MehrAngiz Kar Talk at MIT about
“Women and Presidential Elections in Iran”
(a brief Report)
by: Mohammad Behnood
May 17, 2009
Ms. Mehrangiz Kar, the prominent Iranian attorney and human/women rights expert/activist, gave an enlightening talk on May 17, 2009 at MIT under the title of:
Her talk was part of the closing event for the
(In recognition of Iranian Women Struggle for
Justice, Equality, and Freedom
during the past 3 decades)
A total of 5 highly rated movies screened during this festival, every Sunday, from April 12, to May 17, 2009. These movie screenings and its closing event were all sponsored by
which had also organized another event at MIT in January 2009 called:
(A journey into some aspects of
Iranian history, society and culture
during past 5 decades).
The May-17 event attracted over 100 people despite being held on the Sunday, a day before MIT final exams start. The audience was consisted of men/women, Iranian/foreigner, students/faculty, and many community leaders from inside and outside MIT present. It had an exceptional number of audience comparing to similar events in recent years. For example, multiple times more people attended this event, even in comparison to other well-organized and widely advertised MIT talks such as:
This was yet another indication that the community not only is interested in but also values quality events, as MIT authorities did by announcing it on the home page of MIT web site as the top campus events on May 17, 2009.
The May-17 event started promptly at 5pm and formally ended as scheduled at 8pm but many stayed until 9pm to exchange ideas with the speakers and others during the reception.
Screening of Video Clips: “History of Women Movements in Iran”
In the first part of the program, the following set of 5 informative short video clips about the history of women rights movements in Iran were shown:
Iranian Women in Power (10 min.)
State versus Iranian Filmmakers (15 min.)
Women Right’s in Iran - part 1 of 7 (10 min.)
Introduction by Dr. Taalebinezhaad
Dr. Ali Taalebinezhad, the founder and director of Shirin Science Center (an Influential Iranian NGO), gave his brief introduction on:
“Iranian Government vs. Independent Civil Organizations”
He explained how Ahmadinejad regime systematically started closing down all the independent civil organizations in Iran as soon as he got to power in 2005. He continued his talk by giving some details about the illegal and brutal tactics that Ahmadinejad regime used for closing Shirin Science Center which had over 100+ volunteered staff and 1,500+ members, just because it was independently promoting the advancement of Science, Technology, and Culture among the young generation in Iran and was giving equal opportunities to women and men at all levels. You can learn more about the detailed story at:
Dr. Taalebinezhaad concluded his remarks by emphasizing the importance of not self-censoring and instead being socially responsible, especially when it comes to dealing with a regime like Ahmadinejad. He ended his talk by the following statement:
“President Obama in his 2009 message to Iranian people for Norouz (Iranian New year), used the first line from the famous poem by Sa’di (legendary Iranian Poet) as the hallmark of his speech which translates to:
The children of Adam are limbs to each other,
having been created from one essence.
This line simply states the base but the most important part of that poem, namely its concluding lines were missing from Obama’s message, where it says:
When the calamity of time afflicts one limb,
the other limbs cannot remain at rest.
If you have no sympathy for the troubles of others,
you are not worthy of being called a human.”
Talk by Ms. Mehangiz Kar
Ms. Mehrangiz Kar who is currently the visiting fellow at the Human Rights Program at Harvard Law School could communicate in English but decided to give her 1-hour talk in Persian in order to avoid simplifying the legal codes and arguments. Instead Ms. Azadeh Pourzand who is doing her graduate studies at Harvard Kennedy School of Government professionally presented the live English translation for the talk. Ms. Kar used her social and legal insights and experience to draw a clear picture of the human and woman rights violations in Iran with an emphasis on the role of women in the upcoming June-12 presidential election. The following is a list of her articles which give the details about some of the issues she covered in her talk at MIT:
Election Hyper Energy (May 8, 2009)
Iranian Women and the Tenth Presidential Election (May 4, 2009)
Women and the Tenth Administration (Apr. 19, 2009)
Discrimination against Women under Iranian Law (Dec. 11, 2008)
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Dec. 20, 2008)
I Am Attracted by the Candidates’ Speeches (BBC, May 26, 2009)
For more information about Mehrangiz Kar other articles, books and especially her intriguing and detailed biography, please visit her website at:
Q/A Session and Appreciation Certificate
Mehrangiz Kar talk was followed by a 30-minute open question and answer session. At the end, she was presented with an MIT writing gift set and a framed Appreciation Certificate by Ms. Anahita Maghami and Dr. Ali Taalebinezhaad on behalf of MIT Iranian Cultural Group. You can find an image of Ms. Kar’s Appreciation Certificate at:
This event officially ended around 8pm but many stayed to about 9pm to talk to the speakers and other audience during the reception.