Iran Special Report: The Attack on Civil Society in Iran
Arseh Sevom, a newly-established NGO, has published a comprehensive report entitled “The Attack on Civil Society in Iran.” The report reviews the suppression of Iranian civil society by the Iranian government in recent years. The introduction describes the report’s contents: “This report does not concentrate on any particular individuals or organization, but rather on patterns of abuse that target different sectors of society through abuse of individuals and organizations…Dozens of reports exist about the abuse of individuals. We try to review the internal conditions which have led to the attacks on civil society…”
The report covers the period since 2005, since the election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as president, a period which succeeded an era of relative freedom for Iranian civil society. Immediately after Ahmadinejad’s 2005 victory, limitations were put in place on civil society organizations and their members through closures, travel bans for individuals, and other restrictions.
Some of the topics the report reviews and makes recommendations for include the relative growth of civil society, the struggle between reform and suppression, the 2005 elections, the development of a new political class, the velvet revolution, the government’s control of workers, and attacks on human rights activists.
“The Attack on Civil Society in Iran” was written by Dr. Sohrab Razzaghi, Kamran Ashtary, and Tori Egherman and published in the Netherlands with the help of HIVOS, a non-governmental organization. Previously, Dr. Razzaghi headed the non-governmental organization, The Volunteer Activists Institute, whose goal was to enable Iran’s civil society organizations. In the past ten years, he has published numerous articles in the area of Iranian civil society, reviewing points of weakness and strength for NGOs. The Volunteer Activists Institute organized the International Conference on Information Society in West Asia and has been active in the area of NGO laws in Iran, along with other civil society organizations.
Kamran Ashtary and Tori Egherman have also published several articles about Iran.