Iranian Human Rights Defenders and Activists Stand Against War and Repression
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.
Amin Ahmadian, Member of the Central Committee of Advar-e Takim-e Vahdat
Niki Akhavan, Associate Professor at the Catholic University of America
Leila Alikarami, Human Rights Lawyer and Women’s Rights Defender
Mahsa Alimardani, Technology and Human Rights Researcher at ARTICLE 19
Mehdi Aminzadeh, Political Activist
Leila Asadi, Women’s Rights Defender and PhD Candidate in Justice Studies
Zeinab Asgharpour, Political Activist and member of the Central Committee of Advar-e Takim-e Vahdat
Kamran Ashtary, Executive Director at Arseh Sevom
Kaveh Azarhoosh, Senior Researcher at Small Media
Arash Azizi, Writer, Scholar, and PhD Candidate at New York University
Emad Bahavar, Political Activist
Maryam Bahrman, Women’s Rights Defender
Narges Bajoghli, Scholar and Assistant Professor at SAIS, Johns Hopkins University
Rudi Bakhtiar, Journalist
Fereidoon Bashar, Executive Director at ASL19
Masoud Bastani, Journalist
Amir Bayani, Head of MENA Program at ARTICLE 19
Farangis Bayat, Women’s Rights Defender and Researcher
Hamed Behravan, President of Movements.org
Farhad Davoodi, Translator and Writer
Parastoo Dokouhaki, Women’s Rights Defender
Majid Dori, Civic Activist
Arefe Elyasi, Women’s Rights Defender
Reza Fani Yazdi, Human Rights Activist
Nima Fatemi, Researcher and Founding Director of Kandoo
Roja Fazaeli, Professor at Trinity College, Dublin
Alireza Firoozi, Former Student Activist
Hadi Ghaemi, Executive Director of the Center for Human Rights in Iran