Iranian political prisoners

Pictures of Iranian political prisoners are arrayed on a table at the Anaheim Convention Center preceding a forum on U.S. policy toward Iran. (August 17, 2013)

Hundreds of Iranian Americans are expected to attend a convention in Anaheim on Saturday that will explore the current state of Iranian politics after the election of new president Hassan Rouhani.

Rouhani, 64, a cleric considered a moderate pragmatist, was elected in June in a landslide victory. He replaced outgoing two-term President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who was barred from seeking a third term.

Convention delegates are expected to discuss Iran’s nuclear capabilities, human rights issues, religious persecution and the role of opposition groups.

Scheduled speakers include Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Huntington Beach), Rep. Judy Chu (D-Monterey Park), former Rhode Island Democratic Congressman Patrick Kennedy and former U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey,  who was appointed by George W. Bush.

The convention is sponsored by the nonprofit California Society for Democracy in Iran.

“This is the first time Iranian-Americans are going to come out and speak about the new Rouhani administration and discuss U.S. policy towards Iran,” said spokesman Amir M. Emadi. “We are going to ask policymakers to have a stronger stance against Iran, to increase sanctions and to support the people of Iran who have shown the capacity to stand up to the regime but haven’t seen the support from the West.”

Emadi said the convention coincides with the 25th anniversary of the deaths of thousands of political prisoners throughout Iran in 1988. Opposition groups assert that members of Rouhani's cabinet were directly involved in the deaths.

The convention is scheduled from 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at the Anaheim Convention Center.

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carla.rivera@latimes.com

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