Our Community is Our Power
Dear members and Friends of IAB, fellow Iranian-Americans: In the last few weeks and months, many of you have asked us about our stance regarding the ongoing struggle of the people of our motherland. Although with our announcements and programs, we have made it clear that we stand by our compatriots in their brave and painful efforts to gain basic human rights, democracy, and prosperity, we have decided to once again articulate our support and actions to promote those efforts within the limitations of IAB.
Since its inception in 1988, IAB has strived to provide a safe and peaceful environment for the Iranian Americans of our region to engage in cultural activities that strengthen their unity, convey our rich culture to the next generations of Iranian Americans, and present that richness to our fellow Americans. These goals are explicitly articulated in the IAB’s articles of organization.
To that end, IAB has regularly organized or promoted a variety of activities and programs based on different aspects of the Iranian culture, from music, poetry, and dance, to the celebration of age-old traditions such as Nowruz and Yalda. Those activities have also regularly included lectures or presentations addressing various cultural, social, or historical topics.
On the other hand, as also reflected in IAB’s articles of organization, at its inception 34 years ago, IAB’s founders made the deliberate and wise decision of establishing IAB as a non-political and non-religious cultural organization, so that it can provide a safe and peaceful haven for fellow Iranian-Americans of different beliefs to enjoy our culture and even engage in healthy dialogues about deeper aspects of those beliefs. In particular, many of the above-listed types of activities could trigger such dialogues, which IAB would not suppress.
In its activities, however, IAB would not and could not take sides with any specific political or religious point of view, not only because of its legal status as a 501C(3) organization but more importantly because of the above-mentioned founding principles based on which IAB has gained the trust of its members and friends who have joined its Network.
At the same time, IAB has always considered advocating the basic rights of Iranians, whether in the US or in Iran, above and beyond politics and therefore not in conflict with its founding principles. Therefore, whenever this was within its limited capabilities, IAB has joined, and sometimes lead, such activities.
As one example of advocating for the basic rights of Iranian Americans, in the aftermath of the September 11th attacks, IAB participated in the efforts to counter misguided and xenophobic pressures that some in our community faced. These efforts included meeting and coordinating our efforts with the attorney general of Massachusetts or using mechanisms for educating our fellow Iranian Americans about their rights and mean to protect them.
Some other examples relate to defending the basic human rights of our fellow Iranians in the motherland. Examples include the well-received memorial for the victims of the Ukrainian flight 3 years ago, which was held in Khaneh Iran at the initiative of IAB’s council and in collaboration with local student organizations.
Therefore, it was neither a surprise nor an unprecedented stance, when after the recent surge of the struggle of the Iranian people starting in September 2022, IAB showed its support for our compatriots, not only in an announcement by the council or publication of the news of rallies through its city news but also by organizing programs directly or indirectly related to the struggle. Those programs included a poetry night and a Yalda ceremony both in memory of the victims of the uprising, and a recent lecture about Iran’s strive toward modernity before and after 1979.
IAB is determined to continue along the same path of showing solidarity with the struggle, consistent with the wish of the Iranian Americans of New England. In doing so, however, IAB will have to observe the above-described limitations in that it cannot side with, or provide its resources to, any specific political or ideological group. Nevertheless, IAB will continue to support the rights of our people, in particular women and youth. We will show support, not only in our programs or IAB announcements through IAB news but also by providing City news to announcements that are not affiliated with IAB and submitted by other groups for publication.
Moreover, IAB is planning to organize an open-to-public discussion session devoted to explaining the above matters to you, the Iranian American community of New England, and hearing your feedback or suggestions regarding those policies and activities.