Professor Ali Ansari

Professor Ali M. Ansari is one of the world’s leading experts on Iran and its history. Having obtained his BA and PhD from the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), he is currently Professor in Modern History with reference to the Middle East at St. Andrews University in Scotland, where he is also the founding director of the Institute for Iranian Studies. In addition to his dual role at St. Andrews, he is also an Associate Fellow at Chatham House and sits on the Governing Council of the British Institute of Persian Studies (BIPS). He is a regular speaker at conferences and events regarding Iran, including „Iran’s New Parliament“ at the New America Foundation. He has also written for The Guardian, The Independent, and the New Statesman, among others. He has published extensively including “Iran Under Ahmadinejad” and “Iran, Islam & Democracy – The Politics of Managing Change”.

Dr. Abdol-Karim Lahidji

Karim Lahidji has been a human rights activist since 1958, while he was attending Tehran University Law School. Shortly after obtaining the license to practice law, Mr. Lahidji joined a group of colleagues to establish the Progressive Lawyers Group. It was partly due to his efforts that in 1975 the Iranian government felt compelled to sign the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and permit the International Red Cross to visit Iran’s prisons. At the risk of endangering his own safety, Mr. Lahidji lost no time to condemn the executions that followed the 1979 show trials of the Islamic revolutionary courts. He even volunteered to defend two prominent individuals who had been accused of being involved in counterrevolutionary conspiracy. In March 1982, Mr. Lahidji fled (was smuggles out of) Iran via Kurdistan and went to Paris, France to begin his life of exile. Once settled in Paris, he invited a group of Iranian exiles in France to establish a new organization, the League for the Defense of Human Rights in Iran (LDDHI), in order to expose the Islamic Republic’s human rights record and publicize the danger facing Iran’s political dissidents at home. In 1984, LDDHI joined the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and took some initiatives to expand its activities throughout Europe and North America. In 1990, Mr. Lahidji was a recipient of Human Rights Watch award for outstanding monitors of human rights in the world. He is also vice-president of the International Federation of Human Rights since 1998, elected in five consecutive congress of this NGO.

Markus Löning

Markus Löning is the Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights and Humanitarian Aid. He observes political developments in this area and advises the German Foreign Minister.
As part of his task , Markus Löning is in close contact to many other institutions that are active in the field of human rights or humanitarian aid, such as other ministries, the German parliament, political and private foundations and NGOs.
The involvement of civil society is an important element of the human rights policy of the German Government. Therefore, the commissioners task is to form an interface between civil society and the German Government.
The commissioner maintains regular contact with the bodies of the EU, Council of Europe and the UN, that deal with the protection of human rights or issues of humanitarian aid. At the meetings of the Human Rights Council of the United Nations in Geneva, he heads the German delegation.

Professor Payam Akhavan

Professor Akhavan teaches and researches in the areas of public international law, international criminal law and transitional justice, with a particular interest in human rights and multiculturalism. He was previously the Boulton Senior Fellow at McGill, Distinguished Visiting Professor at the University of Toronto Faculty of Law, and Visiting Lecturer and Senior Fellow at Yale Law School and the Yale University Centre for International and Area Studies.Professor Akhavan was the first Legal Advisor to the Prosecutor’s Office of the International Criminal Tribunals for Former Yugoslavia and Rwanda and played a key role in the development of its foundational jurisprudence. He also has advised the UN on transitional justice, appearing as counsel before international courts and tribunals on behalf of sovereigns, and serving on the board of directors of human rights NGOs, including the Iran Human Rights Documentation Centre, of which he is also the president and co-founder. In recognition of his contributions to promoting accountability for human rights violations, he was selected by the World Economic Forum as a Young Global Leader in 2005.

Hasan Yousefi Eshkevari

Hojjatoleslam Hasan Yousefi Eshkevari is an Iranian cleric, researcher, journalist and reformist. On 5 August 2000, Eshkevari was arrested after returning from the ‚Iran After the Elections‘ Conference held in Berlin April 7–9, 2000. He was one of several prominent Iranian intellectuals who attended the Berlin conference and upon their return were arrested and charged. He served four years in prison . Prior to his arrest, Eshkevari was the Director of the Ali Shariati Research Centre and contributing editor of the newspaper Iran-e Farda, which was banned in April 2000. Eshkevari has been a prolific contributor to the Great Encyclopedia of Islam, and an editor of the Encyclopedia of the Shia, both edited in Tehran. Eshkevari has spoken out against the 2009 presidential elections, which, he is convinced, were rigged. Recently, he has advocated a secular governmental system in Iran, for which, he suggests, the original draft of the 1979 constitution could serve as a blueprint.

Tom Koenigs

Tom Koenigs is a member of the German Parliament for the german Green Party and Chairman of the Committee for Human Rights and Humanitarian Aid. From 1999 to 2002 he was Deputy Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General in Kosovo. As a UN- Special Representative of a peacekeeping mission he was sent to Guatemala in 2002. 2005 he became Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid at the Foreign Ministry of the German Federal Government. From February 2006 to 2007 he served as Special Representative of the UN for the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).

Mehrangiz Kar

Mehrangiz Kar is a prominent Iranian lawyer, human rights activist and author. Mehrangiz Kar is one of the most celebrated activists in the history of women movement in Iran which dates back to almost one century ago. She has been an active public defender in Iran’s civil and criminal courts, and has published regularly in several influential and independent Iranian journals. Banned from making public appearances within her country, including conferences, radio and television, Ms. Kar has used international forums as a platform for voicing her opinions and advocating for the democratic, political, legal, constitutional and human rights of the Iranian people. In April of 2000, following her participation in a symposium in Berlin, she was arrested and imprisoned on charges of acting against the national security of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Under pressure from the European Union and the government of Holland in particular, she was released temporarily for treatment in the US. Mehangiz Kar was a Radcliffe Fellow at Harvard University and in the 2005/06 academic year was based at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. She has also been recognized as a Scholar at Risk through an international network of universities and colleges working to promote academic freedom and to defend the human rights of scholars worldwide.She has received numerous awards and honours. In 2002, the U.S. First Lady, Laura Bush, gave her the National Endowment for Democracy’s Democracy award.

Omid Nouripour

Nouripour is a member of the German Parliament since 2006. Omid Nouripour was born in 1975 in Tehran. At the age of thirteen he emigrated with his parents and his sister to Germany.  Since the federal elections in 2009, he is the security-policy spokesman for the German Green party, member and chairman of the Defense Committee, deputy coordinator of the Working Group on International and Human Rights of the Greens, alternate member of the Foreign Affairs Committee and the Budget Committee of the Bundestag.

Mana Neyestani

Neyestani is a renowned Iranian  cartoonist and illustrator. He was born in 1973 in Tehran and  is a graduate of University of Tehran with a M.A. in Architecture. He began drawing cartoons for the press in 1989. He has worked as a cartoonist and illustrator for economic, intellectual, political and cultural magazines and newspapers. He has also contributed to a large number of reformist newspapers. Neyestani was arrested and put in Jail in 2006, after one of his cartoons had provoked heavy riots among the country’s minority Azeri community. Neyestani had to leave Iran and now lives in exile.

Dr. Jamsheed Faroughi

Born in Tehran, Iran. Dr. Faroughi has studied economics, philosophy and history of Islamic Studies in Tehran. Since 1996 editor at DW-RADIO/Persian Service. Since 2004 Dr. Faroughi is head of the Iran Department at  Deutsche Welle.



Nooshabeh Amiri

Nooshabeh Amiri is one of the most prominent and distinctive iranian journalists. She was born in Tehran and has a BA in journalism and an M.S. degree in sociology. Amiris career as a journalist dates back to the 1960’s. She has worked for Keyhan Newspaper as reporter, political correspondent, chief of political desk. She has contributed to Iranian Radio and Newspapers like Jameh, Toos, Neshat and Bonyan. She has worked as director and writer for 18 documentary films for I.N.T.V. She is the founder and a member of the editorial desk at Rooz (

Can you solve this?

The successful web-based human rights campaign „Can You Solve This?“ started in Berlin in August 2011 and has since spread to numerous countries, making it a global grassroots initiative.
The campaign in a gameful approach uses QR codes and a interactive website to bring awareness about the „denial of education“; a systematic tool of persecution the Iranian government uses to deny young people the right to gain a higher education. Participants are asked to speak up about these human rights abuses and bring it to the attention of their government representatives. Since the launch this past August, over 10 countries have launched the campaign, over 10.000 mails have been sent to government representatives, close to 100 media outlets reported about the campaign and the campaign still keeps growing and increasing its momentum.

Olaf Böhnke

Olaf Boehnke joined the European Council on Foreign Relations in September 2011 as Head of the Berlin Office. Previously he was a Senior Foreign and European Policy Advisor in the German Bundestag (2009-2011).Prior to that, he worked as Senior Program Officer at the Aspen Institute Germany (2007-2009). As head of the Middle East Department, he executed three conference programs on civil society issues in Iran, Syria and Lebanon. From 1999-2006 he was chief of staff and senior advisor to several members of the German Bundestag. Mr. Boehnke is also a visiting lecturer at the Otto-Suhr-Institut for Political Sciences at Free University Berlin. He received his M.A. from Free University, Berlin, where he studied International Relations, Political Science and Economics. Olaf Boehnke is a Marshall Memorial Fellow (2007) of the German Marshall Fund of the United States and an Aspen Fellow (2005/06) of the Aspen Institute Berlin.

Dr. Gholam Khiabany

Gholam Khiabany is a reader in International Communications in the Faculty of Applied Social Sciences, London Metropolitan University. His research interests centres on media and social change and the relationship between communication, development and democracy with particular reference to Iran. He is the author of Iranian Media: The Paradox of Modernity , and co-author of Blogistan: The Internet and Politics in Iran.

Golineh Atai

Golineh Atai, born in 1974 in Tehran, studied Islamic studies and Political science in Heidelberg and Lille. She sat in on lectures at Radio France, ZDF, Phönix, the UNESCO and at the „Institut für Kulturaustausch“ (Institute for Cultural Exchange). Since 2001 she is a TV journalist and presenter. She was ARD correspondent for the Arab world and editor at the ARD “Morning Magazine”. Currently she is domestic correspondent at WDR Cologne. In 2007, Golineh Atai was nominated for the Grimme Award in the category “Information and Culture”. Her TV contributions were shot in Lebanon, Syria, Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Bahrain, Libya, Jordan and India.

Ehsan Norouzi

Ehsan Norouzi studied computer engineering and started to work as a journalist in 2006, when he passed BBC World Service Trust’s one year online learning program in journalism (iLearn). He has had different working experiences mostly as an online journalist, translator and researcher on Internet Freedom, Internet Governance and Media Policies and development. He has worked for 6 months for Reporters without Borders to establish a website for monitoring the situation of press freedom, journalism and journalists‘ situation in Iran. Currently as a freelance journalist he is involved  in a project that is focused on social media.
Norouzi has also been managing the AzadCyber website, which is covering internet censorship and press restrictions and systematic violations of freedom of expression in Iran.

Professor Annabelle Sreberny

Annabelle Sreberny is Professor of Global Media and Communications and Director of the Centre for Media and Film Studies and Chair, Centre for Iranian Studies at SOAS, University of London. She is also President of the International Association for Media and Communication Research (IAMCR). She has been researching issues on Iranian media and gender for over 30 years. Her recent work on Iran has examined the role of the press as part of an emergent civil society in Iran, the particular role that women play as journalists and editors within the Iranian press environment and the emergence of a dynamic Persian-language blogosphere. Her empirical research has been supported by organizations such as UNESCO, the BBC, the Broadcasting Standards Commission and the ESRC. She has consulted for UNESCO, the British Council, Article 19, the EU and the Council of Europe. Her book Small Media, Big Revolution: Communication, Culture and the Iranian Revolution, co-authored with Ali Mohammadi, focuses on events over thirty years ago. Her recent volume, Blogistan: The Internet and Politics in Iran, co-authored with Gholam Khiabany, provides background to the June 2009 emergence of the Green Movement in Iran.

Ruprecht Polenz

Ruprecht Polenz is a Member of Parliament since 1994. He is chairman of the Foreign Committee of the German parliament. The main focus of his work are the foreign and security policy, regionally the Middle East, especially Iran, Turkey and the Middle East conflict. With great interest he observes the political impact of Islam beyond the region.
In 2000, Ruprecht Polenz was Secretary General of the CDU. Today he is a member of the State Executive of the CDU in North-Rhine Westphalia, and of the executive committee of the party’s parliamentary group. He is also a member of the CDU Federal Committee on Foreign Affairs, European and Security Policy.

Dieter Bednarz

Dieter Bednarz is a longtime political editor at the SPIEGEL. He regularly travels to Iran and reports on political and social developments. Twice he was able to interview President Ahmadinejad for the SPIEGEL.



Christiane Hoffmann

Christiane Hoffmann studied Slavistics, East European History and Journalism in Freiburg, Leningrad and Hamburg. In 1994 she became political editor at the news desk of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. As a correspondent from Moscow, she reported on the countries of the former Soviet Union from spring 1996 to autumn 1999. After that, she became correspondent in Tehran and reported for five years on Iran and the Middle East region. During that time, she was the only German journalist living in Tehran. Christiane Hoffmann speaks some Persian. Therefore she managed to connect to various civil society – and political actors in Iran. After a time at the political desk of the Sunday Edition of the F.A.Z., she became correspondent at the Berlin bureau in 2010.

Mehdi Mohseni

Mehdi Mohseni is an Iranian blogger and journalist. In 2002 he started his activities as a blogger in Iran. After the presidential election in 2009 Mohseni left Iran and has since lived in Germany. Currently he works as a freelance journalist.
Mohseni has worked for numerous print and online media: as an editor and later for 18 months as chief editor of „Nedaye Jonub“, as editor of the leading reform newspaper „Etemad,“ for the online editorial staff of „Jara“ and „Kalame“ and the Dutch radio station „Zamaneh“.
Before his departure in 2009 he was chief editor of „Ruydadnews“. Previously, he headed the website „Khuznews“ in Iran.

Mahmood Enayat

Mahmood Enayat is the founder and executive director of Small Media, a non for profit based in London. Previously he was the Iran project director at the BBC World Service Trust. Mahmood Enayat is finishing his PhD at Oxford Internet Institute, Oxford University, focusing on state censorship and control of the Internet in Iran.


Pooneh Ghoddoosi

Pooneh Ghoddoosi has a BA in English Language and Translation from Iran, and she completed her post-graduate studies in Journalism and Photography at the University of Toronto in Canada. She began her journalism career in 1990, at the time of the deadly earthquake in Roudbar, North of Iran. Since then she contributed to several American, British, and Canadian media including the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, PBS, USA Today, Daily Telegraph, Business Week, Toronto Star, and the Washington Post. She joined BBC Persian service in 2000 as a radio producer and presenter. She has worked as a producer for the flagship BBC Television News programme „Newsnight“. She has presented „World Briefing“ on the BBC World Service radio and worked as English newsreader/announcer for five years. She joined BBC Persian Television as presenter of the interactive programme „Nobat-e Shoma“ (Your Turn) in 2008. She managed a project examining and promoting effective utilisation of social media across the BBC World Service and helped design and develop the BBC Wolrd Service Editorial Guidlines for using social media in 2010. She also presents news bulletins and current affairs programmes, such as „The Hub“ on BBC World News.

Dr. Fereydoun Khavand

Fereydoun Khavand is an economist, political analyst and a doctor of jurisprudence. He was born in 1948 in Shiraz and studied at the University of Tehran.
He finished his Master and PhD at the Rene Descartes University in Paris. He teaches at the Faculty of Law, Rene Descartes, and is a professor at the Centre d’études Diplomatic and Strategic (CEDS – Paris). Fereydoun Khavand specialized in international economic relations and had taught at the École des hautes études commerciales (HEC) and Ecole Superieure de Gestion (ESG). As an economist and Iran expert he contributes to a number of Persian-language and foreign media (Radio France, Radio Farda, Voice of America, BBC). His publications include Le nouvel ordre international commercial: du GATT à l’OMC , and Dictionnaire des relations internationales.

Dr. Sohrab Razzaghi

Dr. Razzaghi is a prominent human rights defender and an expert on iranian civil society. He has a PhD in political science from the University of Tehran and was a professor at Allameh Tabatabaei University. Dr. Razzaghi was Executive Director and co-founder of the non-profit Iran Civil Society Organization Training and Research Center (ICTRC), known as Koneshgaran Davtalab within Iran. The non-profit organization, founded in 2002, worked on capacity-building of Iranian civil society organizations, democracy, human rights and strengthening free access to information. ICTRC was illegally shut down by the Iranian authorities in March 2007. Dr Razzaghi was arrested on 24 October 2007 and was held in Section 209 of Evin Prison in Tehran. After the June elections 2009 , threats against his personal safety forced him to leave the country for a fellowship in the Netherlands. He has been working as a civil society researcher at the University of Amsterdam.

Isabel Schayani

Isabel Schayani studied Islamic studies, history and international law.
She was an editor at the ARD “Morning Magazine”, hosted several radio programs (Radio Europe, WDR 5) and contributed to the “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung” and” Süddeutsche Zeitung”.
Since August 2005 she is an editor for “MONITOR” and a commentator of the main German TV newscast “Tagesthemen”.

Farhad Payar

Born and raised in Iran, Farhad Payar emigrated to Germany in 1980. He studied political science at the Free University of Berlin. Since 1988, he has written several Plays in German and Persian. As a freelance journalist, he has contributed to several TV- and Radio broadcaster and for Newspapers (WDR, DeutschlandRadio, NDR, Deutsche Welle). Since August 2011, he is head of the editorial staff of Transparency for Iran.