Banafsheh Zand Journalist, Iran Analyst, and Human Right Activist
Banafsheh Zand was born in Tehran. In 1979, following the Khomeinist uprising, she left Tehran and moved to Paris to begin university at the French Institute of Advanced Cinematic Studies. In 1983 she came to the U.S. and continued studies at the University of Maryland, majoring in film and linguistics; in 1984 she moved to New York.
Her family's political background led her to continue the struggle against the Khomeinist regime. In 2001, while working on a documentary about the Iranian regime's assassination of Iranian opposition leaders, Banafsheh's own father, Siamak Pourzand, one of Iran's most celebrated intellectuals and opposition icons, was abducted by the secret police of the Islamic Republic of Iran, imprisoned, tortured, and finally murdered in 2011. It was at then that she committed herself to full-time political analysis and human rights reporting. She has been a regular contributor to many American and European publications, and frequently appears on international radio and television.
Bahareh Hedayat is a human rights activist who has spent over six years in an Iranian prison for "insulting" Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and then-President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and for "actions against national security, propagation of falsehoods, mutiny and illegal congregation." Hedayat is the longest serving female prisoner of conscience in Iran.