Azadi Money: Circulating Freedom one banknote at a time

Jan 22, 20100 comments

Last Friday (Jan 15) it was reported that Iran’s police chief, Ismail Ahmadi Moghaddam, warned the opposition NOT to use their cell phones or e-mail to promote or organize demonstrations. He continued by saying that these “offenses” deserve “severe punishment,” and that the authorities would “continue monitoring those systems.” AP Report:

“These people must know when they send the SMS messages or e-mails out, these systems are completely under (our) control,” Moghaddam was quoted as saying by the semiofficial ISNA news agency. “These individuals should not assume … they can hide their identities. That is a wishful thinking.”

Moghaddam added that those who continue to use cell phones and e-mails in service of the opposition would be punished. “Those involved in organizing or issuing appeals have committed a worse crime than those who take to the streets,” he said. 1388 Meets 1984 As the government’s ropes continue to tighten communication in Iran, activists and human rights defenders have gotten creative in their means of dispersing slogans and demo information: scrawling on telephone booths, tagging classrooms, writing on trees, to continue, in whatever ways they can, their dissent against those driving them to take green pen to stucco wall.

Don’t believe what a government says, if it’s the only entity with the right to freedom of expression.”

Pictures of banknotes from Iran, scribbled on with pro-opposition slogans and statements, have emerged more and more frequently. Slogans on banknotes range from “What did they die for?” to “Fear the storm of dust and dirt” (a reference Ahmadinejad made to describe the opposition demonstrators) to simple green Vs stamped on the front. The central bank, currently trying to pull all the marked bills from circulation, has threatened to no longer accept tagged bills as legal tender in an effort to coerce merchants not to accept graffiti-laden money. AP Report:

There’s no way to calculate how much Iranian currency has been scribbled on or stamped with dissident messages in recent months in response to efforts to halt public demonstrations or choke off the Internet and cell phone messaging.

In the wake of these increased restrictions, we invite you to join our new global project “Azadi Money.” The premise is simple. Take a bill from your wallet and use a green pen to write whatever pro-freedom, pro-human & civil rights slogans you want on it. You could write “Azadi” (“Freedom” in Farsi) or the equivalent of “Freedom” in your own language; draw some “V” signs. Feel free to even make up whatever symbol, phrase, drawing etc. that you think would best circulate and spread the message of freedom for the Iranian people to the next hands the money is passed to. (Obviously, we don’t want to get anyone into trouble, so please take a minute to review the country- and region-specific regulations regarding marking currency. Regulations should be taken under consideration before writing on any bills.) Once you’ve spent that bill, you’ve begun a long circulation of activism mirroring the same tactic of the Iranian people. With the stroke of a (preferably green!) pen, you help maintain the world’s attention and remind the international community: The civil and human rights movement in Iran is not only alive, but also growing despite the government’s systematic attempts to stifle their voices. Consider taking a picture of your bill, and any other ones you come across that are marked. Make sure to share your photos with us by e-mailing them to

In addition to include select images on the main site, United4Iran has created an “Azadi Money” devoted blog to post everything we receive. Please check it out for more information and some fun images.

Azadi Money in 4 Steps

  1. Check your local regulations regarding writing on currency. 
  2. Write or draw your own message, slogan, picture, or symbol in favor or freedom & democracy in Iran (using a green pen!) 
  3. Take a picture of the bill and send it to (Let us know what general territory you’re sending it from only if you’re comfortable.) 
  4. Spend it on whatever you would spend your money on and know you’ve helped “circulate freedom.”

We will post the “Azadi Money” from various parts of the world on our “Azadi Money” devoted blog and on the main website. It takes a while for money to circulate, but be patient and keep watch!