February 28, 2024

Elahe Sharifpour-Hicks has been defending human rights for more than two decades. She was the Iran researcher for Human Rights Watch from 1994 to 2001 and is currently the manager of Human Rights and Planning at New York.
On the tenth anniversary of the Human Rights Activists in Iran (HRA), Sharifpour-Hicks tells Peace Mark Monthly: “The most positive feature of HRA is distancing itself from politics.” And regarding the permanence of HRA, she adds: “The only thing that makes such an activism possible and permanent is to show devotion, and that is exactly what the members of HRA have shown.”
How would you describe HRA, and if it is possible to highlight one positive feature of it, what would that be in your opinion?
The work of all the groups that have been established in the past with the purpose of defending, promoting, and advancing human rights in Iran is commendable. Taking into consideration the risks and dangers of gathering information in Iran and considering the constraints and difficulties that these groups face aboard, their activism makes a non-stop around-the-clock effort that is of high importance, considering the human rights situation in Iran.
Regarding the most positive feature of HRA, I can mention that it has distanced itself from politics. When dealing with human rights issues, staying away from politics is very important. Considering that, in a country such as Iran that lacks political parties and that constrains and even makes political activism impossible, there is a very fine line formed and many would intentionally or unintentionally cross the line and confuse politics and human rights. There is a concern that any of us having our own political beliefs could bring them to our human rights work. This is a crucial responsibility, and I am certain that you and your colleagues have always taken it into consideration, because I believe HRA has always stayed away from politics.