UNLOCK IRAN: New Digital Platform to Raise Awareness of Human Rights Violations in Iran

Innovative Technology Connects Facebook Users to Iranian "Prisoners of Rights"

Mar 04, 2014, 12:00 ET from Iran Human Rights Documentation Center

NEW YORK, March 4, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Yesterday, the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center (IHRDC) launched UNLOCK IRAN, a unique platform that gives participants a digital view of what their lives would be like if jailed in Iran. The initiative calls on the international community to elevate the discussion of human rights issues in Iran at a time of critical reengagement with the Iranian government.

Unlock Iran allows users to view the site through the lens of their own Facebook accounts and connects them to individuals currently in jail in Iran on account of their lifestyles, beliefs or professions (journalists, lawyers, pastors, artists, activists, feminists etc.) known as "prisoners of rights." The project raises awareness about human rights violations in Iran and engages users to take action via petition and Twitter/Facebook to call on world leaders to make human rights a priority issue during ongoing talks with the Iranian government. The initiative is timed to coincide with the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva this month.

"Prisoners of rights" highlighted in the campaign include student Omid Kokabee and Pastor Saeed Abedini. Abedini, a US citizen and Christian pastor imprisoned in Iran since September 2012, was recently highlighted by President Obama at the National Prayer Breakfast in reference to the importance of religious freedom. Kokabee, a physicist who had been studying at the University of Texas at Austin, was arrested on unsubstantiated charges while visiting his family in Iran.

With chronic human rights abuses in Iran (624 executions in 2013, 75+ executions to date this year, and 800+ prisoners of rights in jail), IHRDC is the only organization taking this unique digital approach to exposing the issue. And with Twitter/Facebook banned in Iran, but used openly by government officials, Unlock Iran is hoping to make a loud digital statement in support of prisoners of rights.

"Unlock Iran brings the harsh reality of unwarranted imprisonment in Iran directly in front of the user. By digitally engaging on an international scale, we are demanding that these prisoners be seen and their voices – for now unjustly silenced – be heard again," said Gissou Nia, Executive Director of IHRDC and spokeswoman for Unlock Iran.

Yesterday's launch follows significant activity last month, when Unlock Iran and Inside Out Group Action—started by famed TED prize winner and street artist JR—carried out an art activation featuring the portraits of 13 prisoners of rights (two of whom were executed at the end of January) at the UN headquarters in New York City.

For more information, please visit www.UnlockIran.org, follow @UnlockIran on Twitter and Instagram, and visit #UnlockIran's Facebook page.

About IHRDC:  Founded in 2004 by human rights scholars and lawyers, the IHRDC is a non-partisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to reporting and documenting human rights abuses inside the Islamic Republic of Iran. Led by Executive Director Gissou Nia, the Center promotes accountability, respect for human rights and the rule of law in Iran and encourages an informed dialogue on the human rights situation in Iran among scholars and the general public in Iran and abroad. For more information, please visit www.iranhrdc.org.


SOURCE Iran Human Rights Documentation Center