Dear friends of NUFDI,
2022 has been a year of unprecedented growth and success for our organization. The credit goes to our team and, of course, our supporters and donors, without whom our work in Washington, D.C., would not be possible. It gives me immense pride, as NUFDI’s president, to be able to work with our team to finally have a voice for our community in Washington, D.C. NUFDI’s growth could not come at a more important and historic time for our community and for our homeland, Iran.
As the Iranian people are engaging in an epic battle to reclaim their country from the Islamic Republic, we at NUFDI are redoubling our efforts to mobilize Iranian-Americans to be a voice for the Iranian people and to advance the values they are fighting and dying for. While we have much to be proud of in all NUFDI has accomplished in 2022, we are just getting started. We have much bigger plans ahead. We are not satisfied with our growth and our work– we are inspired and moved to do even more.
Thanks to your ongoing, generous support of NUFDI we will expand our team immensely in the first quarter of 2023. As our team grows, we will be better able to serve our community and advance our cause. We look forward to keeping you informed of this progress.
Below, you will see a broad overview of the work our team in Washington, D.C. has executed on in the past year thanks to you.
Dr. Saeed Ganji
NUFDI is, first and foremost, a nonpartisan advocacy organization. As such, we have always endeavored to develop and maintain relationships with both major American political parties and with elected and appointed officials across both the legislative and executive branch. As such, NUFDI began its high-level outreach to the Biden administration early in the year. On February 1st, 2022, NUFDI met with Deputy US Assistant Secretary of State for Iran and Iraq Jennifer Gavito at the State Department. In the meeting, members of the NUFDI team discussed four main issues: the necessity of hearing voices from inside Iran, the imperative of making human rights and democracy promotion the pillars of America’s Iran policy, the importance of the American government speaking out on the Islamic Republic’s crimes against humanity, and the importance of publicly engaging the Iranian-American community.
NUFDI continued its public advocacy throughout the rest of 2022, including through multiple open letters on behalf of the Iranian-American community advocating a human rights-centered Iran policy. One such letter, written in opposition to the Belgian adoption of a prisoner exchange treaty with the Islamic Republic, was released on July 5th and gained global attention. On October 4th, in response to the Islamic Republic’s intensifying jamming of international satellite transmissions as well as the beginning of the Mahsa Amini protests, NUFDI wrote an open letter to the State Department urging the Biden administration to enforce sanctions on Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB). The Office of Financial Asset Control revoked the waivers of sanctions on IRIB and imposed new sanctions on six of IRIB’s “interrogator-journalists” one month later on November 16th. Additionally, NUFDI wrote an open letter to the Biden administration on October 11th, 2022 urging it to reassess its Iran policy team led by Rob Malley and for it to freeze JCPOA negotiations, which it inevitably did.
NUFDI also continued its efforts on Capitol Hill by engaging with members of Congress and their staffers on Iran policy. From meetings on the Hill with senior members of Congress such as Rep. Mike Waltz of Florida, NUFDI engaged the offices of multiple members and committees in the House of Representatives and the Senate to advocate for policies that benefit the people of Iran. This resulted in multiple Congressional letters and influenced pieces of legislation including the MAHSA Act to support Iranian protesters in October.
As the Iranian people’s decades-long movement for freedom from the Islamic Republic began its most serious phase in the revolutionary protests that began after the murder of Mahsa Amini, NUFDI redoubled its public advocacy efforts by launching a campaign for Iranian-Americans to contact their federal elected officials in September. NUFDI engaged thousands of members of the community and provided resources for them to directly contact their Congressional representatives, including phone and email templates. This campaign facilitated hundreds of members of the community to contact their representative and urge them to be a voice for the Iranian people and their revolution.
As a grassroots, Iranian-American organization NUFDI toured the United States meeting with members of the community in New York, Los Angeles, Orange County, Fresno, San Francisco, Atlanta, Phoenix, and other cities across the country. The interest generated, particularly among the younger generation of Iranian-Americans, was an exciting step forward in building NUFDI’s grassroots relationships across the Iranian-American community. In each city, members of NUFDI met with a diverse cross-section of the community, often holding town-hall style meetings to discuss NUFDI’s mission and work and to hear from our constituents about their priorities.
Additionally, on March 20th, NUFDI held its premier annual Norooz Gala at The Hay Adams. The event was emceed by celebrated actress and human rights activist, Nazanin Boniadi and featured a musical performance by award-winning guitarist Babak Amini. The event, joined by senior administration officials and leaders in the Iranian-American artistic community, was an opportunity to highlight Iran’s ancient culture and arts in the heart of Washington, D.C.
NUFDI also supported multiple on-the-ground protests and demonstrations to show Iranian-Americans’ solidarity with the people of Iran and their struggle for democracy. One such event was held in front of the former Iranian embassy on June 5th, featuring a musical performance by Iranian guitarist and singer Arash Sobhani.
Finally, NUFDI organized and hosted Iran Rising, an historic protest art exhibit held at the Fathom Gallery in Georgetown. The event, curated and designed by a team of leading Iranian-American women artists and designers, was originally supposed to run from November 19th to November 20th, but was extended to the 22nd due to popular demand. Thousands of members of the community came to see the exhibition in the four days that it was held and the event was featured in a prominent segment on CNN. NUFDI was honored that Empress Farah Pahlavi attended Iran Rising’s Opening Night and inaugurated the gallery exhibit with an inspiring talk about the importance of art in Iranian culture and the bravery of Iranian women.
Iran policy in Washington has long lacked a consistent presence from the Iranian-American community. This year, NUFDI changed that by hosting the inaugural Iran Conference on February 10th. The conference, the first of its kind by an Iranian-American organization, hosted 30+ speakers from Washington’s most respected think tanks across the ideological spectrum. Also among the speakers were two former US Special Envoys for Iran, Brian Hook and Elliott Abrams and other former senior administration officials. The conference also provided a forum to leading Iranian activists and experts in addition to American elected officials to discuss events inside Iran, US-Iran relations, and other critical areas. The conference, covered by all major Persian language news outlets, was attended by hundreds of experts, journalists, activists, and members of the Iranian-American community and made a lasting impact in Washington.
On May 11th, NUFDI held The Vienna Talks, a two-part event focused on the potential threats posed by the JCPOA and examining alternative paths forward. The event was moderated by Bloomberg’s Eli Lake. Speakers included former Deputy National Security Advisor Victoria Coates, Ilan Berman of the American Foreign Policy Council, and other esteemed experts.
NUFDI’s work is based on its dedication to the human rights of the Iranian people and mobilizing Iranian-Americans to support them. On September 8th, NUFDI publicly wrote to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), one of America’s leading LGBTQ+ advocacy organizations calling on them to be a voice for those sentenced to death for “promoting homosexuality” by the Islamic Republic in Iran. Weeks later, the UNHRC released a statement demanding a stay of execution for those mentioned in NUFDI’s letter, helping bring worldwide attention to the plight of the LGBT community in Iran.
Furthermore, NUFDI supported a historic federal lawsuit against the Islamic Republic’s president, Ebrahim Raisi for torture. The unprecedented lawsuit was announced at a press conference in New York City September 20th. The lawsuit, headed by lead attorney Shahin Milani, was historic for bringing together former Western hostages and Iranian victims of Ebrahim Raisi. The plaintiffs, represented by their attorney, alleged Mr. Raisi was personally responsible for their torture while in the custody of the Islamic Republic. The press conference was held the day before Raisi’s speech at the United Nations General Assembly and was covered by over two dozen media outlets, including France24, AFP, and BBC Persian. The event was also broadcast live in French on France24.
As global attention turned to the World Cup, on November 18th, NUFDI called on FIFA to protect players’ and fans’ right to protest and show solidarity with the Iranian people as the protest movement inside the country grew. NUFDI also warned of the targeted harassment, intimidation, and violence that protesting Iranians at the World Cup are likely to be victims of as retribution from the Islamic regime and asked that measures be put in place for their protection.
NUFDI’s work in the past year was highlighted in more than 60 different global news outlets in English, Persian, French, Spanish, Arabic, and other languages. This included prominent news coverage in some of the country’s largest and most mainstream outlets including CNN, Fox News, Politico, France24, The Hill, BBC Persian, and others. The NUFDI team has appeared in interviews and offered analysis in television, radio, podcast, and other appearances across digital and traditional media as well as provided ongoing news advisories to 200+ international journalists on events in Iran.
Furthermore, our social media has continued to grow to spread the word about NUFDI’s work and our cause. Our Twitter and Instagram followings have increased by 95% and 200%, respectively, in the last year as NUFDI continues to reach more members of the Iranian-American community.
The organization also continued to grow as we added new community leaders to our Advisory Council. These new members include esteemed economist Mohammad R. Jahan-Parvar, Ph.D., celebrated guitarist and musician Babak Amini, renowned journalist Nazanin Ansari, and 2014 “TIME Person of the Year” Pardis Sabeti. This year, we were also proud to announce Shahpar Razmzan as the new Chair of the Board of Directors.