Human Rights Defendent Arrested
On Wednesday, June 13th, prominent human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh was arrested and sentenced to five years in the notorious Evin prison on the outskirts of Tehran. Sotoudeh, a world-renowned lawyer, has recently represented several women who were arrested for protesting the law making hijabs mandatory for women in Iran. She was taken from her home on Wednesday night according to her husband Reza Khandan, who has stated that they are unsure of the exact reasons behind her arrest (1).
Multiple international human rights groups have spoken out on behalf of Sotoudeh, deeming her arrest as an outrage and demanding her immediate and unconditional release. Philip Luther, director of MENA programing at Amnesty International, said that Sotoudeh’s arrest is “The latest example of the Iranian authorities’ vindictive attempts to stop her from carrying out her important work as lawyer” (2). Additionally, the executive director of the Center for Human Rights in Iran has stated that this arrest “Reveals the state’s fear of those who defend due process and rule of law in Iran.” Alongside Amnesty International and Center for Human Rights in Iran, various other human rights groups have spoken out since Wednesday calling for the release of Sotoudeh.
Sotoudeh is no stranger to prison; in 2010, she was once sentenced to 11 years in prison and banned from practicing law for 20 years following an arrest on the claims of “activities against national security” and “propaganda against the regime” (3). She garnered worldwide attention when she staged two hunger strikes in protests of the conditions in Evin prison—the same prison she is now being held in. Sotoudeh’s work in a range of areas has won her multiple awards, including the prestigious Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought by the European Union in 2012. She has represented a variety of activists and politicians, as well as prisoners on death-row for crimes committed when they were under-age. Sotoudeh, now 55, is often praised for her work as a brave and prolific human rights defender. Her family, friends, and fans await her release with bated breath.
By Deepika Singh
1- Al Jazeera. “Rights Groups Demand Release of Iranian Lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh.” Israeli–Palestinian Conflict | Al Jazeera. June 14, 2018. Accessed June 15, 2018. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/06/rights-groups-demand-release-iranian-lawyer-nasrin-sotoudeh-180614060718180.html.
2- Feingold, Spencer. “Prominent Iranian Human Rights Lawyer Detained Again.” CNN. June 14, 2018. Accessed June 15, 2018. https://www.cnn.com/2018/06/14/middleeast/nasrin-sotoudeh-iran-human-rights-lawyer-detained/index.html.
3- Tehran, AP In. “Iranian Human Rights Lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh Arrested.” The Guardian. June 13, 2018. Accessed June 15, 2018. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/jun/13/nasrin-sotoudeh-arrested-iran-human-rights-lawyer-islamic-headscarf.