Event to be broadcast into Iran via satellite TV
CAMBRIDGE – On Saturday (March 18) Harvard University will host the Iran Freedom Concert, a rally organized by Harvard students to support their counterparts in Iran.
Prominent Iranian student leader Akbar Atri and Harvard's student body president John Haddock will address the crowd. Azar Nafisi, author of Reading Lolita in Tehran, will be sending a statement of support.
"As tensions rise over nuclear issues, our diverse student coalition wants to spotlight the human side of the Iran crisis," said co-organizer Adam Scheuer, a senior and editor at the Harvard Middle East Review.
"Iranian students are denied basic rights Americans take advantage of every day. But there is a brave student movement in Iran working for change, and we need to support them." Widespread student protests in Iran have broken out in recent years, despite a brutal crackdown by the regime's security forces.
The concert, which begins at 9 p.m. at Leverett House, features leading campus musicians and speakers from campus groups exposing repression in Iran. Nine organizations are co-sponsoring, including an unusual alliance of campus Democrats and Republicans.
"The coalition doesn't take a stand on policy debates like foreign intervention," explained freshman co-organizer Alex McLeese. "But we agree that the fundamental rights of Iranians cannot be held hostage to diplomatic maneuverings over Iran's nuclear program."
The Iran Freedom Concert takes place just before the traditional Persian new year of Norouz – reflecting the students' hope for a new day for freedom in Iran.
"Iranian students are arrested for what they write on their blogs and have to take their exams in handcuffs," noted freshman co-organizer Nick Manske. "In fact, the essential elements of this concert are illegal in Iran: live singing, mixed dancing, and discussing social messages. Not to mention the restrictions on women, minorities, and journalists."
That message is being echoed on campuses across the country, with simultaneous rallies planned at Georgetown, UPenn, Duke, and other schools. Prominent Iranian dissidents, as well as the American Islamic Congress, are sending statements of support. The event will be broadcast into Iran via satellite TV.
"If there is no international pressure, there will be more crackdowns, arrests, and imprisonments," said Fatameh Haghighatjoo, the youngest female ever elected to the Iranian parliament. "But if there is international concern, these will be reduced."
"This is a critical moment for Iran," Scheuer said. "Iranian activists need to know that American students are ready to help them hold the Iranian regime accountable. We want to help our counterparts in Iran seize the moment and advance their civil rights movement."
For more information, see http://www.IranFreedomConcert.com or call 617.661.0053.