Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

These are some of the civil society leaders interviewed in the report. From left to right, their names are: Fakhrossadat Mohtashamipour, activist and wife of political prisoner; Reza Khandan, novelist, board member of Iranian Writers' Association; Pegah Ahangarani, actress; Shahram Mokri, filmmaker; Farideh Gheirat, Lawyer. (Images: International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran)

Voices from Iran Urge: Don't Let Nuclear Negotiations Fail

With international deal looming, Iranian civil society representatives warn that failure of diplomacy would bring catastrophic consequences

Sarah Lazare

A new report on "the view from Iran" finds that representatives of the country's civil society unequivocally support a nuclear agreement with world powers, fervently hope for relief from years of sanctions and isolation, and fear that the disintegration of international diplomacy would bring devastating consequences—and potentially war.

"If we reach an agreement... we can demand our rights as human beings."
—Mahmoud Dolatabadi, author

Entitled High Hopes, Tempered Expectations, the report was released Monday by the New York-based International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran and draws on in-depth interviews with civil society leaders, including journalists, scholars, lawyers, writers, artists, family members of political prisoners, and former members of parliament.

Released just days ahead of the global agreement's June 30 deadline, which Iranian and western negotiators say they are willing to extend in order to seal a final deal, the report issues a stark warning to the world.

"All of the respondents felt failure of the negotiations would be catastrophic for Iranian society, leading to greater economic hardship, increased repression and further loss of political and cultural freedoms, the weakening of President Rouhani and moderate forces in Iran, and an increased chance of a military confrontation," states the study.


We Interrupt This Article with an Urgent Message!

Common Dreams is a not-for-profit news service. All of our content is free to you - no subscriptions; no ads. We are funded by donations from our readers.

Our critical Mid-Year fundraiser is going very slowly - only 993 readers have contributed so far. We must meet our goal before we can end this fundraising campaign and get back to focusing on what we do best.
If you support Common Dreams and you want us to survive, we need you now.
Please make a tax-deductible gift to our Mid-Year Fundraiser now!

"Social hopelessness would increase drastically," an unnamed journalist and former political prisoner told researchers. "The atmosphere for cultural activities and journalism would become tremendously more difficult... [A] continuation of sanctions would place the country in a defensive mode...[and] the domestic security organs would increasingly pressure the media and journalists in order to silence any voices of dissent."

Civil society and social movement organizations across the globe, including the United States, have urged a diplomatic route rather than a path to war. Notably, the report finds that, among Iranian civil society representatives interviewed, support for a diplomatic agreement is unanimous—even among those critical of the government and skeptical that benefits will be fairly distributed.

For example, 71 percent of respondents said they believe a deal would bring economic benefits, but one-fifth of those respondents said that these benefits would not reach ordinary Iranians. Twenty-five percent of respondents, likewise, said such economic gains would only go to the wealthy.

"The highest cost imposed by sanctions is paid by the people, particularly the low-income and vulnerable groups."
—Fakhrossadat Mohtashamipour, activist

Furthermore, 61 percent of people surveyed said they believe a settlement "should facilitate progress toward greater rights and liberties." But 36 percent said "Rouhani did not have the ability to achieve progress in these areas or directly questioned Rouhani’s willingness to push forward with meaningful changes in the state of basic rights and freedoms in Iran."

But every single person interviewed said that, however imperfect an agreement, the diplomatic route is far preferable to the alternative. The ongoing international sanctions regime is already politically, culturally, and economically devastating to ordinary Iranians, they warned, and the failure of the talks would almost certainly be catastrophic.

"For a number of years, Iran's international isolation and all the excuses for putting pressure on our country, particularly the sanctions, have destroyed the Iranian people's psychological security, and have left them preoccupied, and of course, many people have suffered direct or indirect loss," said Fakhrossadat Mohtashamipour, described in the report as a civil activist and wife of political prisoner Mostafa Tajzadeh. "The highest cost imposed by sanctions is paid by the people, particularly the low-income and vulnerable groups."

Amid fears of catastrophe, and skepticism about a quick fix to domestic problems, the report states that "a palpable sense of hope runs though these interviews."

"If we reach an agreement... we can demand our rights as human beings," said author Mahmoud Dolatabadi. "But if there is not resolution, I can't tell what may happen. At any rate, I am hopeful and I wish for an agreement."

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

... We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

'Congress Must Act': Bernie Sanders Demands End of Filibuster to Codify Abortion Rights

"We must pass legislation that codifies Roe v. Wade as the law of the land in this country. And if there aren't 60 votes to do it, and there are not, we must reform the filibuster to pass it with 50 votes."

Jon Queally ·

Human Rights Defenders Warn Biden Border Policy 'Quickly Transforming Into Trump 2.0'

Like his predecessor, President Joe Biden now being accused of "using racist, xenophobic tropes about immigrants to weaponize Covid-19 against migrants and asylum-seekers."

Jon Queally ·

'Bombshell': Israeli Spyware Used to Hack iPhones of US State Department Officials

Calling the Israel-based spyware maker NSO Group an "in-plain-sight national security threat," one expert warned that "a multi-agency investigation is immediately needed."

Jessica Corbett ·

US Progressive Caucus Hails Honduran Election as Chance for 'New Chapter' in Relations

"We encourage the Biden administration to use this opportunity to make a clean break with previous presidential administrations, which worked to ensure that the 2009 coup d'état succeeded."

Brett Wilkins ·

'The Facts of This Case Are So Egregious': Parents of Michigan School Shooter Charged in Killings

"There were a lot of things that could have been so simple to prevent," the Oakland County prosecutor said of the mother and father now being sought by law enforcement.

Kenny Stancil ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.

Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo