More Than 100 Days in Solitary Confinement: The Judiciary Is Responsible for Nasrin Sotoudeh’s Well-being
Interview with Reza Khandan, Nasrin Sotoudeh’s Spouse
Thursday 16 December 2010
Change for Equality: Today, December 16, 2010, is the ninth day of Nasrin Sotoudeh’s dry hunger strike. This is the second time she goes on a dry hunger strike since December 5th. Her main demand is the "repeal of all unjust sentences after the elections." She has been kept in solitary confinement since her arrest on September 4 2010 and although her hearings have been completed in two court sessions, the judge has extended her temporary arrest. On the 100th day of her arrest, we spoke with her spouse, Mr. Reza Khandan:
What is the latest you know about her condition since she began the hunger strike?
Reza Khandan: She has been on a dry hunger strike since December 5th. Five days after she began the hunger strike we found out that she was in critical condition. She could hardly speak on the phone and she was too weak and dehydrated to speak for the whole allowed duration. I know that she has been taken to the clinic at least once but she tries to make things look ok for our sakes.
I would like to emphasize that the judiciary is directly responsible for her physical and emotional health. Since our last phone conversation with her we have been extremely worried and we hope that the officials will take the necessary steps to avoid a tragedy before it’s too late.
What is the state of her case? Considering that section 209 of Evin prison is under the control of the intelligence ministry rather than the judiciary, which judiciary official is responsible for her continued arrest? Why is she still being kept in a solitary cell?
Reza Khandan: Her court hearings finished on November 28 and we are awaiting a verdict. The 26th branch of Tehran Revolutionary Court presided by judge Pir-Abbas is handling her case. Extension of her temporary arrest has been officially delivered to her in prison on December 7th and Ms. Sotoudeh has filed a complaint; her appeal needs to be considered.
We don’t know the reason why (after 100 days of arrest) she is continued to be kept in solitary confinement rather than being transferred to the general ward and why her arrest conditions have not become normal or why she is still in section 209 and is not allowed in-person visitations.
Do you know why the judge extended the arrest rather than changing it to a bail or personal guarantee (or other substitutes)?
Reza Khandan: They have delivered the papers for extension of her arrest to her in prison, so we don’t know the judge’s reasons.
What is the reason for Ms. Sotoudeh’s resumption of a dry hunger strike? What has she stated as her demand to end her hunger strike?
Reza Khandan: The repeal of all unjust verdicts passed after the elections.
How are your children? Have they been able to meet with Ms. Sotoudeh?
Reza Khandan: They are not doing well emotionally. Nima seems constantly restless. Mehraveh is different; she seems quieter and that is very dangerous since she keeps her anxiety inside. The days when Nasrin calls or the days we speak about their mother more, at night Nima keeps waking up in panic and cries a lot.
During these 100 days the kids were only able to see their mother once for 20 minutes and in a terrible situation. We are not permitted in-person visitations and specialists tell us that we should not take them to cubicle visits (no contact visits) because children will need to hug their mother otherwise they will suffer from emotional damage.
What have you and Ms. Sotoudeh’s lawyers done for her case so far and what are your requests?
Reza Khandan: Her lawyers have been pursuing her case through the Prosecutor’s Office and the Revolutionary Court since the day of her arrest. They were able to meet her once in Evin prison prior to the hearings. Her lawyers have worked hard on her case and I sincerely thank all of them.
We have been to the Prosecutor’s Office, the Revolutinary Court, the Judiciary, and the Justice Ministry as well as entities related to lawyers such as the Bar association and the National Union of Bar associations.
We want her arrest to be annulled so she can be with her family and especially her children while her case is being processed. Her court hearings demonstrated that she has not committed any crime. Her interviews with the media were all done with extreme respect and dignity and with attention to legal considerations.