Home Page > News Item > IRAN: Fears for the health of prominent human rights lawyer, journalist and writer.

RAN 54/10 Update #3 – 25 October 2012

PEN International is seriously concerned for the health of prominent writer, journalist and lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh, who is said to be very weak as a result of a hunger stike. Nasrin Soutadeh is serving a six-year prison sentence for her criticism of the government and defense of human rights. PEN International protests her detention, and demands her immediate and unconditional release in accordance with Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is a signatory. It further demands that all restrictions against her family are immediately lifted, and her full visitation rights restored as a matter of urgency.

According to PEN’s information, Nasrin Soutadeh started a hunger strike on 17 October to protest her prison conditions and restrictions placed on her family, in particular a travel-ban placed on her twelve-year-old daughter. Her health is rapidly deteriorating and concerns for her welfare are mounting.

Nasrin Soutadeh was arrested on 4 September 2010 and sentenced to eleven years in prison, reduced to six years on appeal, on charges of “propaganda against the regime”, “acting against national security” and “violating the Islamic dress code (Hijab) in a filmed speech”. She was also banned from practising law for ten years. Soutadeh is charged for critical interviews she gave to overseas media following the disputed June 2009 presidential election, and for her membership of the Association of Human Rights Defenders (see previous alert for more details).

Nasrin Sotoudeh, aged 49 and a mother of two young children aged 6 and 12, has been held Tehran’s Evin Prison since her arrest, for much of the time in solitary confinement. In the two years that she has been behind bars she has been allowed very limited access to her family, in violation of the Iranian Penal Code, and has staged several hunger strikes to protest her illegal treatment in prison. Her health has been significantly weakened as a result, and her life is now believed to be at risk.

Nasrin Sotoudeh is best known as a human rights lawyer and activist, but has also worked as a journalist for several reformist newspapers including Jame’e. Since qualifying as a lawyer in 2003, she has specialised in women’s and children’s rights, and has continued to write articles on these issues. Many of her articles have been rejected for publication, including a report written for a special issue of Daricheh on women’s rights for the occasion of 8 March (Women’s Day) 2010. Following the launch of the One Million Signatures Campaign for the Repeal of Discriminatory Laws in August 2006 by several leading Iranian women activists (http://www.iranianfeministschool.org/english/spip.php?rubrique3), and the widespread growth of the women’s rights movement in Iran, she has represented many women’s rights activists including Parvin Ardalan, a well-known PEN case (see previous alerts). She is a close associate of exiled lawyer and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi, and has represented many imprisoned Iranian opposition activists arrested in the unprecedented crackdown on dissent following the disputed presidential elections of 12 June 2009. Arrests are continuing, and many have been handed down lengthy sentences.

Please send appeals:
Expressing serious concerns for the safety of writer, journalist and lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh, whose health is rapidly deteriorating as a result of a hunger strike;
Protesting the restrictions placed on her family, and the denial of full visitation rights;
Calling for her immediate and unconditional release in accordance with Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is a signatory.

Appeals to:
Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic
His Excellency Ayatollah Sayed ‘Ali Khamenei,
The Office of the Supreme Leader
Shoahada Street,
Qom,
Islamic Republic of Iran.

Head of the Judiciary
Ayatollah Sadeqh Larijani
Howzeh Riyasat-e Qoveh Qazaiyeh (Office of the Head of the Judiciary)
Pasteur St., Vali Asr Ave., south of Serah-e Jomhouri
Tehran 1316814737
Islamic Republic of Iran.

COPIES TO:
President:
His Excellency Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
The Presidency,
Palestine Avenue,
Azerbaijan Intersection,
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Fax: Via Foreign Ministry: +98 21 6 674 790
(mark: “Please forward to H.E. President Ahmadinejad”)

If possible please send a copy of your appeal to the diplomatic representative for Iran in your country.

For further information please contact Cathy McCann at International PEN Writers in Prison Committee, Brownlow House, 50/51 High Holborn, London WC1V 6ER, Tel.+ 44 (0) 20 7405 0338, Fax: +44 (0) 20 7405 0339, email: cathy.mccann@internationalpen.org.uk

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