Rahana – One year has passed since the arrest of Nasrin Sotoudeh and she is currently serving her 11 year prison sentence.
The following report has been gathered since one year has passed since the arrest of prominent attorney Nasrin Sotoudeh.
Nasrin Sotoudeh was born in 1963, and is a human rights lawyer and activist. She is a member of the One Million Signatures Campaign demanding an end to discriminatory laws against women, and a defender of children’s rights. She was the lawyer for human rights and women’s rights activists, children who were victims of abuse, and juvenile offenders facing the death penalty. In 2009, the International Human Rights Committee awarded Sotoudeh the Human Rights Award.
Sotoudeh has a degree in International Law form Shahid Beheshti University. Since 1991, she has given interviews and written articles for the media outlets including Jamee, Toos, Sobh e Emorooz newspapers, and Aban magazine among others. Sotoudeh was legal council to several political prisoners who were arrested and imprisoned after the protests disputing the presidential elections in 2009.
Nasrin Sotoudeh was arrested on September 4th 2010, and taken to Evin prison. She contacted her family 4 days later by phone to inform them of her whereabouts and condition. Even though her father passed away on September 24th, security and court officials did not allow her temporary leave in order to attend his funeral on December 25th.
Nasrin Sotoudeh went on a hunger strike after being repeatedly denied access to legal council and visitation rights with her family. She began her first hunger strike on September 25th, 2010, protesting mistreatment and lack of regard for her human rights in prison. 27 days later, on October 26th, 2010, her sister announced after a visit with her at Evin prison, that Nasrin had ended her hunger strike. The following week, on October 31st, Nasrin told her family by phone that prison security officials had guaranteed her visitation with her family. However, on December 31st, security officials once again prevented her from seeing her family.
Due to the violation of her basic human rights, this women’s rights activist went on a dry hunger strike on December 30th, 2010. On November 11th, 2010, Sotoudeh visited with her family for 10 minutes. Per the request and pleading of her family, friends, and lawyers, she eventually agreed to break her dry hunger strike. This time she said she would drink only water until all her requests were met. On November 11th, after her first court date for her trial, it was announced that she broke her strike.
Charges and Sentence
Nasrin Sotoudeh was charged with “acting against national security”, “propaganda against the regime,” and “membership in a human rights organization.” It was announced that her first trial would be held on November 17th, at the 26th Branch of the Revolutionary Court, presided by Judge Pir Abbasi. The judge agreed with the prosecutors to delay the trial until November 24th in order to further their investigations. Due to public holidays, the trial was delayed again and finally began on November 28th. Despite the previous announcements stipulating an open trial, Nasrin Sotoudeh’s husband, Reza Khandan was prohibited from attending. Sotoudeh’s last court date was on November 28th and Judge Pir Abbasi announce that her verdict would be announced the following week. However before her verdict was announced, another charge was added to her list of charges. She was once again summoned to court on December 7th to face the charge of failing to adhere to Islamic dress code (hejab) in a film that had been taped in Italy, showing her attending the human rights awards ceremony.
Contrary to Judge Pir Abbasi’s claim, it took one month for Nasrin’s verdict to be announced. Nasrin Sotoudeh, human rights lawyer, was sentenced to 11 years in prison, and a 20-year ban on practicing law or traveling abroad. The verdict was issued, convicting her of acting against national security, propaganda against the regime, and not abiding by the Islamic dress code.
On December 5th, the judge announced that this human rights activist’s temporary detention would be extended until a ruling was made. Sotoudeh had gone on a third hunger strike on October 7th demanding that her human rights be upheld, and asking for a repeal of all the unjust and unlawful verdicts that had been handed out to political prisoners after the disputed elections. She did this despite the fact that her health had dangerously deteriorated and her condition was extremely worrisome. On December 20th, Nasrin Sotoudeh’s lawyer made an announcement that “in light of her responsibilities as the mother of her two young children Sotoudeh hasd broken her hunger strike.” Nasrin was transferred to Evin prison’s infirmary on numerous occasions due to her dangerously deteriorating health caused by her many hunger strikes.
In a prison visit with her husband, Sotoudeh informed him that she does not want to appeal the case. According to her husband, “since the interrogators had told her that she will receive 11 years of imprisonment and the exact court verdict was issued for her, she has reached the conclusion that there is no point in appealing the case and nothing will be changed.”
In April, she was sentenced to a monetary fine for appearing in a video for an Italian human rights award without Islamic cover.
In May, she was transferred to the Methadone Ward of Evin Prison which is in appalling condition from Ward 209. In an interview, her husband stated that she has lost weight and the prison authorities have failed to give her medical attention for her vision problems. Later, she was able to visit her family for Mother’s Day.
Sotoudeh who has been the attorney for many political prisoners, was taken to court with handcuffs in order to determine whether her law practice license will be revoked.(Pictures) In a letter to her husband, she stated that” They are holding a trial in order to revoke my license to practice the law; a license that I always tried to use with honor. Even if my license is taken from me by a government some day, they cannot strip me of my honor; and that is all I need.” After the trial, Reza Khandan stated that the trial was not suitable for a prominnet lawyer like Sotoudeh and since her lawyers were not given the opportunity to review her case, the court date was postponed.”
In a letter to the Head of Judiciary, Sotoudeh wrote that she would like to “thank him for giving her a sentence which is longer than the one given to her clients.” Around the same time, she was once again denied prison visit with her family. Later on, she was able to visit her mother after 8 months.
In August, the authorities detained Sotoudeh’s husband and children under the pretext of searching their belongings. On August 14th, Sotoudeh announced she will refuse to have prison visits with her family in order to protest the way they were treated. She has been on strike for the past 3 weeks.
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