HRA Publishes Book on History, Obstacles, and Achievements

“To all those who sacrificed to advance the rights of others. To those who went to prison, into exile, to our mothers-  who were our first human rights teachers, to those who died in love along the way. To Jamal Hosseini, Farzad Kamangar, Michael Cromartie, Taher Elchi, Ali Ajami” 


Human Rights Activists in Iran is pleased to announce the forthcoming August 30th release of ‘Human Rights Activists in Iran: History, Obstacles, Achievements’ now available for pre-order at Barnes and Noble. 

Human Rights Activists in Iran (HRA) has been documenting abuses and advocating for the rights of victims inside of Iran since 2006. Founded by Director Keyvan Rafiee, the organization has grown from grassroots activism to a multi-divisional non-profit organization headquartered in Washington D.C. USA. Today, HRA is one of the oldest operating organizations focused on human rights in Iran and boasts the largest network of in-country volunteers. 

The story of HRA is fraught with struggle; members have worked tirelessly to promote respect for human rights and have consequentially faced imprisonment, exile, and death. 

Human Rights Activists in Iran: History, Obstacles, Achievements is dedicated “To all those who sacrificed to advance the rights of others. To those who went to prison, into exile, to our mothers-  who were our first human rights teachers, to those who died in love along the way. To Jamal Hosseini, Farzad Kamangar, Michael Cromartie, Taher Elchi, Ali Ajami” 

The opening chapter, written by Keyvan Rafie, tells the story of how HRA was formed during a time when he and his founding colleagues were imprisoned. He reflects on the challenges, widespread as they were, including a lack of technology, citing a time before the widespread availability of the internet in Iran, as well as targeted harassment. Determined to create an organization that would stand the test of time, he writes, “We realized that without planning, discipline, and a coherent structure, there was no hope for our survival. By studying and by gaining experience [in human rights], we were able to develop certain principles… The lack of any of [these principles] would have meant the end of our activism.” 

Keyvan also notes core principles that were established at the organization’s founding, principles that continue to lead HRA today: being youth-led, maintaining a social base inside the country, and the principle of non-discrimination, among others. The book features sections dedicated to HRA members that have lost their lives as a result of their dedication to human rights, including Farzad Kamangar, executed at the hands of the regime, and Jamal Hosseini, who lost his life while working in exile. 

Throughout the book, prominent human rights activists, lawyers, and community leaders share their stories and experiences of both being part of HRA and witnessing its work, in the hopes of inspiring future generations of activists. They include:

  • Keyvan Rafiee – Founder and Director of Human Rights Activists in Iran
  • Behrouz Sadegh Khanjani – Head of the Iranian Church organization and a former prisoner of conscience
  • George Haroonian – Iranian-American Jewish human rights activist
  • Simin Rouzgard – Former Editor of Peace Mark Magazine
  • Ladan & Roya Boroumand – Founders and directors of Abdorrahman Boroumand Center
  • Rezvaneh Mohammadi – A Gender and Sexual Minorities activist who was sentenced to 5 years because of her activism
  • Shahed Alavi – Journalist and Kurdish rights activist
  • Habibollah Sarbazi – Journalist and founder of the Baloch Activists Campaign
  • Shirin Ebadi – Lawyer, founder of Defenders of Human Rights Center in Iran, a former judge who received the Nobel Prize for Peace in 2003
  • Kavian Sadaghzadeh Milani – Founder of the Center for Health and Human Rights, Baha’i rights activist
  • Simin Fahandaj – Spokesperson for the Baha’i International Community
  • Dian Alaei – The Baha’i International Community representative
  • Kouhyar Goudarzi – Journalist and co-founder of the Committee of Human Rights Reporters
  • Hossein Raeesi – Lawyer and author
  • Hadi Ghaemi – Founder of the Center for Human Rights in Iran
  • Dr. Abdolkarim Lahiji – Lawyer and President of the International Federation for Human Rights
  • Mehrangiz Kar – Lawyer, author, and human rights activist
  • Elahe Sharifpour-Hicks – Former Human Rights Watch researcher and director of the Human Rights and Planning Group in New York
  • Shadi Sadr – Lawyer, and Co-founder of Justice for Iran
  • Karim Khalaf Dahimi – Arab human rights activist
  • Ali Kalaei – Journalist and former prisoner of conscience
  • Ali Ajami – Former editor of HRANA, a former prisoner of conscience (he passed away in 2020)
  • Behrouz Javid Tehrani – Former prisoner of conscience for a decade, research assistant at Human Rights Watch
  • Jamshid Barzegar – Former BBC Persian site editor, director of the Persian section of Deutsche Welle (Germany)
  • Morteza Kazemian – Journalist and member of the Central Council of the Association for the Defense of Press Freedom
  • Najaf Nemati – Researcher, writer, and Turkish rights activist
  • Siamak Ghaderi – Editor-in-Chief of various newspapers in Iran, including the State News Agency (IRNA), a former prisoner of conscience, and winner of the Hellman Prize –Human Rights Watch
  • Reza Haghighat-Nejad – Author and analyst who is a contributor to many news media
  • Reza Haji-Hosseini – Editor of Human Rights section in Radio Zamaneh
  • Kaveh Ghoreishi – Activist, author, and reporter
  • Kambiz Ghafouri – Political analyst and journalist for various media outlets, including Radio Free Europe and Iran International



Human Rights Activists in Iran: History, Obstacles, Achievements’ is published in hopes that the tireless work of those who have sacrificed everything will forever be ingrained in history.

Update: Women’s Rights Activist Rezvaneh Mohammadi Transferred to Evin Prison


Rezvaneh Mohammadi was released on bail on Saturday October 20, 2018.

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – On Saturday, September 29th, women’s rights activist Rezvaneh Mohammadi was transferred to the Women’s Ward of Evin Prison at the end of her interrogation. She had been in custody in an undisclosed location since her arrest by security forces September 3rd.

Mohammadi is among a group of women’s and civil rights activists who in recent months have been pursued with renewed fervor by authorities. Najmeh Vahedi, Hoda Amid, and Maryam Azad, also women’s rights activists, have all been detained for unknown reasons during this period.

Vahedi and Amid had reportedly held educational training workshops for women inquiring about their rights in marriage contracts. Previously, in a brief interview with HRANA, Vahedi’s brother Reza said, “In a one-minute phone conversation with my sister on Tuesday, September 4th, she was only able to tell us that she didn’t know her charges or why she had been arrested. We keep inquiring [with authorities], and are getting anxious because it’s been 11 days and we still don’t know what’s going on.”

More than 750 domestic and foreign civil activists issued a statement over the weekend in protest of the increasing pressures on Iranian women’s rights activists, demanding their immediate and unconditional release.

Human Rights Watch issued a statement on September 5th of this year asking Iranian authorities to stop the repression of human rights defenders like Hoda Amid and Najmeh Vahedi and to immediately release those who are in custody for peaceful expressions of dissent.

Amnesty International also voiced their opposition to this civil crackdown last month, demanding that affected prisoners be immediately released and that defendants not be limited to a list of regime-designated attorneys.

Three Women’s Rights Activists Detained in Three Days

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – Rezvaneh Mohammadi is the third women’s rights activist to be taken into custody by authorities in the past three days.

A source close to Mohammadi’s family told HRANA that she was arrested by security forces for unknown reasons on the evening of Monday, September 3, 2018.

Mohammadi’s arrest comes only two days after the arrests of activists Najmeh Vahedi and Hoda Amid, an attorney, on September 1st. The two were reportedly arrested for hosting training workshops for women inquiring about their rights in marriage contracts. At the time of this report, no further information was available on their conditions or the reasons behind their arrests.

Mohammadi, Vahedi, and Amid join a recent wave of citizens detained for their active and public defense of human rights. Lawyers Arash Kaykhosravi, Payam Dorafshan, Farrokh Forouzan, and Ghasem Sholeh-Saadi were detained in August. Dorafshan and Forouzan have since been released.