Civil Society

The Editor. April 17, 2014

The Day I Became a Feminist

Arseh Sevom–Feminism is essentially the idea that women and men should have equal rights and opportunities. “The notion of freedom for men is not reality in Iran as long as women are not equal” Safoura Elyasi writes. She spoke to several Iranian male activists about their relationship to feminism. One told her: “A lot of people think that women are not currently in the right situation to be treated equally, so we should not extend equality to them. Equality needs to be in the act. It’s related to power. This idea that women are not ready for equality so they should not have it is flawed. In addition to civil actions, we need underlying cultural changes.” In part one of a two part article, we hear from three different men.


The Editor. March 19, 2014

Nasrin Sotoudeh: Equality Will Prevail

Arseh Sevom — In this exclusive interview with Arseh Sevom editor Mohammad Reza Sardari, human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh discusses the very personal impact of her struggle for equality and justice. She tells of a young son who lost his childhood. “I grew up all of a sudden,” he tells her. In 2013, she was released from prison after serving three years of a six-year sentence for her activities defending the rights of her clients. In this interview, she reminds all of us that there is a price worth paying for the achievement of justice and equality.

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The Editor. November 7, 2013

Azerbaijan: Re-establishing Civil Society

Arseh Sevom–In part two of Arturo Desimone’s interview with the civil society activist “O” in Azerbaijan, we read about the struggles to create capacity for critically analyzing the actions taken by the government. Education, O, argues is something that cannot be left to the government. “I think we have to start now with realism,” O states, “actually depicting the sufferings as they are, in their immense intensity and contrast, in all their extreme dimensions.”


The Editor. October 14, 2013

Azerbaijan: Rebuilding Culture from the Ruins

Arseh Sevom — In the first of a two-part article documenting his conversation with Azeri opposition member “O.”, Arturo Desimone uncovers a movement struggling to reclaim its heritage of critical thinking. It does this through education, translations, and social movements. After ninety years under Soviet Rule followed by authoritarian rule rife with human rights abuses, O. describes a society in need of reconnecting to its own culture and in learning again to question, think critically, and create its own Enlightenment.


The Editor. September 3, 2013

Iran — Fearing the Tyrant Not the Change

Arseh Sevom–The final post of a three-part series summarizing the Hivos report, The Green Movement: Seizing the State or Democratizing Society, examines the long struggle for democracy in Iran and the stunted growth of its civil society. Editor Shervin Nekuee states that “The most essential question these citizens have to deal with is whether they are capable of preventing the arrival of yet another tyrant…” Civil Society activist Sohrab Razzaghi says, “The fundamental issue is that the idea of a civil society is not yet considered a social project among Iranian intelligentsia and social forces [...]”


Arseh Sevom–The presence of women in the public demonstrations of the Green Movement before and after Iran’s 2009 presidential elections was undeniable. They were on the front lines, in public, advocating for change. Their voices were strong during the nightly chants from Tehran’s rooftops. The non-hierarchical structure of the womens’ movement and its long history building coalitions among people with different political ideologies was key for the dispersed leadership of the Green Movement. While the women’s movement may have contributed to the discourse on non-violence, violence is unavoidable for a resistance movement writes author Ammar Maleki in his contribution. He writes, “Civil resistance avoids violence, but it never escapes it; if that were the case then it would never be resistance.” In this short piece, chapters two and three of the Hivos report, The Green Movement: Seizing the State or Democratizing Society, are summarized. This is part two of a three-part series.


The Editor. August 26, 2013

What is the Green Movement Dreaming About?

Arseh Sevom — In a recent Hivos report examining Iran’s Green Movement since the 2009 presidential campaign until now, researchers and activists reflect on different aspects of the movement. This is the first of several posts summarizing the content of the report.


In a new series, Arseh Sevom summarizes reports on civil society throughout the world. This post looks at the 2012 publication of Defending Civil Society. This report notes that the space for civil society throughout the world seems to be shrinking even as consensus on the need for an independent civil society is growing.


The Editor. May 30, 2013

Hope Concert

Iranian-American journalist and peace activist Roxana Saberi, who will present the HOPE Concert at the Velodrom in Berlin on June 7, announces the concert at a press conference on May 21, 2013. On June 7, Iranian-American journalist and peace activist Roxana Saberi, who was arrested in Iran in 2009 and freed after international outcry, will [...]


The Editor. October 26, 2012

Sanctions: Who stole my medicine?

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Arseh Sevom – The lives of six million patients in Iran are adversely affected due to shortages of medicine, as an immediate result of unprecedented sanctions. On top of the existing crippling sanctions, the European Union ministers agreed to a new set against Iran, on October 15, These new sanction ban the import of natural [...]


The Editor. August 23, 2012

Uncertainty Fuels Economic Woes in Iran

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Interview with Dr. Sara Bazoobandi, Economic Analyst by Reza Haji Hosseini Arseh Sevom – The shadow of sanctions is over Iran. Economic sanctions with the objective of putting pressure on the government are hitting ordinary people hard. Prices are rising moment by moment. The value of the currency is dropping, the price of gold is [...]


The Editor. June 18, 2012


Post image for #RememberIran

The hashtag RememberIran is being used on Twitter to share memories from the events of three years ago in Iran. A small sample of the tweets follows: [View the story "RememberIran" on Storify]