human rights

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Hundreds Join Artist JR to Create a Collaborative Portrait in Protest of Iran’s Restrictions of Women

December 8, 2022

Grace Ebert

An aerial photo of people forming the hair of a woman's silhouette on the ground

“Baraye Nika Shakarami” for #EyesonIran (December 4, 2022), interactive installation at Four Freedoms Park, cotton canvas and more than 300 participants. All images © JR, shared with permission

In less than a week, the U.N. will decide whether to bar Iran from the Commission on the Status of Women following the death of Mahsa Jina Amini, who was arrested by the nation’s “morality police” for not covering her hair properly and later died in custody. To advocate for the country’s removal ahead of the vote, an ongoing campaign titled Women Life Freedom is staging installations across from U.N. headquarters as part of Eyes on Iran, which brought artists like Shirin Neshat, Icy & Sot (previously) and Hank Willis Thomas (previously) to Four Freedoms Park.

“The world’s eyes have been focused on the courage of Iranian citizens in their quest for freedom, in the face of increasingly grave danger,” said activist Nazanin Afshin-Jam Mackay. “The Islamic Republic has censored them and attempted to blind the world to the potential of this movement. Eyes on Iran is our response to their call for a free Iran.”

French artist JR (previously) joined the initiative on December 4, drawing more than 300 people who participated in a large-scale public work. Those in attendance stood next to a silhouette of sixteen-year-old activist Nika Shakarami, who was killed in September during protests against Amini’s death. Volunteers swayed their arms to mimic wind blowing through the teen’s hair, serving as a poignant reminder of the unjust restrictions Iranian women face.

If you’re in New York, you can see the Eyes on Iran works at the park through January 1.


An aerial photo of people forming the hair of a woman's silhouette on the ground

An aerial photo of people forming the hair of a woman's silhouette on the ground





Write for Rights: An Illustrated Campaign for Amnesty International Aims to Free People Who Are Imprisoned

February 17, 2021

Grace Ebert

“Writing Carries Their Voice” (2020). All images © Amnesty International, shared with permission

A new campaign for Amnesty International exemplifies the power of the pencil in a moving series of illustrations by Bristol-based Owen Gent. Led by creative agency Cossette, the initiative was was designed for Write for Rights, an annual effort striving to free people around the world who are imprisoned unjustly. In the last two decades, it’s proven highly effective and boasted a 75 percent success rate after helping release 127 people.

Set on bold backdrops, Gent’s illustrations each utilize an oversized pencil that stands in for a spotlight, camera flash, boat’s wake, and sound booming from a megaphone, representing the issues facing this year’s targets—read more about Melike Balkan, Özgür Gür, the El Hiblu 3, Khaled Drareni, and Nassima al-Sada on Amnesty International’s site. The poignant renderings serve “as a reminder that even the smallest gesture can have a huge impact—it can change lives,” Cossette says.

Write for Rights is the world’s largest human rights event that generates millions of letters sent around the globe each year. You can find out more about this year’s efforts and how to join on the organization’s site.


“Writing Defends Freedom of the Press” (2020)

“Writing Frees the Innocent” (2020)

“Writing Saves Refugees” (2020)