By Azita Carlson
Prominent human rights lawyer and women’s rights defender Nasrin Sotoudeh dedicated her life to peacefully pursuing human rights — including opposition to the discriminatory forced veiling laws, as well as the death penalty.
She was arrested at her home, on charges in connection with her human rights work, on June 13th 2018. Previously, in September 2016, Nasrin Sotoudeh had been sentenced to five years’ imprisonment in a separate case also linked to her human rights work.
In March 2019, she was sentenced to 33 years and six months in prison and 148 lashes. Under Iran’s sentencing guidelines, the actual prison term she has to serve in this case is 12 years. The sentencing of both cases together totals 38 years and six months. She is expected to serve 17 years of this.
According to what Amnesty International announced this week, in more than 200 countries and territories around the world, at least a million people have come together to express their outrage at the sentencing of the prominent Iranian human rights lawyer. Signatures on petitions demanding her release were handed in to Iranian embassies around the world.
Amnesty International is organizing a global handover of the signatures collected, to mark one year since Ms. Sotoudeh’s arrest. Under Iran’s sentencing guidelines, she is due to serve 17 years in prison, but Amnesty is calling on Iranian authorities to release her immediately and unconditionally.
“The cruel sentence handed down to Nasrin Sotoudeh for defending women’s rights and standing up against Iran’s discriminatory and degrading forced veiling laws has sent shock waves around the world. The injustice of her case has touched the hearts of hundreds of thousands of people who, in a moving display of solidarity, have raised their voices to demand her freedom,” said Philip Luther, Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.
“We hope the support for Amnesty International’s campaign shows Nasrin Sotoudeh that, despite having to face an agonizing ordeal, she is not alone. Her continued detention has exposed the depths of the Iranian authorities’ repression on an international stage. Today we are sending them a clear message: the world is watching and our campaign will continue until Nasrin Sotoudeh is free.”
Ms. Sotoudeh’s case represents the wider crackdown over the last few years to invalidate Iran’s civil society and silence those advocating for human rights in the country. Amnesty International is calling on the Iranian authorities to stop attacks on human rights defenders, including human rights lawyers and women’s rights defenders.
“This campaign demonstrates that, whether we are in Argentina, Cameroon, Japan, Pakistan or Spain, what unites us is our common humanity and we need to stand up against human rights violations wherever they are happening in the world,” said Philip Luther.
1,188,381 people had signed Amnesty International’s petition as of June 10th.