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Working for civil liberties in Iran

Who we are

United for Iran is an independent nonprofit organization based in the San Francisco Bay Area working for civil liberties in Iran. We achieve our mission by improving human rights conditions, increasing the capacity of civil society, and engaging citizens through technology. We envision an Iran where the liberties and human rights of every citizen are honored. An Iran where ordinary citizens are empowered and engaged in public affairs. An Iran that is vibrant, open, and democratic. We believe that defending human rights is the responsibility of us all, and everyone has a role to play.



What we do

  • Citizen Engagement

    We build technologies that connect and inform citizens.

    As Iranians gain access to new technologies, we create opportunities to break the walls of censorship, isolation, and oppression. We focus on mobile applications that are secure, simple, and robust that allow people in country to organize, to communicate, and to raise their voices.

  • Iran Prison Atlas

    We maintain an atlas of Iran’s judicial system.

    We run Iran Prison Atlas, documenting the conditions of Iran's political prisoners, the judges that convict these prisoners, and the prisons that hold them. The atlas contains records of 2000+ times a courtroom has been used in Iran to unjustly take the life or liberty of an Iranian citizen.

  • Campaigns

    We run campaigns that raise public awareness.

    Our campaigns lead to direct pressure on the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI). The campaigns are aimed at saving lives, releasing prisoners or stop prosecutions of people who post something on Facebook, show up at a rally, or otherwise exercise their right to have a voice in the country they love.

  • Civil Society Support

    We support the movement inside Iran.

    The thousands of people who are willing to risk their freedom in Iran need support. Our network of activists and organizations worldwide collects best practices and offers resources to the people of Iran. They also provide them with strategic and organizational support.

Our Team

Our team includes campaigners, do-good technologists, and researchers based in the San Francisco Bay Area and around the world. We also work with dozens of consultants and volunteers from around the world.

Learn more


  • 2009: Global Day of Action

    Heavy-hearted by violence in the aftermath of the Iranian presidential elections, United for Iran founder Firuzeh Mahmoudi organized a global rally to draw attention to the tragedy unfolding in Iran. On July 25, 2009, tens of thousands of people in 110 cities around the world take to the streets in support of Iranian citizens and their quest for rights.What began as an idea turned into history’s biggest day of global solidarity for the people of Iran. United for Iran evolves from a commitment to build on this day.

  • 2010: Political Prisoners Awareness Day

    United for Iran launches a campaign to highlight cases of 50 political prisoners. People in 90 cities around the world “adopt” political prisoners, organize rallies, speak to the media and lead their own petition and postcard campaigns. Thousands of new people are engaged in support of Iranian political prisoners.

  • 2011: Azadi Music

    Azadi: Songs of Freedom for Iran is released featuring musical tributes to Iranian citizens from artists all over the world. The artists speak from direct experience with oppression and resistance, addressing Iran’s current conditions, imprisonment, and the Arab Spring.

  • 2012: Collaboration with United Nations

    United for Iran’s Puyan Mahmoudian speaks at the 21st session of the United Nation’s Human Rights Council. United for Iran maintains close ties with the United Nations and other international organizations and human rights bodies. United for Iran’s Iran Prison Atlas is quoted extensively by UN Special Rapporteur for Iran, Ahmed Shaheed.

  • 2013: Zahra Runs for President

    United for Iran joins forces with the author of the New York Times bestselling graphic novel Zahra’s Paradise to nominate Zahra –– a fictional mourning mother whose son was killed by authorities in 2009 –– as a 2013 presidential candidate. Zahra’s campaign focuses on human rights, receives wide media coverage and has grassroots supporters from over 20 countries. Islamic Republic media disavows Zahra’s campaign, calling United for Iran’s Director Firuzeh Mahmoudi an “anti-revolutionary fugitive.”

  • 2015: Campaign to Free Bahareh

    Advocating the release of political prisoners is central to our vision of an Iran that honors the human rights of every citizen. In 2015, United for Iran helped organize a campaign to free imprisoned student and women’s rights activist Bahareh Hedayat. To date, the petition has received over 129,000 signatures on

  • 2015: Safe Activism launches

    United for Iran partners with 30 former Iranian political prisoners and activists to produce the Safe Activism booklet — a guide for Iranian political and civic activists to prevent or mitigate the impacts of arrest and imprisonment.

  • 2016: A More Comprehensive Iran Prison Atlas

    United for Iran maintains a comprehensive and up-to-date record of Iranian political prisoners. In 2016, we expanded the Iran Prison Atlas to include related Iranian prisons and judges. In total, the Iran Prison Atlas includes over 2,000 records, shining a bright light on Iran’s judiciary system by making sure that every time a courtroom is used to take the life or the liberty of someone who simply exercised their basic rights, the injustice is documented for the world to know.

  • 2016: IranCubator 1.0: Putting Technology to Good Use

    United for Iran’s most ambitious project to date, IranCubator, is an app incubation project which is developing about one dozen social-good apps for Iran’s 40 million smartphone users. In 2016, IranCubator 1.0 was launched, creating a framework for Iran’s civic tech sector by connecting skilled app developers with civil society leaders to create a suite of social-good apps for the people of Iran. The apps generated in round one were downloaded over 700,000 times.

  • 2017: Behind Bars in Iran

    In 2017, we released a report based on interviews with two dozen current and former political prisoners and open letters written by political prisoners. Behind Bars in Iran includes alarming accounts about hygiene issues and lack of access to medical care, rampant mistreatment and torture experienced in Iran’s prisons, and offers recommendations on how to transition out of the current urgent conditions to a humane, sustainable, and practical model.

  • 2017: Prisoners’ Health Campaign

    Iran has hundreds of political prisoners. Iranian authorities routinely deny these men and women adequate nutrition and proper medical care. In 2017, we joined Atena Daemi and asked Asqar Jahangir, the head of Iran’s State Prison Organization, to fulfill his legal and moral obligation and provide prisoners with proper medical care. Over 70 thousand of you supported Atena’s call.

  • 2019: Clarion Mural Art Project

    In fall 2019, United for Iran co-organized an event with the Clarion Mural Art Project titled: In Honor of Iran’s Political Prisoners — a month-long, multi-faceted project of art, literature, and performances in remembrance of the hundreds of men and women who have been taken as political prisoners in Iran. The mural featured 7 Iranian women who have been imprisoned for their activism, including lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh, environmental activist Niloufar Bayani, social and civil activist Sepideh Gholian, and others.

  • 2020: IranCubator 2.0

    2020 brought the launch of the second round of our global contest for social good: IranCubator 2.0. After a community needs assessment conducted in late 2019, it was determined that the priority areas for the new round were the environment, women’s rights, ethnic minorities, vulnerable social groups, immigrants, Iran’s LGBTQI communities, and internet freedom. With the COVID-19 pandemic hitting Iran in a significant way beginning in early 2020, we expanded our call for ideas that could also support Iranian civil society during this especially challenging time.

The board

Our Board of Directors provides strategic, programmatic, and financial oversight ensuring United for Iran is healthy, transparent, and responsible. Community Advisory Board members help us think through our challenges and strategies and expand our network. Both boards also play a lead role in fundraising plans and activities.

Learn more


  • The Woman Building Iran’s Civic Tech Sector (From Across The World)

    This is the story of Firuzeh Mahmoudi, founder of United4Iran and IranCubator, the first civic tech-focused startup incubator in Iran. She is also a creator of civil justice apps and a businessperson. Her business? Creating social good in a country she loves. “Our mission is to improve civil liberties in Iran, and we do that in three ways,” says Mahmoudi, 45, who spent four years working for the United Nations in countries across the world as an international project coordinator before becoming a founder.  Read the full article in Forbes.

  • This App Lets Iranians Swipe Past Political Propaganda

    “In Iran, apps have become a kind of loophole in the government’s censorship policies. Iran is like a 20th century dictatorship working in the 21st century,” Bahari says. “They know how to shut down newspapers and interfere with shortwave radio, but when it comes to digital technology they don’t know what to do.” Read more here.

  • A Pirate Podcast App Takes on Iran’s Hardline Censors

    Today Ghazinouri and his fellow activists and coders at the Berkeley-based, Iran-focused app developer IranCubator will launch RadiTo, an audio app for Android uniquely suited to the conditions of the country’s internet. It navigates slow, expensive data connections, users who speak a variety of languages and dialects ignored by most podcast distributors, and trickiest of all, a draconian digital censorship regime. Read the full article at Wired.

  • This Trojan Horse App Sneaks Vital Info To Women In Iran

    Under the guise of a simple period-tracking app, Hamdam, which launched in Iran this weekend, will feature information about taboo subjects like STDs, contraception, domestic violence, and marriage contracts. Read the full article at BuzzFeed.

  • We have to stop nuclear negotiations from overshadowing Iran’s human rights record

    With progress being made in the negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program, it’s time for a new conversation about Iran – one about the country’s dismal human rights record.  See the original article in the Guardian here. Written by Firuzeh Mahmoudi and Mahdieh Javid.

  • A Female President of Iran?

    CNN’s Christiane Amanpour covers United for Iran’s Vote for Zahra campaign.

    Watch here.

  • Iranian Women Won More Than A Medal At The Olympics

    “…Darya Safai, a Belgium-Iranian woman, joined that fabled Olympic tradition of protest and barrier breaking. At the Iran versus Egypt men’s volleyball match in Rio, Safai held a sign reading: “Let Iranian women enter their stadiums,” protesting the Iranian government’s refusal to grant women access to soccer and volleyball matches in Iran.” Read the full article here.