Caught in a web of repression: Iran’s human rights defenders under attack

Iran is waging a ruthless crackdown against people who stand up to injustice and defend human rights. The country’s courageous human rights defenders have come under suffocating levels of repression at the hands of Iran’s judicial and security apparatus.

Scores of human rights defenders, including anti-death penalty campaigners, women’s rights activists, trade unionists, minority rights activists, human rights lawyers, and activists seeking truth, justice, and reparations for the mass extrajudicial executions and enforced disappearances of the 1980s are facing lengthy prison sentences in connection with their peaceful activities, and many others are being subjected to surveillance, interrogations and drawn out trials. Those who defend human rights are often labelled “foreign agents” and “traitors” by state media, and prosecuted and jailed by the authorities on bogus “national security” charges.

The Iranian authorities must release immediately and unconditionally all human rights defenders imprisoned solely for peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly, and end the misuse of the justice system to silence activists.

Join Amnesty International’s campaign in support of Iran’s brave human rights defenders who have risked their life and liberty to help others.


The criminalization of human rights defenders in Iran takes place against the backdrop of ongoing smear campaigns against them. The authorities routinely equate the defence of human rights to “espionage” and “incitement to sedition”.

Women who oppose compulsory veiling (hijab) have also been subject to severe smear campaigns on state media. State media often use derogatory terms such as “sluts”, “deviant” and “corrupt” to demean and degrade these women.

Smear campaigns against human rights defenders are not only intended to discredit their work in the eyes of the public but also ferment an attitude of mistrust, and even hostility, toward human rights defenders on the part of the media and the rest of society.

Comments are closed.