About this project
Sketches of Iran: A Glimpse from the Front Lines of Human Rights brings together the personal stories of forty remarkable Iranians from all walks of life, whose common thread is their passion and struggle for basic human rights in the country they grew up in.
Their inspiring stories are accompanied by forty beautiful full-page illustrations, editorial cartoons about human rights by seven prominent Iranian cartoonists.
*From the simple wish of imprisoned lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh’s four-year-old son to the mounting concerns of imprisoned student activist Bahareh Hedayat, these stories together draw a picture of the human face of this ongoing struggle.*
Sketches of Iran features 40 personal essays, including pieces from:
* The daughter of Christian pastor Hossein Soodmand, who was executed for his conversion to Christianity
* A Baha’i student who achieved her dream of education even though Baha’is are forbidden from studying in Iran
* The daughter of political opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi, who has been under house arrest for nearly two years without charges
* A journalist who interviewed the Ayatollah before the Revolution and who now continues her reformist writing from outside Iran
* The father of Kurdish student Sane Jaleh, who was killed during a public protest when security forces fired on protestors
* and 40 full-page editorial cartoons, including 12 portraits of political prisoners
Please contribute to this participatory project and help get these voices heard!
*The voices in this book highlight aspects of Iranians’ resilience and their willingness to work to change their society for the better, voices that often go unheard.*
Such a diverse group of Iranians—from Iran’s Nobel laureate to a former cross-border courier—collected together in one book is unprecedented. The forty contributors are young and old, men and women, activists, students, lawyers, actors, researchers, comedians, and wives and daughters and husbands and sons of prisoners of conscience living in Iran.
Many have left Iran because of political persecution and censorship. In this book, they are offering their most personal stories.
All of these stories and cartoons present a vibrant and determined society of individuals that need to be heard. Sketches of Iran tells these stories in Persian and English, with visually striking cartoons illustrating the salient issues of Iran's human rights crisis.
We have spent a year working on this book, gathering the stories and the cartoons, meticulously translating, vigorously editing, and artfully designing these books. But we need your help to get them printed. We are trying to print this book in a beautiful coffee-table bilingual Persian-English edition, and also a smaller softcover English-language edition, so these stories can reach as many people as possible.
Your contribution will help us:
1) Print a first run of 1000 copies, half as bilingual coffee-table books, and half as English-only softcover books
2) Publicize the book and get it into the hands of policymakers, human rights advocates, UN officials, and others who can make a difference in the human rights situation in Iran and in the lives of these contributors and others like them
Thank you for your support and for joining this community of voices. Please help us spread the word.
"A gem of a book revealing the agony of contemporary Iran and also proving once again that humor, especially cartoons, can prove to be deadly serious."
Ervand Abrahamian distinguished scholar of Middle Eastern history and author of Iran Between Two Revolutions
"This book, as a collection of cartoons by Iranian artists with human rights themes, is the first of its kind. It is an unprecedented endeavor and I hope that it will pave the way for future infusions of arts and human rights concerns."
Shirin Ebadi 2003 Nobel Peace laureate
"I find . . . Sketches of Iran to be quite distinctive and important. . . . These contributions represent diverse voices, inspirational to everyone regardless of geographical and cultural differences. With such breadth and depth, I believe this publication to be a singular and crucial collection."
Shirin Neshat internationally acclaimed Iranian artist, photographer, and filmmaker
Sketches of Iran is being published by the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, an independent non-profit, non-partisan organization with a focus on improving the human rights situation in Iran. Headquartered in New York, its activities are carried out in the United States, Europe, and Latin America. The organization’s staff is comprised of professionals with backgrounds in human rights documentation, advocacy, and journalism.
The Campaign’s activities encompass research and documentation, published in the form of press releases, reports, and books; advocacy in international forums, media, and civil society; and capacity building for the Iranian human rights community. The Campaign’s various products are published in English and Persian.
For more information about the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, please visit www.iranhumanrights.org.
Risks and challenges
As with any book, there are inherent risks and challenges. We've gotten through the writing, editing, and designing stages, and we've even found a printer we like. But nothing is without risks. At this stage, there are two steps left that might incur challenges.
Printing: We have shopped around with different printers to find one that has both the quality we need and the pricing we can afford. We have just received the proofs, and the quality is excellent. The main challenge now has to do with printing costs, which is where your help comes in. As the quantity we order goes up, the price per unit goes down, making the book easier to distribute and expanding its reach. If we fail to raise the needed funds, we will only be able to print a very limited run, and the reach of this book will be crippled.
Packaging and shipping: We are a small and dedicated team of human rights professionals with experience in publishing. While we plan to do all of the packaging and shipping ourselves, if there is a sudden catastrophe in Iran (like a military strike, or a large-scale protest), our first priority will be to the human rights community, and we may be forced to delay our packaging and shipping of the rewards. Such an event, however, is not highly likely.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
YES! We are a registered 501(c)3 non-profit organization…every dollar raised through Kickstarter will go directly into helping print this book. Your donation is tax deductible, either in whole or in part (the “in part” refers to those donations that receive material rewards; according to the tax code we have to deduct the cost of the goods we send, and the rest is tax deductible). Thank you again for your support!
It’s a valid question, and I know other projects are run that way. The difference with this book is that donating to the printing costs of this book is more than purchasing a product, it’s supporting a cause: namely, shedding light on the serious human rights violations in Iran and supporting the brave individuals who continue to struggle for their rights in Iran, at great personal cost to themselves and their families. Since this is a full-color, high-quality print, the printing costs are very high. This Kickstarter project will only cover some of the printing costs of the first run, which will be 1000 copies. We’re hoping to cover some of the printing costs through Kickstarter because we want to be able to sell the book for as low a price as possible so that it will have as wide a readership as possible. Our main goal is to make the voices in this book heard, so keeping the price low is important. We also have to take into account that we’ll be giving away a fair number of copies free to high-level policy makers, government and UN officials and other key people who have the potential to influence policy, in the hopes that this book will help to build international support for human rights in Iran.
Yes. The Campaign has paid for all of the labor involved, which has included doing all of the research, collecting all of the commentaries (including 16 of them from families of detainees in Iran), editing both the English and Persian versions, translating to English and Farsi, designing and laying out the book, and covering the costs of producing a promotional video for the book. While the commentaries were written for free, the Campaign also paid the cartoonists, most of them refugees living in different countries, as a way of supporting them. We’ve funded the trial prints while we’ve searched for a printer, and we’re also covering the book launching costs as well. The Kickstarter funds will only cover about 60% of the printing costs for this book, so the Campaign will also be funding the remaining 40% of the printing costs.
We approached a number of publishing houses but their process takes a lot of time, often up to one year, whereas the stories in this book need to be heard much sooner. For example, one of the contributors was taken to prison shortly after sending us her piece—so we want to get this book published and distributed as quickly as possible to people who have the ability to influence policy and advance human rights in Iran, including UN officials, especially members of the Human Rights Council, government officials and diplomats throughout the world who work on Iran, and international media journalists who can publicize and raise awareness of human rights violations in Iran. Also, many of the publishing houses we spoke to were reluctant to publish a bilingual book, which was important to us; we felt it was critical that the courage and resiliency on display in this book reach Iranian human rights defenders, and not just the English-speaking world.
We are planning to make the cartoons and commentaries of this project available for free online in a few months. We’re in the process of developing this and finding an accessible platform that will allow the audience to easily and fully explore different parts of the book. The programming costs for this will need to be covered, but we hope to find a donor who will fully support the online project.
No, there was a mix of volunteer and paid work. All the commentators volunteered their pieces, but the cartoonists were paid (though at a much lower rate than they would normally charge because of the nature of the book). All of the research, editing, translating, design and layout was done by employees of the Campaign.
We plan to give the book to people who have the ability to influence policy and advance human rights in Iran. This includes UN officials, especially members of the Human Rights Council, government officials and diplomats throughout the world who work on Iran, and international media journalists who can publicize and raise awareness of human rights violations in Iran. We will use this book as an advocacy tool in our meetings with policymakers, so that they understand the full extent of the human rights violations in Iran and see that there is a community of human rights defenders in Iran in great need of support. In addition to the books we plan to give at no cost, we also want to make the rest of the books available to the public (especially people interested in Iran, such as students and scholars) at an affordable price—i.e., a fraction of the $150 that a book like this would normally cost.
In addition to reaching the people who can influence policy on human rights in Iran, we also hope this book will broaden the audience for Iranian human rights issues and get people interested who might not otherwise know about the state of human rights in Iran—or the brave individuals there who continue to struggle for their rights. We’re hoping to reach beyond the traditional human rights community with this book, bringing in art and literature and first-hand personal accounts to reach—and touch—people who might not read traditional human rights reports. We particularly felt that the cartoons visually conveyed in a powerful, visceral way the human suffering in Iran, providing a non-traditional way to connect people with what is actually taking place on the ground in Iran right now. So, in a nutshell, we’re hoping to influence policy and advance support for human rights in Iran, and also to widen the audience—and support—for human rights in Iran.
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