International Women’s Month kicks off with the Witness Initiative

BOSTON, March 2, 2012 –

Last night, AIC and AJC presented the latest in our joint “Witness Initiative,” a discussion with special guests Iranian student leader “T,” who spoke on condition of anonymity, and U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts Carmen Ortiz.

Kicking off “International Women’s Month,” we brought this unexpected pair of remarkable women together to hear their personal stories of being on opposites sides of the law. “T” was one of the only female student leaders at her university in Iran; after the 2009 presidential elections, she was arrested and held in Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison for 40 days, suffering hours of interrogation. Ms. Ortiz grew up impoverished in the housing projects of the Bronx. An outstanding student, she also helped raise her four younger siblings before completing law school and scaling the ranks of the U.S. Department of Justice as a federal prosecutor.

“Witness” marked the first time that “T” had ever told her story publicly – but she held the audience rapt as she recalled being arrested on the morning of her 23rd birthday; the delicate dance of interrogation – telling neither lies nor truth as she fought to protect friends and save herself; and, blindfolded while imprisoned, making friends whose faces she never saw, but whose voices she wouldn’t forget. Ms. Ortiz, the portrait of professionalism and always on-message, this time shared a personal side rarely seen in public – the untimely death of her first husband, struggling to resume life as a public official and the single mother of two young daughters, and venturing beyond the DOJ to help rebuild Guatemala’s legal system after years of civil war.

The prosecuted and the prosecutor, together on one stage – though their stories are very different, their passion and achievements are equally inspiring. Join us throughout the month of March as we continue to spotlight courageous women on the frontlines.

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