An Introduction to HRAI Advisory Board

The Advisory Board of “Human Rights Activists in Iran” is an indicator of empiricism and group work which makes us able to cooperate with different activists all over the world as Human Rights is a global issue. This makes us sure that we can work more professionally toward our humanitarian and organizational long and short term goals in connection to Iranian society, medias and human rights organizations. Below you can see the list of the advisers of Human Rights Activists in Iran which is called Advisory Board. For more information look at HRA’s History section.

  • Brian Currin
  • Dr. Sima Samar
  • Farhad Sabetan
  • Ali Alyami
  • Şanar Yurdatapan
  • Joanne Michele
  • Christina M. Storm
  • Tahir Elçi
  • Michael Cromartie

Brian Currin

He is a South African lawyer who was instrumental in the establishment of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

He practiced law in Pretoria from 1977 to 1987, specializing in labour law and civil and human rights, and now works in mediation and institutional transformation.

In 1994 he was appointed by South African President Nelson Mandela to chair a Prison Audit Committee and was subsequently involved in the creation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. In 1987 he founded the National Directorate of Lawyers for Human Rights which he headed for eight years.

He has worked in Sri Lanka, Rwanda and the Middle East on political transformation. Currin now co-chairs the Sentence Review Commission in Northern Ireland, which decides on the early release of prisoners who have committed terrorism-related offences. In 2000, he became an independent mediator in the Drumcree parading dispute and said that he hoped he could achieve a breakthrough in the mediation role because he was a completely independent outsider. But he quit his role in December 2001, saying that as Portadown Orangemen had withdrawn from dialogue, he was “unable to take the process any further”.

He has been involved since 2004 in the Basque Conflict. His work has been funded by the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust.

In the last years he is part of the international mediators team involved in the search of a negotiated solution for the conflict in the Basque Country between the Basque separatist organisation ETA (Basque Country and Freedom) and the Spanish and French governments. In November 2010 this group was officially set up as the International Contact Group for the Basque Country. The Group had as mandate “to expedite, facilitate and enable the achievement of political normalization in the Basque Country”.

Dr. Sima Samar

She is a well known women’s and human rights advocate, activist and a social worker within national and international forums, who served as Minister of Women’s Affairs of Afghanistan from December 2001 to 2003. She is currently the Chairperson of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) and, since 2005, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Sudan. In 2011, she was part of the newly founded Truth and Justice party.

Dr. Sima Samar has received numerous international awards for her work on human rights and democracy, including:

1994 Ramon Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership;
1995 Global Leader for Tomorrow from the World Economic Forum in Switzerland;
The 1998 100 Heroines Award in the United States;
The Paul Grunninger Human Rights Award, Paul Grunninger Foundation, Switzerland March 2001;
The Voices of Courage Award, Women’s Commission for Refugee Women and Children, New York, June 2001;
The John Humphrey Freedom Award, Rights & Democracy, Canada 2001;[3]
Ms. magazine, Women of the Year on behalf of Afghan Women, USA December 2001;
Women of the Month, Toronto, Canada, December 2001;
Best Social Worker Award, Mailo Trust Foundation, Quetta, Pakistan March 2001;
International Human Rights Award, International Human Rights Law Group, Washington, DC April 2002;
Freedom Award, Women’s Association for Freedom and Democracy, Barcelona July 2002;
Lawyers Committee for Human Rights, New York October 2002;
The Perdita Huston Human Rights Award 2003;
Profile in Courage Award 2004; and
One of A Different View’s 15 Champions of World Democracy in January 2008
Peace Prize of the City of Ieper (Ypres) Belgium, 2008Asia Democracy and Human Rights Award, December 2008
Honorary Officer of the Order of Canada, 2009
Right Livelihood Award, 2012
Honorary Doctorate from Salem State University in May 2013

Farhad Sabetan

Teaches Economics at California State University, East Bay for the past seven years and has been a research economist in the private and public sectors for more than 15 years.  He is currently a spokesperson for Bahá’í International Community, United Nations, and has been involved in the human rights field in the past thirteen years.


He has given many interviews about the situation of the Bahá’ís in Iran on a variety of news media programs (including BBC, VOA, NPR, New York Times and many others.

Ali Alyami

He is a native of Saudi Arabia. He has lived in the United States for many years and has been an avid advocate for political reforms in Saudi Arabia most of his life. He holds a Ph.D. in Government from the Claremont Graduate University in Southern California, and a Master’s Degree from California State University in Los Angeles. Ph. D. doctoral theses: The Impact of Modernization on the Stability of the Saudi Monarchy.

He has worked for and with different groups and organizations, including the Arab Organization for Human Rights based in Cairo, Egypt, the Saudi Institute in Washington, DC, and the American Friends Service Committee in San Francisco, among others.

Dr. Alyami provided expert testimony regarding human rights in Saudi Arabia before the Congressional Human Rights Caucus. He also organized and participated in many conferences and discussions about Saudi Arabia, its policies and their impact on the Saudi people, the Middle East and the international community. Alyami has spoken at conferences in the United States, London, Egypt, Sudan, and Israel.

Şanar Yurdatapan

He was born in Susurluk, Turkey in 1941. He became well-known as a composer and song-writer during the 1970s. In addition to his contribution to popular and traditional music, Şanar has written music for films and plays. He composed the music for the film “Arkadaş” (Friend) which brought him the Golden Orange Award at the Antalya Film Festival. In 1979, he became the General Secretary of the DEMAR (Democratic Artists Community). Following the military coup of 1980, he left Turkey with his (ex-) wife Melike Demirag – a singer and film actress – and went to Germany where they were obliged to live in exile for over 11 years. The Turkish military regime stripped them of their citizenship in 1983. They were able to return to Turkey in December 1991. In 1992, their citizenship was restored.

Şanar is the informal coordinator of the Freedom of Expression Initiative, which is a group of young people that work together with people prosecuted for exercising their right to freedom of expression. (

Yurdatapan has published 46 Freedom of Expression Booklets and 12 books(Annuals). He has also written one fiction titled Fatoş’un Günlüğü [Fatosh’s diary] (Yurt Publications, 1998) – and 3 essays together with Islamic writer/journalist Abdurrahman Dilipak (Titled: The Green and the Red series.) He has also organized four high profile events called Gathering in Istanbul for Freedom of Expression (1997, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009 and 2010) aimed at drawing attention to the constraints on freedom of expression in Turkey. Among many others, he was one of the three “Monitors” of Human Rights Watch (Global HR Defender, 2002).

Since 2007 he is active in conducting a new initiative called “Small Provincial Assemblies”, establishing dialogue groups of CSO representatives in each province to meet monthly and discuss actual issues together with MPs and mayors selected from the province (

Joanne Michele

She is Iran Specialist in Safe World for Women organization.

“I believe that meaningful change to further human rights must be brought about in the capitals of our nations. I am involved in women’s rights issues in the Middle East – specifically Iran – with Safeworld. My goal is to empower women around the world so not only will they prosper, but so society as a whole might finally become the egalitarian paradise that we all envision.”

Christina M. Storm

Christina Storm is an American lawyer who founded the international Lawyers Without Borders. She practiced law as a trial lawyer in Connecticut from 1978 through 2008 with focus on mediation, criminal law, employment discrimination and matrimonial law. After founding Lawyers Without Borders in 2000, she led it through 2019. Her work in international rule of law has included leading programs in East and West Africa, the Middle East and the Caribbean/Americas. Her work in human rights has been focused on basic freedoms, including Freedom of Information, Freedom of Association and labor rights. Other rule of law initiatives she has led include transnational crimes that include human and wildlife trafficking, gender violence and countering terrorism. Her current work is focused on fragile states, conflict regions and peace and stabilization efforts.

Christina has been nationally recognized for harnessing and leveraging the power of pro bono resources, producing outside-the-box and innovative approaches to justice sector programming around the world and being among the top 500 lawyers in America.

Tahir Elçi

He was the head of Lawyers Center in Diyarbakir in Turkey. As a lawyer, he had represented many significant cases of aggrieved plaintiffs in Turkey and in the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). He was born in 1966 and graduated in 1991 in the human rights field. Tahir Elci studied at the Academy of European Law in Germany. He had held presentations at many conferences and seminars regarding human rights and law in Turkey and abroad.

From 1998 to 2006, he was the director of Lawyers Center in Diyarbakir and he was also a member of the Board of Founders at The Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (HRFT), which is a member of The Union of Turkish Bar Associations in Turkey.

It was shocking that Mr. Elçi, a key figure in Turkey’s human rights movement and one of the HRA’s valuable board members, was killed in southeastern Turkey on 28 November 2015. He was shot in the head with a single bullet on a Diyarbakır street, shortly after he had gathered with colleagues to issue a statement protesting armed clashes in the old city between the security forces and the youth wing of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party. We have kept his name in the advisory board out of respect for his memory.

Michael Cromartie

He was Vice President of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, where he directed both the Evangelicals in Civic Life and Faith Angle Forum programs. His area of expertise included issues at the cross-section of religion and politics.

Mr. Cromartie had contributed book reviews and articles to many prominent publications, including First Things, the Washington Post, Christianity Today, and World magazine. Mr. Cromartie also appeared on numerous radio and television programs, including National Public Radio’s All Things Considered, NBC’s Evening News with Brian Williams, ABC World News Tonight, C-SPAN’s Washington Journal, and the PBS news program The News Hour with Jim Lehrer.

Mr. Cromartie was the editor of fifteen books, including Religion and Politics in America; Religion, Culture, and International Conflict; and A Public Faith: Evangelicals and Civic Engagement. A senior advisor to the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life and a senior fellow with The Trinity Forum, he was also an advisory editor of Christianity Today magazine.

Mr. Cromartie is a graduate of Covenant College (GA), and held an M.A. in Justice from The American University in Washington, D.C. On September 20, 2004, Mr. Cromartie was appointed by President George W. Bush to a six-year term on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, where he was later twice elected chairman.

It is very unfortunate that Mr. Cromartie died of cancer at age 67  in 2017. We have kept his name in the advisory board out of respect for his memory.