CONTACT: Kamran Ashtary

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UPDATED on September 21, 2010
Attack on Civil Society in Iran
Download the pdf: Arseh Sevom: Attack on Civil Society

In mid-June 2009, millions of Iranians took to the streets to protest a deeply flawed election. In the days and weeks that followed, reports of suppression, deaths in prison, torture, and rape, shocked people all over the world. According to a report by Arseh Sevom, these crackdowns were predictable given the anti-democratic nature of the Ahmadinejad administration.

“Despite the increasingly liberal and pragmatic character of Iranian society, this current administration is highly ideological and hostile to democracy,” Tori Egherman, one of the authors of the report states.

Arseh Sevom’s [Third Sphere] report, The Attack on Civil Society in Iran, shows how the post-election crackdowns fit into a larger pattern of restricting the development of civil society. While the abuses happen to individuals, they are designed to undermine the democratic development of Iran as a nation. Dr. Sohrab Razzaghi, another author of the report states, “They have chosen to read Iran’s ambiguous constitution as fundamentally undemocratic.”

From worker’s rights to women’s rights, the Ahmadinejad administration has sought to undermine them all. Reporters, activists, students, and others are systematically harassed as a warning to others who would take their places.


Arseh Sevom (Third Sphere, which refers to the role of civil society) is a non-governmental organization established/registered in 2010 in Amsterdam, aiming to promote peace, democracy, and human rights. The organization’s objective is to help build the capacity of organizations in Persian-speaking communities and encourage the development of a vigorous third sphere of civil activities. Arseh Sevom is non-partisan and independent and focuses on peace, democracy, and human rights.

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Authors: Tori Egherman lived and worked in Iran from 2003-2007 and has published a number of articles on Iran and other topics.

Sohrab Razzaghi, PhD is the former executived director of the Iran Civil Society Organization Training and Research Center, which was shut down by the Islamic Republic of Iran in 2007.

Kamran Ashtary is the former Director of Communications at Radio Zamaneh and co-author of the book Iran: View from Here.

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