We also learned that every once in awhile what we do, no matter how small, makes a difference. We are just one of many forces influencing civil society. We are not the only one or the most important one. We are not alone. There are others fighting for human rights, advocating for the marginalized, addressing issues of poverty, volunteering to clean parks and beaches, rebuilding homes destroyed by earthquakes, and participating in the life of society.
Dear Readers, What does it mean to have a vibrant civil society? For us at Arseh Sevom it means giving voice to women, minorities, people on the margins of society. It’s about organizing your neighbors to get a stop sign placed on a dangerous corner, selling cookies to support a local school. It’s about advocating for the rights [...]
In this, our first ever annual report, we look back on 2010, share our accomplishments and even some of our struggles. This first report covers four months of operations.
The objective of Arseh Sevom as an organization is to use our annual reports as learning documents. This means we strive for transparency, while making a case for Arseh Sevom. This is a difficult path. Annual reports are meant to show the world how wonderful we are. By sharing our struggles as well as our successes, we demonstrate our trust in our stakeholders to help us do everything possible to become successful in our mission to promote a vibrant civil society in Iran and related communities. Arseh Sevom is a learning organization that seeks out and shares knowledge from people and organizations all over the world. We welcome your participation.
In this paper, published as part of a report on ICTs and Environmental Society, Arseh Seovm’s Sohrab Razzaghi argues that ICT can be used to promote sustainable growth in Iran. He suggests using Information and Communication Technology to address issues of city management, pollution, and environmental issues. The paper stresses the need for more open access to ICT and a commitment to democratic values.
Legalizing the Murder of Civil Society looks at a bill coming up for a vote on the floor of Iran’s parliament that would completely change the legal procedures for registering and operating civil society organizations. Arseh Sevom is releasing a paper analyzing the impact of the proposed law. This bill,The Establishment and Supervision of NGOs, if ratified and executed as written, would mean the end of legally operating, independent civil society in Iran.
Essentially, it would set up an extralegal committee that would have the power both to issue permits for civil society organizations and to revoke those permits.
It seems that the discussion and vote on this bill is timed to precede the appointment of the UN’s Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Assembly in Iran (March 2011). (Read More)
In this policy paper on the state of civil society in Iran, Razzaghi makes a number of claims and offers recommendations for bolstering independent civil society in Iran. Two of the most thought-provoking points concern the role of the UN in propping up state-sponsored and dependent civil society as opposed to independent civil society and the influx of former political insiders into independent civil society.
At present, and for the first time, an opposition has emerged from within the regime which none of the suppressive measures are able to drive into the margins. This opposition is getting increasingly stronger and has created splits among Iranian society, the clerical establishment, the government, and the people.
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. 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…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.”
At 1:30 PM, Thursday 15 March, 2007, when members of the board of directors of ICTRC were holding a weekly meeting and most of the staff were present at the ICTRC office, the Intelligence forces (4 persons at first, but 2 other persons showed up later too) came to ICTRC office holding a search warrant issued by the Islamic Republic Revolutionary Court.
Under the presidency of Mohammad Khatami (1997-2005), independent forms of civil society expanded. The growth in NGOs began prior to his presidency, but it was tolerated and given space to develop during his term in office. By the end of his term, official statistics reported 6914 registered NGOs in Iran.
Human rights abuses in the Islamic Republic of Iran are happening to individuals, but they are targeted at civil society. This is as true of the mistreatment and torture of those detained for protesting after the 2009 presidential elections as it is of the arbitrary arrests of human rights defenders.