Arseh Sevom (Third Sphere) is a non-governmental organization established in 2010 in Amsterdam, aiming to promote peace, democracy, and human rights. Human and civil rights belong to all sectors of society and to all individuals. Arseh Sevom promotes the advancement of rights for people of all beliefs, genders, ethnicities, non-violent political affiliations, and more. A key aim for Arseh Sevom is to work with individuals and organizations to amplify their actions and efforts in the promotion of civil society.

At the end of 2012, an independent evaluator made an extensive review of Arseh Sevom’s practices and accomplishments over its first three years of operation. The evaluator spoke to a number of people affected by the organization’s work. He wrote:

Arseh Sevom was several times referred to as being and creating “a living exercise in democracy.” This is a compliment that simultaneously includes a task and challenge for the future!


Arseh Sevom works to create tools, resources, and opportunities for learning and collaboration that promote a capable, vibrant, and pluralistic civil society inside Iran, in the diaspora, and among related communities.


We envision a strengthened civil society in Iran and among related communities that is capable, pluralistic, participatory, and effective at achieving its objectives.

What is Civil Society?

Arseh Sevom has adopted John Samuel’s definition of civil society organizations as informal, semiformal, or formal organizations that protect, promote, and facilitate principles and practices of democracy, participation, pluralism, rights, equity, justice and peace among people locally, nationally, and internationally.

By adopting this definition, we aim to work with groups that recognize the rights of others and encourage practices of inclusion.


Arseh Sevom has a diverse group of paid and volunteer contributors. Kamran Ashtary is the Executive Director.

Kamran Ashtary

“Why do I do the work I do? Because I have no choice. I can’t help myself from believing the world can be a better place if we work for it.”

Kamran Ashtary is an artist, human rights defender, and researcher. He is director of the Netherlands-based civil society organization, Arseh Sevom and a founding member of United4Iran and was their European coordinator from 2009-2010.

After leaving Iran in the early 1980s, Kamran studied in New York and Amsterdam. In 2003, Kamran returned to Iran for four years, where he managed his own design and communication company. Kamran worked as director of communication and development at Radio Zamaneh. He is frequently interviewed in the press about Iran and has given lectures on media in closed societies in Budapest, Athens, Berlin, New York, and Amsterdam. For the last four years he has also been an invited speaker for Amnesty International’s Movies that Matter festival.

Since 2010, Kamran has spoken on human rights in secondary schools in the Netherlands as part of an Amnesty International effort.

Kamran is the designer and editor of the 2010 book, Hope, Votes & Bullets, a co-author of the blog View from Iran (, and the book Iran: View from Here. His photographs of Iran were also published in the book, Iran Ist Anders, published in Switzerland.