The Iran Human Rights Documentation Center (IHRDC)
is a registered non-profit organization
Nonprofit organization is neither a legal nor technical definition but generally refers to an organization that uses surplus revenues to achieve its goals, rather than distributing them as profit or dividends...
based in New Haven, Connecticut
New Haven is the second-largest city in Connecticut and the sixth-largest in New England. According to the 2010 Census, New Haven's population increased by 5.0% between 2000 and 2010, a rate higher than that of the State of Connecticut, and higher than that of the state's five largest cities, and...
. HRDC was founded in 2004 by a group of human rights
Human rights are "commonly understood as inalienable fundamental rights to which a person is inherently entitled simply because she or he is a human being." Human rights are thus conceived as universal and egalitarian . These rights may exist as natural rights or as legal rights, in both national...
scholars, activists, and historians to document the patterns of human rights abuse in Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...
and to promote accountability, a culture of human rights, and the rule of law in Iran. Board members include prominent American legal scholars such as Professors Owen Fiss and John Simon (Yale University
Yale University is a private, Ivy League university located in New Haven, Connecticut, United States. Founded in 1701 in the Colony of Connecticut, the university is the third-oldest institution of higher education in the United States...
), Lawrence Douglas
Lawrence Douglas is the James J. Grosfeld Professor of Law, Jurisprudence and Social Thought at Amherst College. He received his A.B. in 1982 from Brown University, M.A. in 1986 from Columbia University, and J.D. in 1989 from Yale Law School. In 2005 he became honorary A.M. at Amherst College...
Amherst College is a private liberal arts college located in Amherst, Massachusetts, United States. Amherst is an exclusively undergraduate four-year institution and enrolled 1,744 students in the fall of 2009...
), and Laura Dickenson (Arizona State University
Arizona State University is a public research university located in the Phoenix Metropolitan Area of the State of Arizona...
), and prominent Iranian-American author Roya Hakakian
Roya Hakakian is an Iranian-American poet, journalist and writer living in the United States. A lauded Persian poet turned television producer with programs like 60 Minutes, Roya became well known for her memoir, Journey from the Land of No in 2004. Her essays on Iranian issues appear in the New...
. Renee C. Redman, Esq. is currently the group’s executive director.
Mission and activities
The overall mission of the Center is fourfold.
First, to establish a comprehensive and objective historical record of the human rights situation in Iran since the 1979 revolution, and on the basis of that record, establish responsibility for patterns of human rights abuses.
Second, to make the record available in an archive that is accessible to the public for research and educational purposes.
Third, to promote accountability, respect for human rights and the rule of law in Iran.
Fourth, to encourage an informed dialogue on the human rights situation in Iran among scholars and the general public in Iran and abroad.
The US State Department
The United States Department of State , is the United States federal executive department responsible for international relations of the United States, equivalent to the foreign ministries of other countries...
has been the group’s "main source of funds," providing US$3 million since the group's founding. Following the disputed 2009 presidential elections
Iran's tenth presidential election was held on 12 June 2009, with incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad running against three challengers. The next morning the Islamic Republic News Agency, Iran's official news agency, announced that with two-thirds of the votes counted, Ahmadinejad had won the election...
in Iran the government of Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...
also granted it money. The Center is also supported by private foundations and individual donors.
Human rights investigation
IHRDC currently has two basic programs: (1) a human rights investigation, analysis and reporting program, and (2) a large document database, the Aadel
Collection, that is available to persons in Iran and worldwide.
Collection is a database of documents, photographs and videos relating to the human rights situation in Iran since 1979. It is particularly valuable for local Iranian human rights advocates to be able to access information on the human rights situation that is suppressed by the Iranian government. The database empowers researchers inside Iran to conduct their own investigations and provides support for human rights advocacy.
The Collection includes documentary evidence, texts of Iranian and international laws, and lengthy written and video witness statements obtained in interviews by IHRDC staff lawyers. The video statements are in Persian
Persian is an Iranian language within the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European languages. It is primarily spoken in Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and countries which historically came under Persian influence...
and subtitled in English, and the written statements are published in English and Persian. The written documents in the database are searchable through their entire texts, or through keywords and dates where full-text searchability is not available.
The Center’s human rights reports, published in English and Persian, are the result of extensive primary research including interviews of witnesses located world-wide, and collection of other evidence. They preserve testimony and knowledge regarding the regime’s human rights record. They also address the needs of policy-makers and the world to know about human rights violations perpetrated by the Iranian government against civil society.
Response from the Islamic Republic of Iran
IHRDC has been named on a list of 60 organizations designated as subversive by the Iranian Interior Ministry. In the fall of 2009, the Center was again condemned by Kayhan
Kayhan is an influential newspaper in Iran. Directly under the supervision of the Office of the Supreme Leader, it is regarded to be "the most conservative Iranian newspaper."...
, a conservative Iranian newspaper.
The IHRDC has published fourteen in-depth reports in English and Persian to date: