Arseh Sevom (Third Sphere) is a non-governmental organization established in 2010 in Amsterdam. Arseh Sevom aims to promote a vibrant civil society in Iran and related communities. The organization’s activities are in service to that goal. Arseh Sevom is Persian for “third sphere,” referring to the endeavors taken on by civil society. Civil society actors amplify the voices of all of aspects of society, including and especially the voices of those forced into the margins. They highlight difficult, even unpopular issues, attempt to curb the excesses of power, and inspire passion. Arseh Sevom was formed to address the needs of civil society actors.

In the wake of Iran’s disputed 2009 presidential elections, many civil society actors faced increasingly restricted measures imposed by the state. These include travel limitations, sanctions against associations, as well as the harassment, arbitrary detentions, and unfounded charges against organizations and individuals comprising Iran’s civil society.
Arseh Sevom supports the endeavors of civil society actors in various ways, including by creating reports on abuses against the third sphere, providing information and undertaking exchanges with other NGOs and the international human rights community, as well as by developing materials, best practices and standards, and other resources that can be used to build capacity among individuals and groups. Arseh Sevom strives to build key partnerships to further evolve the concept of civil society and further develop the links and relationships needed to sustain a strong and future-focused community of civil society actors.

To make the transition to a more open society, it is important to address the cultural and political roadblocks to the implementation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Arseh Sevom aims to further the efforts of Iran’s civil rights movement by working with its leaders to build capacity and address future needs and developments. The group also plans to develop advocacy tools to address the attitude to human rights among intellectuals, activists, and the general public.

Until March of 2007, Sohrab Razzaghi served as executive director of ICTRC, and, until a few months after the June elections, he worked as a civil society activist and human rights defender in Iran. After the June elections, threats against his personal safety forced him to leave the country for a fellowship in the Netherlands.

During Khatami’s administration, Razzaghi led the national office of political research where he worked to develop civil society institutions in Iran. Razzaghi has left the organization to form his own NGO.

Kamran Ashtary, former Communications Director of Radio Zamaneh, brings years of project management experience to Arseh Sevom. After leaving Iran in the early 1980s, Ashtary lived and worked in Amsterdam, New York, and California. In 2003, he returned to Iran for four years, where he managed his own business. Ashtary recently organized the United4Iran July 25th and December 12th events in the Netherlands.

Ashtary is co-author of the blog View from Iran (viewfromiran.blogspot.com) and the book Iran: View from Here. His photographs of Iran were recently published in the book, Iran Ist Anders, published in Switzerland.

Arseh Sevom is sponsored, in part, by Hivos.

A fair, free and sustainable world – that is what Hivos, the Humanist Institute for Development Cooperation, wants to contribute to. Together with local organisations in developing countries, Hivos strives for a world in which all citizens – both men and women – have equal access to resources and opportunities for development.