We are calling for your support in demanding that all human rights defenders, including but not limited to Nasrin Sotoudeh, Narges Mohammadi, Farhad Meysami, Esmail Bekhshi, Sepide Gholian, be immediately and unconditionally released, with all charges against them dropped. With parliamentary elections planned for February 2020, and Iran under Universal Periodic Review in November 2019, now is the time to call for authorities to protect and uphold the rights to Freedom of Assembly and Association according to international best practice.
Iranian civic space is shrinking at an unprecedented pace – even for Iranian standards – as authorities in Iran increasingly suppress independent civic action heavily and unlawfully. In the past year, Iran has seen the unparalleled rise of peaceful social protests and civic dissent despite a violent, authoritarian regime. The last two years have seen an alarming number of arrests and detention of civil society activists across a broad spectrum of environmental issues, human rights defenders, teachers’ and labor unionists, students and women’s rights.
To this end CIVICUS, as a global alliance of civil society around the world, and Volunteer Activists Institute, an NGO focusing on democracy, human rights, and peace building in the MENA region and specifically Iran, have launched a global campaign to hold the Iranian government accountable for its stark violations of the rights to freedom of association and peaceful assembly in the country. Stand with Volunteer Activists Institute and CIVICUS members in solidarity and call for change to restrictions on civic space from the government of Iran ahead of elections in 2020.