Civil Society will go Underground
roozonline / Fereshteh Ghazi

The Majlis, Iran’s parliament, is in the process of approving a bill that according to civil activists aims at eliminating independent civil institutions and replacing them with government organization. According to the provisions of this bill not only are individuals who plan to establish non-governmental or civil organizations required to be fully cleared and approved by the Ministry of Intelligence and supervisory committees, but even organizations that already have operational licenses and have been active need to reapply for new permits. If the latter are not approved, the supreme supervisory committee will annul their current permits and ban their activities.

Arseh Sevom (which in Persian means Third Sphere standing for civil society) organization writes that the goal of this mechanism is to annul non-governmental organizations, something that until now has been in the purview of the judiciary but which made the intervention of the security apparatus difficult. The absolute authority over civil society institutions according to the bill lies with the supreme supervisory committee that will make decisions on the creation, dissolution and supervision of the activities of NGOs. The composition of the body includes five government representatives, a representative from each of the following: the judiciary, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Endowment Affairs Organization, the Basij, and the Islamic Propagation Organization.

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