The National Iranian Congress’

Freedom and Democracy Award

In the arduous journey towards the liberation of Iran and the pursuit of democracy, the National Iranian Congress (NIC) stands resolute, guided by the beacon of freedom and the aspiration for sustainable peace in the Middle East. As we navigate through the challenges, we recognize and cherish the invaluable support extended to us by individuals who share our vision of a liberated Iran and a world where democracy thrives.

Central to our mission is the acknowledgment of the unwavering loyalty and steadfast support of those who stand beside us in our quest for freedom and democracy for the people of Iran. Their commitment fuels our determination and strengthens our resolve, reminding us that the pursuit of justice knows no bounds.

In recognition of this spirit of solidarity and cooperation, the National Iranian Congress established the Appreciation Award in 2017. This prestigious accolade serves as a symbol of our profound gratitude to those who have demonstrated exceptional dedication to the cause of freedom and democracy in Iran.

The NIC bestows this honor upon individuals whose unwavering support and advocacy have significantly contributed to our collective efforts. Through their actions, they exemplify the ideals of friendship, collaboration, and mutual understanding that transcend borders and unite humanity in the pursuit of a better world.

Moreover, as we embrace the dawn of a new era, it is imperative to emphasize the pivotal role of the new generation of Iranians. Empowered by the principles of inclusivity and harmony, they embody the spirit of friendship and cooperation with the global community. Their vision extends beyond national boundaries, embracing diversity and fostering dialogue to build a world where peace and prosperity flourish.

In honoring the commitment of our supporters and celebrating the aspirations of the new generation, the National Iranian Congress reaffirms its dedication to the noble cause of freedom, democracy, and peace. Together, let us continue to march forward, guided by the principles of justice, equality, and solidarity, towards a future where the dreams of liberty and human dignity are realized for all.


Past Recipients of the “Freedom and Democracy” Award


John McCain

United States Senator

John Sidney McCain III (August 29, 1936 – August 25, 2018) was an American politician and United States Navy officer who served as a United States senator from Arizona from 1987 until his death in 2018. He previously served two terms in the United States House of Representatives and was the Republican nominee for president of the United States in the 2008 election, which he lost to Barack Obama.

McCain was a son of Admiral John S. McCain Jr. and grandson of Admiral John S. McCain Sr. He graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1958 and received a commission in the United States Navy. McCain became a naval aviator and flew ground-attack aircraft from aircraft carriers. During the Vietnam War, he almost died in the 1967 USS Forrestal fire. While on a bombing mission during Operation Rolling Thunder over Hanoi in October 1967, McCain was shot down, seriously injured, and captured by the North Vietnamese. He was a prisoner of war until 1973. McCain experienced episodes of torture and refused an out-of-sequence early release. During the war, he sustained wounds that left him with lifelong physical disabilities. McCain retired from the Navy as a captain in 1981 and moved to Arizona.

Trent Franks

United States Representative

Harold Trent Franks (born June 19, 1957) is an American businessman and former politician who served as the U.S. representative for Arizona’s 8th congressional district from 2003 to 2017 (numbered as the 2nd district from 2003 to 2013). He is a member of the Republican Party. During his tenure, Franks served as vice chairman of the United States House Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces and chairman of the United States House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties.

Yadollah Shahbazi


Yadollah Shahbazi is a distinguished statesman and successful businessman. Mr. Shahbazi served as Deputy Prime Minister of Iran under Prime Minister Amir Abbas Hoveyda from 1967 to 1973. In 1974, he established the Star Lines, an independent shipping company in Iran. Under his leadership, Star Lines grew quickly to become one of the largest shipping corporations in Iran, second only to Ayra, a state-owned company. After the 1979 revolution in Iran, he moved to the United Kingdom where he served as a legal consultant to and then director of the British corporation Yarco Development.

Currently, Mr. Shahbazi leads his own law practice in London which he founded in 1981. He is a graduate of the Faculty of Law, Tehran University and an alumnus of the Harvard Business School.


Alireza Rezazadeh

First Vice-President

Ukraine International Diplomatic Mission


Fariborz Abbasi



 Daniel Reed Crenshaw

United States Representative

Daniel Reed Crenshaw is an American politician and former United States Navy SEAL officer serving as the United States representative for Texas’s 2nd congressional district since 2019. He is a member of the Republican Party.

Crenshaw was commissioned in the United States Navy, and served on SEAL Team 3 in the War in Afghanistan, reaching the rank of lieutenant commander. He was wounded in action during his third deployment, losing his right eye to an improvised explosive device. He served as a legislative assistant to Representative Pete Sessions and was elected to Congress in the 2018 midterm election to succeed the retiring Ted Poe.

Dr. Nahid Kalhori

Secretory General, National Iranian Congress

Dr. Nahid Kalhori was born in Qom in a traditional religious family. In 2006, when she was still a high school student, she started her blog entitled “Freedom is not Free” about her opinion about what’s going on in Iran. She was one of the first, and youngest student activists, and bloggers. In 2008, After blogging for two years, She got arrested by the regime’s Intelligence Ministry in Qom. When She was in solitary confinement, Amir Fakhravar the leader of the Iranian independent student movement, and his friends in Europe started a campaign in her support. Amnesty International released an exclusive statement in her support and urged the Mullahs’ regime to release her. She was immediately released from solitary confinement but her case was under review by the Ministry of Intelligence. In November 2008, she got arrested for the second time. This time they stormed into her house and handcuffed her in front of her family. She was 19 years old then, a girl from a traditional family in the most religious city of Iran. You can imagine what was her situation then.


Dr. Kenneth Katzman

Research Specialist in Middle East Affairs
Congressional Research Service

As a specialist with the Congressional Research Service, Dr. Katzman serves as a senior Middle East analyst for the U.S. Congress, with special emphasis on Iran, the Persian Gulf states, Afghanistan, and Iran-backed groups operating in the Middle East and South Asia. He provides reports and briefings to Members of Congress and their staffs on U.S. policy on these countries and issues, and provides analysis of related legislative proposals. He has participated in several congressional delegations to the region at the Member and staff level, and given many official presentations and briefings at conferences and meetings throughout Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and South and Central Asia. He has also written numerous articles in various outside publications, including a book entitled “The Warriors of Islam: Iran’s Revolutionary Guard” (Westview Press, 1993) which was the subject of his Ph.D. dissertation. During 1996 and again during July 2001- March 2002, he was assigned to the majority staff of the House Foreign Affairs Committee to work on Middle East issues, including hearings and legislation such as the Iran Sanctions Act (1996). On about a dozen occasions, he has testified before various Committees and Subcommittees on Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan.

Dr. Katzman has appeared on numerous expert panels sponsored by various think tanks and universities. Among outside publications, during 1998, he wrote expert working papers on the ballistic missile capabilities of Iran and Iraq for the Commission to Assess the Ballistic Missile Threat to the United States (“Rumsfeld Commission”). In late 1999, and again in 2010, the Atlantic Council published his monographs on U.S. sanctions on Iran. Dr. Katzman has been quoted frequently on the region in various media.

Dr. Katzman holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from New York University (1991). During May 1985-June 1989, Dr. Katzman was an analyst at the Central intelligence Agency, where he prepared written reports for U.S. Middle East policymakers on leadership dynamics in Iran, Iraq, and the Persian Gulf states. Two years in the private defense consulting industry followed his tour at the CIA.


Dr. Manouchehr Ganji

Iran Former Secretory of Education and Science

Dr. Manouchehr Ganji was born in Tehran, Iran, pursued an extensive academic career, earning degrees in political science, international relations, and international law. He held various positions in academia and government, including serving as Iran’s Minister of Education. Throughout his life, Ganji has been a prominent advocate for human rights, working with international organizations and publishing extensively on the topic. He played a crucial role in inviting the International Committee of the Red Cross to Iran during the Shah’s era and has continued to expose human rights violations in Iran since the revolution. Despite facing numerous threats to his life, he has remained dedicated to promoting freedom and democracy in Iran through organizations like the Flag of Freedom Organization and the Organization for Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms for Iran. Ganji’s work spans multiple languages and includes significant contributions to understanding international law and human rights issues.


These remarkable individuals have inspired change, challenged oppression, and championed the values of liberty, equality, and justice. Through their unwavering commitment and tireless efforts, they have made significant strides in advancing the cause of democracy and freedom, leaving an indelible mark on their communities and the world at large.

As we continue to recognize and celebrate the contributions of these outstanding individuals, we are reminded of the importance of upholding and defending the principles of democracy and freedom in our pursuit of a more just, equitable, and inclusive society.