United for Iran
Because of Iran's current political climate and justice system, many Iranian civil society organizations have been pressured to operate outside of Iran. United for Iran is a nonprofit organization formed as a result of a grassroots movement of Iranian-American human rights organizers. They work on promoting activist resilience and civil liberties in Iran and connecting human rights organizers in Iran with the diaspora. To these ends, United for Iran empowers a global network of experts, developers, and activists working on human rights and political freedom in Iran. They involve volunteers and consultants and crowdfund to support projects. United for Iran works on building technological tools to raise public awareness and galvanize campaigns in Iran and solidarity internationally. They partnered with the Small Media Foundation, a London-based action lab, to develop Iran Prison Atlas - an interactive web portal sharing information about unjust imprisonment and persecution of political prisoners and bad conditions in Iranian prisons. The accessible visual tool helps United for Iran in their campaigns to raise public awareness and pressure the Islamic Republic of Iran to spare lives, release prisoners and stop persecution. United for Iran uses technology to combat censorship and establish secure solutions for citizen engagement and political organizers in Iran. They also launched IranCubator, the first civic tech-focused startup incubator in Iran, to enhance civic engagement and government transparency through accessible phone applications.
Theory of Change
Connecting Iranian civil society organizers internationally to tech solutions and resources can advance human rights and freedoms, increase the capacity of civil society, and contribute to building international solidarity.
The Iran Prison Atlas project is a real-time tool for documenting and disseminating testimonies of violations in judicial processes and treatment of political prisoners in Iran. Since its inception, Iran Prison Atlas has been overseen and updated by former political prisoners, utilizing their experience and contacts. United for Iran analyses and translates testimonies to be accessible in Persian and English. They then publish aggregated information on political prisoners, the judges who convict them and prisons that hold them and identify patterns across types of mistreatment, race, religion, gender, activity persecuted for, and charges of convicted individuals. United for Iran’s Safe Activism project aims to reduce the risks and arrests of Iranian activists. This includes working with former Iranian activists to identify tactics for resilient resistance and options for avoiding arrest under Islamic Republic rule. United for Iran then identifies secure ways to disseminate and deliver information to movements in Iran. Recognizing that 40 million Iranians use smartphones, IranCubator matches Iranian civil society activists and developers/programmers to leverage and build their capacity. IranCubator produced applications that directly empower Iranian citizens to connect, organize, share and disseminate critical information. Apps range from documenting and reporting on domestic abuse, keeping Iranian voters informed and giving them an easy to use and practical platform to share their voice.
Since its founding, United for Iran has involved more than 250,000 people from 110 cities internationally participate in sponsored actions and events. The United for Iran awareness campaigns to release political prisoners and stop persecution/censorship have put pressure on the Islamic Republic of Iran. Their Safe Activism video has been viewed over 50,000 times, and more than 3,000 persons in Iran downloaded the booklet. The Iran Prison Atlas has over 2,000 testimonials in its records of unjust judicial violations of Iranian citizens. Over 6,000 Iranian judges, prisoners, and convicted Iranian dissidents have participated in this project. Advocacy groups, governments, and the United Nations have shared and used the archive of records. The IranCubator 1.0 contest has supported the production of a dozen apps. Through a rigorous selection process, ten mobile apps have completed the incubation. The IranCubator first-round app has been downloaded over 700,000 times. Apps were used 3,000,000 times for 250,000 hours. In 2020, United for Iran launched the second round of the project – IranCubator 2.0.