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Two Statements with 1600 Signatures Call for the Immediate and Unconditional Release of Nasrin Sotoodeh, Human Rights Lawyer and Women’s Rights Activist

Thursday 28 October 2010


Change for Equality: Nasrin Sotoodeh, human rights lawyer and women’s rights activist was arrested on September 4, 2010 and has been on hunger strike since September 24 and has been denied the right to contact her family and her lawyer. Several statements have been issued objecting to her detention and calling for her release. Recently two statements were issued and nearly 1600 persons have signed these statement calling for the immediate and unconditional release of Nasrin Sotoodeh. The statements and related news appear below.

Statement by more than 800 Women’s Rights and Social Activists

More than 800 women’s rights activists, human rights activists and clients of Nasrin Sotoodeh have issued a statement in which they have expressed their grave concern about the continued detention of this human rights defender, especially given the fact that she continues to be on hunger strike. Those signing the statement hold officials at the judiciary responsible for the health and wellbeing of Nasrin Sotoodeh and have demanded her immediate and unconditional release.

Nasrin Sotoodeh , a human rights lawyer and women’s rights activist, has been in detention since September 4, 2010. She is being held in solitary confinement in Section 209 of Evin Prison and there is increasing concern about her health. She has been on hunger strike since September 24, 2010 and has had virtually no contact with her family for one month, which has lead to increasing concern about her health. The statement issued by women’s rights activists, human rights activists and some of her clients appears below:

Nasrin Sotoodeh Health is in Danger

Human rights defenders face increasing restrictions daily. The Defenders of Human Rights Center is shut down by authorities. The accreditations of some the bravest and most committed lawyers are withdrawn. Lawyers, who have committed no crime but that of defending their clients and empowering them in the face of an all powerful judiciary, are imprisoned. Other human rights defenders are issued lengthy prison sentences.

In the midst of all this, Nasrin Sotoodeh, a brave and committed human rights lawyer and women’s rights activist, has been imprisoned since September 4, 2010. She has been on hunger strike since September 24 and has only been able to contact her family in a short telephone call to tell them of her hunger strike. Besides this, there is no news of her situation. The lack of news on Nasrin Sotoodeh’s situation has caused extreme concern on the part of her husband, her children and women and human rights activists. We are extremely concerned about her health and demand accountability from judicial officials in this regard, lest the irresponsibility of officials endanger the health of Nasrin Sotoodeh in prison, as it endangered the health of Nargess Mohammadi, while she was in detained.

Nasrin Sotoodeh has committed no crime except that of defending human integrity. Her crime has been to defend children whose bitter fate unfairly landed them in prison. Her crime has been that of defending women and men who have advocated for more just laws. Nasrin Sotoodeh’s crime has been the defense of clients who have been imprisoned for their beliefs. All the while, Nasrin Sotoodeh has remained committed to carrying out her struggle within the limits of the law and has defended her clients within the legal framework. Nasrin Sotoodeh’s only crime has been to advocate for greater justice within the judicial system. She should be lauded for her efforts. She should not be punished.

We, a group of women’s rights and human rights activists, her clients and her friends, are extremely worried about her wellbeing and physical condition and we hold officials at the judiciary responsible for protecting her health. Our demand is the immediate and unconditional release of Nasrin Sotoodeh.

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Over 700 Individuals Call for Immediate and Unconditional Release of Nasrin Sotoodeh

While it has been nearly three weeks since Nasrin Sotoodeh went on hunger strike to object to her condition in detention and in solitary confinement, nearly 750 individuals have signed a petition published on the internet calling for release. Prior to this several petitions and statements were issued objecting to the continued detention of Nasrin Sotoodeh, including a statement issued by her clients, a statement issued by over 400 women’s rights activists and a statement issued by Shirin Ebadi and 8 international non-governmental organizations. Still, Sotoodeh remains in prison and has been denied contact with her family and lawyer.

This short petition published on the web, included background information on the conditions of Sotoodeh’s arrest as well. The text of the petition reads as follows:

Release Human Rights Lawyer, Nasrin Sotoodeh

1) We demand the immediate release of Nasrin Sotoudeh and to drop ALL charges against her.

2) Stop the persecution of all Iranian human rights lawyers and adhere to the international human rights laws in which the Iran government is a state party.

3) Allow Nasrin Sotoudeh to continue her work as a human rights attorney uninterrupted and allow her to visit her clients and give her access to her clients files and paperwork as guaranteed by judicial law.

A statement signed by over 400 women’s rights activists, has called for the immediate and unconditional release of Nasrin Sotoodeh. This human rights lawyer and women’s rights activist was arrested on September 4th and remains in solitary confinement.

The text of the statement appears below:

Defense of Human Rights is not a Crime: Release Nasrin Sotoodeh, Human Rights Lawyer and Women’s Rights Activist

With the increased pressures the maneuvering room for human rights defenders and human rights lawyers is becoming increasingly constrained. Vivid examples of these pressures include some of the following: the closure and prevention of the activities of the Defenders of Human Rights Center, the repeal of accreditation of lawyers to practice law, the arrest of human rights defenders, the issuance of heavy prison sentences for human rights defenders such as Shiva Nazarahari and the continued imprisonment of human rights lawyers such as Mohammand Oliayaeefar.

This time, Nasrin Sotoodeh, a brave human rights lawyer and women’s rights activist, has been imprisoned. This development is an indication of the worsening situation of lawyers who choose to defend political and social activists. These actions are carried out in an effort to increase the exiting fear and dread associated with continued civil and political activities. It is carried out so, that the defense of civil rights too is recognized as a crime. It is carried out so that lawyers and the clients are both placed in the position of the accused—so that they are both accused of committing crimes which endanger national security.

Nasrin Sotoodeh is a social activist, women’s rights activist, human rights lawyer, children’s rights activist and one of the leading campaigners in the fight to end child executions. This women’s rights activist who is a member of the Defenders of Human Rights Center, is one of few lawyers committed to justice, who have dedicated their professional lives to the cause of civil rights, to teaching it and to defending it. Their commitment is so great in fact that the defense of human rights has become a part of their daily lives.

Sotoodeh’s main demand in courts and the prosecutor’s office has been the rights of her clients. The consequence of demanding the law, especially given the few laws that safeguard civil liberties, has been her arrest and imprisonment. We, as signatories to this petition, demand the unconditional and immediate release of Nasrin Sotoodeh and other imprisoned human rights lawyers and view their continued detention as illegal.

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