MIT Center for International Studies

October 13, 2005    

Amy Tarr

Outspoken Iranian Human Rights Activist
Joins MIT Center for International Studies as a Visiting Scholar

CAMBRIDGEFatemeh Haghighatjoo, a leading advocate of human rights and democracy in Iran, has joined MIT’s Center for International Studies (CIS) as a visiting scholar. This is the first visit to the United States for Ms. Haghighatjoo, who resigned from Iran’s Parliament in February 2004 following a crackdown on reformers. 

Called fearless and outspoken, Ms. Haghighatjoo was a member of the 6th Majlis, Iran’s reform parliament, and was the first to resign when the anti-reform measures of the Supreme Leader began to take shape.  Ms. Haghighatjoo, a staunch advocate of women’s rights and a psychologist with a PhD in counseling, was president of the student movement faction in the Majlis and a deputy in the Mosharekat Party. According to Ms. Haghighatjoo, “democratization is the central issue for Iran.”


Fatemeh Haghighatjoo (front), during her tenure
in Iran’s Parliament.

Ms. Haghighatjoo was sentenced in 2001 by Iran’s judiciary to 20 months in prison, for “inciting public opinion and insulting the judiciary”; she had criticized the arrest of a female journalist and had claimed that Iran’s government tortured prisoners.  Her sentence—which she terms illegitimate and undemocratic, and which she has not served—was later reduced to 10 months.

While at the Center for International Studies during the coming year, Ms. Haghighatjoo will write about human rights and democratization in Iran and the Middle East. She will also speak (in Farsi) at venues around the U.S. 

Ms. Haghighatjoo speaks some English and is available for interviews.

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MIT’s Center for International Studies is home to a wide variety of research, education, and outreach programs relating to international affairs, including security studies, human rights and justice, international migration, and political economy and technology policy. CIS regularly publishes short essays on U.S. foreign policy, the "Audit of the Conventional Wisdom.”  Among the Center’s programs is its Persian Gulf Initiative, a series of workshops and public forums to explore common issues of concern and interest in the Persian/Arabian Gulf region.

For information about MIT’s Center for International Studies, go to:

For information about the Center’s Persian Gulf Initiative, contact CIS Executive Director John Tirman ( / 617.253.9861) or see:

For pdf versions of CIS Audits of the Conventional Wisdom, see:


Massachusetts Institute of Technology