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Written by HRDs and Journalists
Iran- The GCHR calls on the Iranian Authorities to immediately release Human Rights Lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh
The Gulf Center for Human Rights expresses concern and solidarity with Iranian human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh winner of the 2012 European Parliament Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought together with film director Jafar Panahi.
In January 2011 she was sentenced to 11 years imprisonment and barred from practicing law or leaving the country for 20 years after her conviction on charges of “spreading propaganda and conspiring to harm state security”. An appeals court then reduced her sentence to six years and a 10-year ban on travel and practicing law.
Nasrin Sotoudeh is a 47-year-old human rights lawyer and a mother of two children. She has represented human rights defenders and activists after Iran’s disputed presidential elections in June 2009, juveniles facing the death penalty, women, and prisoners of conscience. Sotoudeh was arrested on 04 September 2010.
Nasrin Sotoudeh initiated a hunger strike on 17 October 2012 protesting against the refusal of the authorities in Iran to allow her to have regular visits with her two children; a 13-year-old daughter and a 5-year-old son, in the past three months, in addition to restrictions on her right to make telephone calls. Sotoudeh informed her family that her hunger strike will continue until the travel ban on her daughter is lifted. Nasrin was on hunger strike in the past protesting her prison conditions.
The GCHR believes that HRD Nasrin Sotoudeh has been arrested as a result of her peaceful and legitimate work in defense of human rights, in particular her work to defend the rights of political detainees in Iran. The GCHR is very concerned that the arrest of Nasrin Sotoudeh is part of an ongoing trend of harassment against human rights defenders in Iran.
The GCHR expresses deep concern for Nasrin Sotoudeh's physical and psychological integrity, especially given that she has been on hunger strike for 16 days to date.
The GCHR urges the Iranian government:
- To immediately and unconditionally release HRD Nasrin Sotoudeh.
- To drop all the trumped up charges against Nasrin Sotoudeh as she is being targeted solely due to her human rights work.
- To guarantee in all circumstances that human rights defenders in Iran are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions including judicial harassment.
The GCHR respectfully reminds the Iranian government that the United Nations Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, adopted by consensus by the UN General Assembly on 9 December 1998, recognizes the legitimacy of the activities of human rights defenders, their right to freedom of association and to carry out their activities without fear of reprisals. We would particularly draw your attention to Article 6 (b and c): “Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others: (b) As provided for in human rights and other applicable international instruments, freely to publish, impart or disseminate to others views, information and knowledge on all human rights and fundamental freedoms; (c) To study, discuss, form and hold opinions on the observance, both in law and in practice, of all human rights and fundamental freedoms and, through these and other appropriate means, to draw public attention to those matters”, and to Article 12 (1 and 2): “(1) Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to participate in peaceful activities against violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms. (2) The State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration.”
The Gulf Centre for Human Rights is an independent centre and has been registered in Ireland. The Centre works to strengthen support for human rights defenders and independent journalists in Bahrain, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Iran, Syria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.