Frequently Asked Questions
Human Rights in Iran
How can your work change the course of human rights violations in Iran?
- By providing firsthand and accurate information, we draw attention to human rights cases in various forums, from national capitals to international organizations like the United Nations. The international community can then hold Iranian authorities accountable for their human rights violations, thereby effecting changes in their behavior and the legal system in which they operate.
We also work with international media and civil society to influence governments, and those governments in turn put pressure on Iran to change its policies. There have been several successful outcomes of this strategy in recent years, such as the release of some prisoners of conscience and the changes to the Islamic Penal Code restricting the execution of juveniles.
Finally, by communicating with major actors in the field and keeping the discussion of human rights alive in Iran, we are able to engage more people and enhance the sensitivities of Iranian civil society. Our support and outreach helps Iranian civil society to influence human rights discourse and empowers Iranians to protect their own human rights. In cooperation with other human rights organizations, we continually foster networks and coalitions of activists that can amplify the impact of human rights work in Iran.
- Human rights advocacy means not just supporting human rights, but also actively working to make sure human rights are respected. We do this in a variety of ways, including direct engagement with powerful individuals, public outreach, and media awareness.
Our direct advocacy includes one-on-one meetings with policy makers at the national and international level. These policy makers include diplomats, government officials, United Nations delegates, corporations, and business leaders. We brief these decision makers on human rights abuses, and we encourage them to take positions and implement policies that address human rights concerns and pressure Iranian authorities to uphold human rights.
We often launch letter-writing campaigns that involve the public in demanding respect for human rights in Iran. Many of these letters, in addition to reaching Iranian officials, go to political leaders, foreign ministers, and envoys to the UN from dozens of other countries around the world. We also support social movements that are working towards human rights goals, like university students trying to address the denial of education to political activists or Baha’i students in Iran.
Media awareness is one of the most critical components of human rights advocacy. We reach out to opinion makers, influential public personalities, and journalists to bring human rights issues to the fore. We also encourage them to make public statements advocating for human rights principles and/or criticizing specific human rights abuses.
What is human rights advocacy?
- By raising human rights issues in the media, we amplify the voices of the victims of human rights violations. Media awareness sheds light on the situation on the ground, and brings these issues to the attention of concerned citizens and national governments. The resulting political pressure makes it harder for Iranian authorities to ignore their human rights problems and forces them to be accountable for their wrongdoings. Put simply, media awareness means that governments can’t get away with violating human rights. When we bring attention to certain cases, we put pressure on authorities to react and to be held responsible for their actions. Once concerned citizens are aware of the issues, they can also develop their own protests and campaigns, making it very costly for governments which do not respect human rights, and giving both hope and voice to victims of human rights abuses.
Why is media awareness important?
Inner-workings of the Campaign
- We choose the cases we cover based on four main criteria: the urgency of the situation, any emerging or documented trends relating to the issue, whether there are systematic or ongoing abuses around a certain topic, and, most importantly, whether we have access to reliable sources on the case. Our main areas of focus are based on the United Nations conventions which Iran has signed, and we also act on emergency cases and systematic human rights violations that happen over time. Our research is based on firsthand testimonies and information provided by human rights victims, their families and lawyers, and reliable local human rights activists, so access to these kinds of reliable sources is paramount. We cover as much as we can, given our time, resources, and access to reliable sources on the ground. We are always looking to expand our coverage of human rights in Iran.
How do you choose what you cover and what cases you work on?
- No. We are a non-political, non-partisan, non-governmental organization. We do not accept any funds from any governments.
Are you affiliated with any political party or government?
- Media and public discourse – We look at our success in raising awareness in terms of both the quantity and the quality of communications we have with journalists and media professionals, as well as other human rights organizations and activists regarding a variety of issues we cover. In terms of quantity, we note how often our work has been cited by other organizations and media. In terms of quality, we look at how they are covering issues that we have brought to light. Our press releases and reports are regularly republished or quoted by major Persian-language and international news organizations.
- International bodies’ and governments’ reactions to our institutional advocacy & media awareness work – Another marker is whether national governments and/or international institutions make public statements or adopt policies that directly pressure the Iranian government to improve its human rights record. For example, in 2010 we published Men of Violence, a report profiling 15 Iranian human rights violators and asking for international consequences for these individuals. Subsequently, several governments created targeted travel bans and asset freezes for human rights violators, including those we had profiled.
- The Iranian government’s response to our work – A number of prisoners have told us that Iranian officials are sensitive to the information we publish. For example, our continuous reporting on the conditions of prisoners of conscience has led to changes in the situation of individuals we cover. Similarly, Iranian officials have mentioned our work explicitly: when Ahmadinejad visited New York in 2011, he complained about a handbook detailing how to interview him with a focus on human rights violations, which journalists and others were using to question him. That handbook was called Reporters’ Guide: How to Interview Iranian Officials on Human Rights Issues.
- We gauge our impact according to both short-term and long-term goals. In the short term, we assess three main markers:
How do you gauge your impact?
In the long term, we measure our impact by looking for overall structural reforms from the government and culture-building within Iranian civil society. Structural reforms include impacting bilateral relations with other countries and changes to Iran’s internal legal structure. Culture-building within Iranian civil society includes promoting and facilitating their engagement with human rights mechanisms, such as the UN Special Rapporteur, and the increased use of human rights language and structure in discussing grievances and issuing complaints.
- In addition to its expansive network of on-the-ground contacts within Iran, the Campaign works in several locations throughout the world. The Campaign is headquartered in New York and works closely with partners in Europe and Latin America. We have a staff member stationed in São Paulo, Brazil, who collaborates closely with local non-governmental organizations (NGOs), including Conectas Human Rights.
Where are you located?
Currently active in Belgium, Switzerland, Brazil, and the United States, the Campaign is expanding its activities to emerging powers on the international stage, including India, Turkey, and South Africa. The Campaign publishes its website in English, Persian, and Portuguese.
- Spend some time getting to know the human rights issues in Iran. There is a lot of information available on our website, and you can always stay up-to-date with human rights in Iran by reading our latest news. To read more, check out our reports on our publications page, our interactive features on our multimedia page, our videos on YouTube, and our podcasts on iTunes.
- Add your voice to the cause: join and promote our letter-writing campaigns.
- As we are a 501(c)3 charity non-profit organization, you can always help us by making a tax-deductible donation to support and expand our work. Donate today to help us keep championing human rights in Iran.
- Help us raise awareness of human rights issues in Iran by covering our work. If you write for a blog or a newspaper, or you are hosting an event and want expert commentary, contact us.
- If you have firsthand information about human rights violations in Iran, please get in touch with us. In your email, describe the situation in as much detail as possible and please let us know how you acquired the information.
- The more people know about the human rights situation in Iran, the more pressure we exert on the government to change its policies. Share our work on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, check us out on YouTube and iTunes, and spread the word.
- Stay informed: sign up for our email list (LINK TO EMAIL SIGNUP PAGE)!
- There are many ways to get involved with the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran:
How can I get involved?
- Yes, in the United States. Since January 2012, the Campaign has been a recognized United States 501(c)3 charity organization. Donations made in the United States are tax-deductible.
Are donations tax-deductible?
- At this point in time, the Campaign is only accepting internship applications. We have a limited number of internship opportunities and these tend to coordinate with academic calendars (i.e., fall, spring, and summer internships). We accept applications on a rolling basis. If you are interested, please send your resume and a cover letter noting language skills to email@example.com.
How can I find out about internships or career opportunities?
- Please visit our Contact Us page for contact details.
How do I get in touch with you for research or other questions?
- There are many ways to keep in touch with us: to receive updates in your email or reader, sign up for our newsletter (LINK) or add us to your preferred RSS feed. You can also follow us on Twitter (@ICHRI) or like us on Facebook.
- The Campaign produces several different kinds of publications both online and in print. Most of these are available on our website; our reports are available on our publications page, our interactive features are available on our multimedia page, our videos are also available on YouTube, and our podcasts are also available on iTunes. Stay up-to-date with human rights in Iran by reading ourlatest news.
- We have limited quantities of printed reports, which we provide to academic institutions, Iran experts, and policymakers. All of our reports are available for download from our website. If you are interested in obtaining a hard copy of our reports, please contact us.