I always stick my neck out for NIAC. I believe they are a group of smart, sincere Iranian Americans who care about our community. It makes sense when they point out the harmful effects of crippling sanctions on the Iranian people and most importantly the growing danger of war.
Unlike what its opponents believe, NIAC is not working for the ayatollahs. Everything bout them -- from membership to finances -- is transparent. Being anti-war or against the worst kind of sanctions does not mean you agree with the policies of the Islamic Republic.
But what does undermine NIAC's credibility is its reluctance to actively support human rights and democracy in Iran. It's been how many days since activist blogger Sattar Beheshti died under torture inside Evin prison? At least half a dozen human rights organizations have condemned the murder. Even some members of parliament in Iran are asking what happened.
But not a sound from NIAC. No statement, not even a sentence on its human rights page, which I'm no longer reluctant to believe is only an excuse to say they care. They don't and it's painfully obvious. If they did they would put an intern in charge and update it with daily abuses taking place in the Islamic Republic.
NIAC wants to pretend that as an American organization, its focus is on American foreign policy towards Iran. Fair enough. Then why do you flirt with Shirin Ebadi. Why even have a human rights page? Why bother organizing a human rights conference once in a blue moon? To show members you give a damn and silence your critics? Well, it's not working. All it does is deeply disappoint friends and supporters and make your sworn enemies more credible, including crazy neocons. You give them the amunition they desperately need to lable you as an agent of the Islamic Republic.
As NIAC's own surveys have consistently shown, Iranian Americans are concerened about human rights abuses in Iran right after the possibility of breakout of war. That does not mean they want NIAC to focus 99 percent of its time on anti- war and sanctions issues. It means to really, truly care about the plight of Sattar Beheshtis and Nasrin Sotoudehs and hundreds of others.
NIAC is an American organization? Fine. And what makes America great? Civil liberties and democracy. Show Iranians how Americans care about what they are going through under the worst regime Iran has experienced in its history.
Until then I for one am no longer on NIAC's side.
Cartoon by Mana Neyestani