Joint Statement of Iranian-American Organizations on Detentions of Iranians

(New York, NY) – A coalition  of Iranian-American organizations issued the following joint statement regarding the recent detention of Iranians with valid Visas:

“As organizations that represent the Iranian-American community, we are deeply concerned by recent arrests of Iranians visiting and studying in the United States.

At least two Iranians are currently being held in custody by U.S. immigration authorities: Alia Ghandi and Mohammad Salar Fard-Hajian. We implore authorities to ensure these individuals have ready access to legal counsel and insist they be promptly released from custody.

Ghandi, who traveled to Oregon on a valid tourist visa to visit her sister (a U.S. citizen), was refused entry by customs officers and instead arrested and sent to the Tacoma Northwest Detention Center in Washington. Ghandi has subsequently claimed asylum but remains in custody despite an obligation by US authorities to allow her the opportunity to present her case and remain in the US until she is heard.

Mohammad Salar Fard-Hajian, an Iranian student living in Dearborn, Michigan, was arrested at home and is being held in Calhoun County Jail in Battle Creek, Michigan. Fard-Hajian’s roommate believes he was arrested due to administrative errors regarding his college enrollment status.

It is impossible for us to simply write-off all of these events as mere coincidence or misunderstanding in the current climate. The recent spate of official policies and actions – beginning with President Trump’s first executive order to bar entry for Iranians and nationals of six other countries – are deeply troubling. Coupled with recent incidents of hate directed at Iranians and persons of Middle Eastern descent, including recent reports of graffiti targeting Iranians in Portland and San Francisco, a disturbing trend is emerging.

As members of the Iranian-American community, we are active contributors to society who – like all other Americans – are entitled to live in peace and without fear of discrimination. As members of the Iranian diaspora, we are proud of our heritage and have deep connections to our ancestral homeland. We are committed to proactively engaging to protect the interests of our community and the values of this country. We encourage community leaders, lawmakers, as well as the President to take these concerns seriously so that everyone’s rights are protected.”

Iranian Alliances Across Borders (IAAB)
Iranian American Bar Association (IABA)
National Iranian American Council (NIAC)
Pars Equality Center
Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans (PAAIA)

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For anyone stranded as a result of the #MuslimBan: 

Earlier today, IRAP was in touch with Airbnb’s Global Disaster Response & Relief team. They have offered to help provide temporary housing to individuals affected by the President’s executive order.

For those individuals who are currently at an airport in the United States or en route to the United States and are in need of temporary housing assistance (up to two weeks), please proceed by following the instructions below:

Please have the team, volunteer, or client email with the nature of the request (situation, ideally info on individual and family, location needing temporary accommodation and how long, along with the contact info for person/family OR case manager/lawyer handling).

In your email, reference speaking with Kellie Bentz and Disaster Team and your email will be filtered to the top of the list.

Once they receive and make connection with the case manager or family needing assistance, Airbnb will work to make a match between the need and their hosts offering support OR provide a coupon code to identify necessary accommodations in the location of need.

Please share this information with your networks. Let us know if there is anything else we can share. We are with you during this difficult time.

In solidarity,

The IAAB staff | #BannedLives #RejectHate #NoBanNoWall

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Most of our incredible camp counselors were campers themselves. Four-time camper and three-time counselor Arian reflects on his time as camper and what makes Camp Ayandeh and Camp Javan so special. Before heading off to pursue his PhD in physics, Arian is serving as our resident Iranian poetry and literature expert. Listen to the clip above to hear Arian describe his poetry workshop and his thoughts on camp!

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Roxy kicked off Day 5 by giving the Morning Words, a daily practice where campers addresses the community and have an opportunity to share their thoughts. Roxy, a returning camper from Atlanta, shared brief but poignant remarks about the importance of Camp Ayandeh in her life and the support system it builds year-round.

“That’s something I want to emphasize — it’s that what happens at camp, the relationships  you make and the things that you learn, [do not] have to stay here. You can bring them back to your community with you.”


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A day at Camp Javan can be many different things, but it’s always filled with energetic and thought-provoking activities. Listen to counselor Doreen walk us through some of the day’s events, focusing on morning meditations and a biopoem activity.

Morning meditations follow a meditation program developed by HeadSpace that combines techniques from both calming and insight meditation. While most types of meditation were originally part of various spiritual disciplines, Headspace uses them in a non-religious way. Daily morning meditations help campers develop their emotion-regulation skills to deal with stress in their lives.

Earlier in the week, a number of activities introduced campers to the term identity and encouraged them to think about the factors that shape their own identity.  The biopoem lesson included activities to deepen and broaden campers’ ideas about identity.

A biopoem is an 11-line poem that describes a person and includes:

  • At least seven adjectives that you would use to describe yourself;
  • Three important relationships in your life;
  • Five things you love;
  • Five memories you have and descriptions of how you felt at those times;
  • Five of your fears;
  • Three accomplishments; and
  • Five wishes or hopes.

Campers shared their poems in counselor groups and discussed their commonalities and differences, and to what extent these related to their cultural heritage.

Check out the audio above!

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