beyond to teach, collaborate, and study Iran.
KAI, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization based in the heart of Silicon Valley and with the goal to build free technology platforms and services that help Iranians safely communicate, build consensus, and develop and distribute content without detection. The members, builders, and leaders of KAI are volunteers that are best-in-breed scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, and business leaders based in the diaspora. KAI does not accept any funding from any government.