Jun 17, 20190 comments

  • We, the undersigned Iranian and international human rights organizations and advocates, express grave concerns over the rising tension between the United States and the Islamic Republic of Iran, which risks a military confrontation that would cause massive human rights harms. We urge all parties and international actors to take immediate and clear steps to prevent a conflict.

    The impact of any military action in Iran, as we have seen in neighboring countries, would be devastating. It would likely lead to accelerated human rights and humanitarian crisis and could only serve to destabilize an already troubled region. Only peace-focused policies that prioritize the rights and well-being of ordinary people in Iran and the region can provide meaningful, long-term benefits.

    We have a deep understanding of the problems in Iran, including human rights challenges and corruption within some government sectors. We have dedicated our lives to strengthening the rights of women and girls, ethnic minorities, religious minorities, workers, journalists, university students, LGBTQ people, artists, and political prisoners in Iran. We have fought for the freedom of speech, freedom of religion, the right to a fair trial, socio-economic rights of the Iranian people, and an end to discrimination. We have consistently opposed Iranian authorities in their abuse of power and oppressive policies. It is from this perspective that we warn against the threat posed by military conflict.

    We also fear that military action against Iran will be disastrous for millions of ordinary people and could lead to the type of violent sectarian civil conflict seen in neighboring countries. The instability of these conflicts and the extent to which they pit groups of people against each other has led to immeasurable human rights abuses.

    Many Iran-based human rights defenders have expressed dismay that broad economic sanctions imposed by the US and the specter of war have already made their work more difficult. Many of them are struggling to make ends meet in a depressed economy, while their activities have become increasingly risky in a heightened security environment. The threat of war has strengthened support for the Iranian state’s security approaches and has been used as a pretext to crack down on activists. Minority communities, who have little space for civic activism, suffer the brunt of crackdowns at such times. Many Iranian human rights defenders fear that an actual military conflict would give the Iranian security forces an opportunity to finally put a complete stop to their advocacy efforts.

    These concerns reflect some of the likely outcomes of any military confrontation in Iran, underscoring the need for peaceful and legal solutions to any tensions between states.

    We urge all parties to show maximum restraint. We ask that the United Nations Secretary-General, the European Union, and the government of Japan, as well as countries in the region that have stepped in the past to foster peace, to intervene to prevent the outbreak of war and deepening human rights and humanitarian crisis.


    1. Amin Ahmadian, Member of the Central Committee of Advar-e Takim-e Vahdat
    2. Niki Akhavan, Associate Professor at the Catholic University of America
    3. Leila Alikarami, Human Rights Lawyer and Women’s Rights Defender
    4. Mahsa Alimardani, Technology and Human Rights Researcher at ARTICLE 19
    5. Mehdi Aminzadeh, Political Activist
    6. Leila Asadi, Women’s Rights Defender and PhD Candidate in Justice Studies
    7. Zeinab Asgharpour, Political Activist and member of the Central Committee of Advar-e Takim-e Vahdat
    8. Kamran Ashtary, Executive Director at Arseh Sevom
    9. Kaveh Azarhoosh, Senior Researcher at Small Media
    10. Arash Azizi, Writer, Scholar, and PhD Candidate at New York University
    11. Emad Bahavar, Political Activist
    12. Maryam Bahrman, Women’s Rights Defender
    13. Narges Bajoghli, Scholar and Assistant Professor at SAIS, Johns Hopkins University
    14. Rudi Bakhtiar, Journalist
    15. Fereidoon Bashar, Executive Director at ASL19
    16. Masoud Bastani, Journalist
    17. Amir Bayani, Head of MENA Program at ARTICLE 19
    18. Farangis Bayat, Women’s Rights Defender and Researcher
    19. Hamed Behravan, President of
    20. Farhad Davoodi, Translator and Writer
    21. Parastoo Dokouhaki, Women’s Rights Defender
    22. Majid Dori, Civic Activist
    23. Arefe Elyasi, Women’s Rights Defender
    24. Reza Fani Yazdi, Human Rights Activist
    25. Nima Fatemi, Researcher and Founding Director of Kandoo
    26. Roja Fazaeli, Professor at Trinity College, Dublin
    27. Alireza Firoozi, Former Student Activist
    28. Hadi Ghaemi, Executive Director of the Center for Human Rights in Iran
    29. Saghi Ghahraman, Iranian Queer Organization (IRQO)
    30. Reza Ghazinouri, Human Rights Activist
    31. Mahdiye Golrou, Women’s Rights Activist
    32. Fatemeh Haghighatjoo, Nonviolence Initiative for Democracy
    33. Aidin Hassanloo, Journalist
    34. Sourena Hashemi, Project Coordinator at Net Freedom Pioneers
    35. Mo Hosseini, MENA Program Officer at ARTICLE 19
    36. Sirous Hosseinifar, Artist
    37. Maryam Hosseinkhah, Journalist
    38. Mahboube Hosseinzadeh, Women’s Rights Defender
    39. Thomas Hughes, Executive Director of ARTICLE 19
    40. Mehri Jafari, Lawyer and Human Rights Activist
    41. Guissou Jahangiri, Women’s Rights Defender and Executive Director of the International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH)
    42. Mahdieh Javid, Human Rights Attorney
    43. Sepideh Jodeyri, Poet and Women’s Rights Defender
    44. Hadi KahalZadeh, Researcher of Public Policy at Brandeis University
    45. Parvin Kahzadi, Journalist and Civic Activist
    46. Parisa Kakaee, Women’s and Children’s Rights Activist
    47. Mehrangiz Kar, Human Rights Lawyer and Women’s Rights Defender
    48. Mina Keshavarz, Film Director
    49. Nooshin Keshavarznia, Women’s Rights Activist
    50. Azam Khatam, Researcher and University Professor
    51. Mostafa Khosravi, Director of Communication at Arseh Sevom
    52. Nasim Khosravi Moghaddam, Writer and Theatre Director
    53. Masoud Ladoni, Meli-Mazhabi Activist
    54. Firuzeh Mahmoudi, Executive Director of United for Iran
    55. Mahtab Mahmoudi, Women’s Rights Defender
    56. Feri Malek-Madani, Women’s Rights Activist
    57. James Marchant, Research Manager at Small Media
    58. Sara Masoumi, Journalist
    59. Anna May, Director of Development and Operations at ASL19
    60. Maryam Mazrooei, War Photographer and Journalist
    61. Ahmad Medadi, Teacher Rights Activist
    62. Roozbeh MirEbrahimi, Journalist and Researcher
    63. Naheed Mirhaj, Women’s Rights Defender
    64. Ziba Mir-Hosseini, Researcher
    65. Manijeh Moazen, Journalist
    66. Azin Mohajerin, Civic Activist and Researcher
    67. Mehrnoosh Mohammadian, Activist
    68. Sohrab Mokhtari, Writer and Translator
    69. Zahra Moshtagh, Journalist
    70. Laleh Mostofi, Film Director
    71. Mani Mostofi, Senior Human Rights Advisor at United for Iran
    72. Sarvenaz Mostofi, Artist
    73. Negar Mottahdeh, Professor
    74. Alieh Mottalebzadeh, Women’s Rights Defender and Journalist
    75. Ali Akbar Mousavi, Former member of Iran’s Parliament and Internet Freedom Advocate
    76. Zia Nabavi, Student Activist
    77. Mojtaba Najafi, Researcher
    78. Gissou Nia, Human Rights Lawyer
    79. Mohammad Oliyafard, Human Rights Lawyer
    80. Shahriar Paknia, Researcher and University Professor
    81. Zeinab Peyghambarzadeh, Gender Equality Activist
    82. Mohammad Pourabdollah, Political Activist
    83. Azadeh Pourzand, Executive Director of Siamak Pourzand Foundation
    84. Somaye Qodousi, Civic Researcher
    85. Hossein Raessi, Human Rights Lawyer and Professor at Law
    86. Keyvan Rafie, Director at Human Rights Activists in Iran
    87. Neelam Raina, Associate Professor at Middlesex University
    88. Niloofar Rajaeifar, Actress
    89. Somayeh Rashidi, Women’s Rights Defender
    90. Negar Razavi, Scholar and Visiting Assistant Professor in Anthropology at William and Mary
    91. Sabra Rezai, Women’s Rights Activist
    92. Afsaneh Rigot, MENA Officer at ARTICLE 19
    93. Simin Rouzgard, Human Rights Activist
    94. Touraj Saberivand, Social Activist
    95. Setareh Sabety, Journalist
    96. Aida Sadat, Human and Women’s Rights Activist
    97. Sima Saeedi, Former Journalist
    98. Isa Saharkhiz, Journalist
    99. Mousa Saket, Political and Civic Activist and member of Advar Tahkim Vahdat
    100. Afsaneh Salari, Filmmaker
    101. Faraz Sanei, Human Rights Lawyer
    102. Rod Sanjabi, Human Rights Lawyer
    103. Nasim Sarabandi, Women’s Rights Defender
    104. Daisy Schmitt, Women’s Rights Programme Officer at the International Federation of Human        Rights (FIDH)
    105. Kevin Schumacher, Human Rights Defender
    106. Mahdis Sdeghipouya, Women’s Rights Defender and Gender Researcher
    107. Afshin Shahi, Senior Lecturer at the University of Bradford
    108. Sima Shakhsari, Professor at the University of Minnesota
    109. Mansoureh Shoajee, Researcher and Women’s Rights Activist
    110. Jinous Sobhani, Human Rights, Women’s Rights, and Children’s Rights Activist
    111. Maedeh Soltani, Human Rights Defender
    112. Amir Soltani, Author, Zahra’s Paradise
    113. Bita Tahbaz, Women’s Rights Activist
    114. Sussan Tahmasebi, Women’s Rights Defender and Executive Director of FEMENA
    115. Maziar Tataei, Attorney at Law
    116. Nayereh Tohidi, Professor and Director of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies at California State University, Northridge
    117. Soheila Vahdati, Independent Scholar
    118. Adrienne van Heteren, Director at Small Media
    119. Kyra Wigard, Legal Fellow at Armanshahr and OPENASIA
    120. Mitra Zargar, Sociologist and Human Rights Advocate
    121. Parvin Zarrabi, Women’s Rights, Peace, and Environmental Activist