Detained Iranian Human Rights Lawyer and One Million Signatures Campaigner Nasrin Sotoudeh in Critical Condition as She Approaches Day 50 of Hunger Strike; In Tehran Women’s Rights Activists Protest in Solidarity

 

 

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Iranian human rights defender Nasrin Sotoudeh was imprisoned in September 2010. She is currently serving a six-year prison term on the charge of acting against national security. (free_sotoudeh_s (cc) sabzphoto)

 

Update: Nasrin Sotoudeh ended her 49-day hunger strike on December 4, 2012, after authorities acquiesced to her demand to lift a seemingly arbitrary international travel ban imposed on her 12-year-old daughter.

Imprisoned Human Rights Lawyer and One Million Signatures campaigner Nasrin Sotoudeh, who has been on hunger strike since October 17, is reported to be in critical condition.  Reza Khandan, Sotoudeh’s husband, reports that her health has deteriorated significantly and that her weight has dropped below 94 pounds (43 kilograms).  In reprisal for the hunger strike, Sotoudeh was forced to spend 20 days in solitary confinement.    

Sotoudeh began the hunger strike to protest denial of visitation rights, an 18-month restriction on phone calls, and the international travel ban placed on her 12-year-old daughter.  She has agreed to end the hunger strike if the state drops the latter restriction.  

On Sunday December 2, dozens of women’s rights activists demonstrated in front of the Public Prosecutor’s Office in Tehran.  They hand-delivered a letter to the office of Tehran Public Prosecutor General Abbas Jafari Dowlatabadi demanding that Sotoudeh be transferred to a hospital immediately.  The activists were moved to protest in solidarity with Sotoudeh by her tireless commitment to the women’s movement and to advancing human rights inside Iran, according to Change for Equality.

Sotoudeh’s case has received world-wide attention, with many groups and governments calling for her release.  On November 30, the US State Department demanded Iran discharge Sotoudeh and more than 30 other women political prisoners held in Evin Prison.  Also last week, at the Hague, the Dutch group Lawyers for Lawyers demonstrated against Sotoudeh’s mistreatment in front of the Iranian embassy.

Nasrin Sotoudeh, imprisoned in September 2010, is currently serving a 6-year prison term and a 10-year ban on practicing law on the charge of acting against national security for her work with the Centre for Defenders of Human Rights.  The NGO was co-founded by Iran’s Nobel Laureate Shirin Ebadi.  Her initial sentence, imprisonment for 11 years and a 20-year work ban, was reduced by an appeals court. 

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