116 Iranian Rights Defenders Warn of “Devastating” Consequences of US-Iran Military Conflict


by Center for Human Rights in Iran

In response to soaring tensions between Iran and the United States, 116 Iranian human rights defenders and groups based inside and outside the country have signed a statement warning of the “devastating” consequences of a military conflict.

The impact of military action on Iran would “lead to an accelerated human rights and humanitarian crisis and would only serve to destabilize an already troubled region,” said the statement co-organized by United for Iran and the Center for Human Rights in Iran.

The signatories–including activists, lawyers, journalists, and lawyers–have long advocated for the rights of the Iranian people. Those who are based in Iran have done so despite the grave risks of arrest and imprisonment for engaging in peaceful activism.

Following is the letter, which is also available on our Persian-language website.

We, the undersigned Iranian and international human rights organizations and advocates, express grave concerns over the rising tensions between the United States and the Islamic Republic of Iran, which risks a military confrontation that would cause massive human rights harms. We urge all parties and international actors to take immediate and clear steps to prevent a conflict.

The impact of any military action in Iran, as we have seen in neighboring countries, would be devastating. It would likely lead to an accelerated human rights and humanitarian crisis and could only serve to destabilize an already troubled region. Only peace-focused policies that prioritize the rights and well-being of ordinary people in Iran and the region can provide meaningful, long-term benefits.

We have a deep understanding of the problems in Iran, including human rights challenges and corruption within some government sectors. We have dedicated our lives to strengthening the rights of women and girls, ethnic minorities, religious minorities, workers, journalists, university students, LGBTQ people, artists, and political prisoners in Iran. We have fought for the freedom of speech, freedom of religion, the right to a fair trial, socio-economic rights of the Iranian people, and an end to discrimination. We have consistently opposed Iranian authorities in their abuse of power and oppressive policies. It is from this perspective that we warn against the threat posed by military conflict.

We also fear that military action against Iran will be disastrous for millions of ordinary people and could lead to the type of violent sectarian civil conflict seen in neighboring countries. The instability of these conflicts and the extent to which they pit groups of people against each other has led to immeasurable human rights abuses.

Many Iran-based human rights defenders have expressed dismay that broad economic sanctions imposed by the US and the specter of war have already made their work more difficult. Many of them are struggling to make ends meet in a depressed economy, while their activities have become increasingly risky in a heightened security environment. The threat of war has strengthened support for the Iranian state’s security approaches and has been used as a pretext to crack down on activists. Minority communities, who have little space for civic activism, suffer the brunt of crackdowns at such times. Many Iranian human rights defenders fear that an actual military conflict would give the Iranian security forces an opportunity to finally put a complete stop to their advocacy efforts.

These concerns reflect some of the likely outcomes of any military confrontation in Iran, underscoring the need for peaceful and legal solutions to any tensions between states.

We urge all parties to show maximum restraint. We ask that the United Nations Secretary-General, the European Union, and the government of Japan, as well as countries in the region that have stepped in the past to foster peace, to intervene to prevent the outbreak of war and deepening human rights and humanitarian crisis.


Isa Saharkhiz, Journalist

Mehrangiz Kar, Human Rights Lawyer and Women’s Rights Defender

Zia Nabavi, Student Activist

Mahdiye Golrou, Women’s Rights Activist

Emad Bahavar, Political Activist

Ali Akbar Mousavi, Former member of Iran’s Parliament and Internet Freedom Advocate

Guissou Jahangiri, Women’s Rights Defender and Executive Director at the International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH)

Mohammad Oliyafard, Human Rights Lawyer

Maedeh Soltani, Human Rights Defender

Majid Dori, Civic Activist

Hadi Ghaemi, Executive Director of the Center for Human Rights in Iran

Sussan Tahmasebi, Women’s Rights Defender and Executive Director at FEMENA

Fatemeh Haghighatjoo, Nonviolence Initiative for Democracy

Alieh Mottalebzadeh, Women’s Rights Defender and Journalist

Jinous Sobhani, Human Rights, Women’s Rights, and Children’s Rights Activist

Thomas Hughes, Executive Director at ARTICLE 19

Firuzeh Mahmoudi, Executive Director at United for Iran

Masoud Bastani, Journalist

Nahid Mirhaj, Women’s Rights Defender

Amin Ahmadian, Member of the Central Committee of Advar-e Takim-e Vahdat

Niki Akhavan, Associate Professor at the Catholic University of America

Leila Alikarami, Human Rights Lawyer and Women’s Rights Defender

Mahsa Alimardani, Technology and Human Rights Researcher ARTICLE 19

Mehdi Aminzadeh, Human Rights Researcher

Leila Asadi, Women’s Rights Defender and PhD Candidate in Justice Studies

Zeinab Asgharpour, Political Activist and member of the Central Committee of Advar-e Takim-e Vahdat

Kamran Ashtary, Executive Director at Arseh Sevom

Kaveh Azarhoosh, Senior Researcher at Small Media

Arash Azizi, Writer and Scholar PhD Candidate at New York University

Maryam Bahrman, Women’s Rights Defender

Narges Bajoghli, Scholar, Assistant Professor at SAIS, Johns Hopkins University

Rudi Bakhtiar, Journalist

Fereidoon Bashar, Executive Director at ASL19

Amir Bayani, Head of MENA Program at ARTICLE 19

Farangis Bayat, Women’s Rights Defender and Researcher

Farhad Davoodi, Translator and Writer

Parastoo Dokouhaki, Women’s Rights Defender

Arefe Elyasi, Women’s Rights Defender

Reza Fani Yazdi, Human Rights Activist

Nima Fatemi, Researcher and Founding Director of Kandoo

Roja Fazaeli, Professor at Trinity College, Dublin

Alireza Firoozi, Former Student Activist

Saghi Ghahraman, Iranian Queer Organization (IRQO)

Reza Ghazinouri, Human Rights Activist

Sourena Hashemi, Project Coordinator at Net Freedom Pioneers

Mo Hosseini, MENA Program Officer at ARTICLE 19

Sirous Hosseinifar, Artist

Maryam Hosseinkhah, Journalist

Mahboube Hosseinzadeh, Women’s Rights Defender

Mehri Jafari, Lawyer and Human Rights Activist

Mahdieh Javid, Human Rights Attorney

Sepideh Jodeyri, Poet and Women’s Rights Defender

Hadi KahalZadeh, Researcher on Public Policy at Brandeis University

Parvin Kahzadi, Journalist and Civic Activist

Parisa Kakaee, Women’s and Children’s Rights Activist

Mina Keshavarz, Film Director

Nooshin Keshavarznia, Women’s Rights Activist

Azam Khatam, Researcher and University Professor

Mostafa Khosravi, Director of Communications at Arseh Sevom

Nasim Khosravi Moghaddam, Writer and Theatre Director

Masoud Ladani, Meli-Mazhabi Activist

Mahtam Mahmoudi, Women’s Rights Defender

Feri Malek-Madani, Women’s Rights Activist

James Marchant, Research Manager at Small Media

Sara Masoumi, Journalist

Maryam Mazrooei, War Photographer and Journalist

Roozbeh MirEbrahimi, Journalist and Researcher

Ziba Mir-Hosseini, Researcher

Manijeh Moazen, Journalist

Azin Mohajerin, Civic Activist and Researcher

Sohrab Mokhtari, Writer and Translator

Zahra Moshtagh, Journalist

Laleh Mostofi, Film Director

Mani Mostofi, Senior Human Rights Advisor at United for Iran

Sarvenaz Mostofi, Artist

Negar Mottahdeh, Professor

Mojtaba Najafi, Researcher

Gissou Nia, Human Rights Lawyer

Shahriar Paknia, Researcher and University Professor

Zeinab Peyghambarzadeh, Gender Equality Activist

Mohammad Pourabdollah, Political Activist

Azadeh Pourzand, Executive Director at Siamak Pourzand Foundation

Somaye Qodousi, Civic Researcher

Hossein Raessi, Human Rights Lawyer and Professor at Law

Keyvan Rafie, Director at Human Rights Activists in Iran

Neelam Raina, Associate Professor at Middlesex University

Niloofar Rajaeifar, Actress

Somayeh Rashidi, Women’s Rights Defender

Negar Razavi, Scholar and Visiting Assistant Professor in Anthropology at William and Mary

Sabra Rezai, Women’s Rights Activist

Afsaneh Rigot, MENA Officer ARTICLE 19

Simin Rouzgard, Human Rights Activist

Touraj Saberivand, Social Activist

Setareh Sabety, Journalist

Aida Sadat, Human and Women’s Rights Activist

Sima Saeedi, Former Journalist

Mousa Saket, Political and Civic Activist and member of Advar Tahkim Vahdat

Afsaneh Salari, Filmmaker

Faraz Sanei, Human Rights Lawyer

Rod Sanjabi, Human Rights Lawyer

Nasim Sarabandi, Women’s Rights Defender

Daisy Schmitt, Women’s Rights Programme Officer at FIDH

Kevin Schumacher, Human Rights Defender

Mahdis Sdeghipouya, Women’s Rights Defender and Gender Researcher

Afshin Shahi, Senior Lecturer at the University of Bradford

Sima Shakhsari, Professor at the University of Minnesota

Mansoureh Shoajee, Researcher and Women’s Rights Activist

Amir Soltania, Author, Zahra’s Paradise

Bita Tahbaz, Women’s Rights Activist

Maziar Tataei, Attorney at Law

Nayereh Tohidi, Professor and Director of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies at California State University, Northridge

Soheila Vahdati, Independent Scholar

Adrienne van Heteren, Director at Small Media

Kyra Wigard, Legal Fellow at Armanshahr and OPENASIA

Mitra Zargar, Sociologist and Human Rights Advocate

Parvin Zarrabi, Women’s Rights, Peace, and Environmental Activist

Reprinted, with permission, from Center for Human Rights in Iran

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Articles by guest writers.



  1. I for one totally agree with this sensate call.

  2. We need to stay the f*ck OUT of Iran!
    I’m sick to death of these dam WARS we are constantly starting for PROFIT!

    Iran unlike Grenada, Iraq, Libya & Yemen can fight back, it can hurt us badly. Iran is a modern advanced country with an modern, well equiped, effective military & powerful allies, we need to stay the f*ck OUT of Iran & MIND OUR OWN DAM BUSINESS.

    We have problems here that need to be addressed like HEALTH CARE FOR ALL, affordable housing, a REAL education system that gives ALL our students a good education not just those in RICH SCHOOL DISTRICTS, we must STOP GROWING especially POPULATION GROWTH & END immigration & STOP putting immigrant children in CAGES & STOP feeding them frozen, uncooked meals & having them sleep on a cold, hard, concrete floor, that’s BARBARIC!.
    We have REAL PROBLEMS here at home that have been ignored for far too long, NO MORE DAM WARS FOR PROFIT!

  3. Dear all,


    I am one of the 225 civility activists (from inside and outside Iran) who last week signed another statement seeking peace with Iran.

    I am also a persecuted Iranian, having to live in exile–in the U.S. — see my mini-bio’s link below.

    I am sad to say that I am glad NOT to have signed this “human rights” statement (signed by 116 well-meaning fellow human right and peace activists–below),
    because it does not say anything about the fact that it was the war-criminal Trump administration (instigated by Israel and Saudi Arabia) that illegally abrogated the Iran Nuclear Deal–and brought back war-mongering savage sanctions.

    And when it comes to talking about sanctions, this statement refers (after MANY paragraphs) to “many Iran-based human rights defenders” who have expressed concerns about such sanctions…, rather than condemning such an economic war against the people of Iran.

    I think it is a tragedy that “human rights” is being politicized, AGAIN, by “colonial” forces, now with the help (unintentional–I hope) of this UNBALANCED (as to who is to blame) statement.

    I think “colonialized human rights,” including “colonial feminism” (i.e., politicization of basic rights issues) only deepens (for obvious reasons) the harm that the victims of rights abuse in Iran suffer.


    Moji Agha (Mojtaba Aghamohammadi)
    Boulder, Colorado, U.S.
    (520) 325-3545
    moji.agha [ at ] gmail
    For my mini-bio, please google my name.

  4. What an utter and complete expression of moral cowardice by these patheic self-proclaimed advocates of the Rights of Man!

    Where is the strong moral stand, the unequivocal condemnation, and the streneous objection to the siege war of choice of the United States against Islamic Republic of Iran?

    The barbaric Mongols are outside the walls of the city of Neishapour and they are calling for restraint by both sides?

    Put another way, what a bunch of Shah Sulatn Husseins are these denizens of this so-called Centre for Human Rights in Iran are!

    Have you no shame?

    If you cannot stand up to malignant power of the United States, why are you here?

    Shame, shame, shame.

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