Nasrin Sotoudeh persecuted for her human rights work

 
 

London, 9 March 2019, MEFD – Middle East Forum for Development (MEFD) is appalled by news that prominent arbitrarily detained Iranian human rights lawyer, Nasrin Sotoudeh, faces up to 34 years in prison and 148 lashes following two grossly unfair trials that transpired against her as a result of her peaceful human rights activities. These activities include her defence of imprisoned women protestors against the abusive forced hijab laws and her peaceful activities for the abolishment of the death penalty in Iran. One of her clients, who participated in the protests against forced hijab, has been sentenced to 20 years imprisonment.

 

Nasrin has been arbitrarily detained in the women’s ward of Tehran’s Evin prison since her arrest on 13 June 2018. The latest trial against her took place on 30 December 2018 before Branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran in her and her lawyer’s absence, which Nasrin decided not to attend citing the unjust nature of the proceedings given that she was not allowed to select an independent lawyer. The authorities instead presented her with a list of 20 lawyers that had been approved by the Head of Judiciary.

 

Seven charges were announced against Nasrin during the latest trial, including “inciting corruption and prostitution”, “openly committing a sinful act by… appearing in public without a hijab”, “disrupting public order”, “disturbing public opinion”, “forming a group with the purpose of disrupting national security”, “spreading propaganda against the system” and “gathering and colluding to commit crimes against national security”.

 

“These are typical vague charges that authorities frequently use to persecute prisoners of conscience in Iran for their peaceful activities” said Mosa Zahed, Executive Director of MEFD.

 

Zahed further elaborated that “some international media outlets have propagated a narrative that suggests that Washington’s Iran policy is reinforcing Iran’s hardliners and therefore victimises rights activists like Nasrin Sotoudeh. Nothing could be further from the truth. Evidence like the promotion of criminals such as Ebrahim Raisi, who was responsible for sending thousands of political prisoners to their deaths in the 1980s, to judiciary Chief and offering amnesty to the former Tehran prosecutor, who has a track record of human rights abuses, shows that the rule of law has no meaning in Iran and that effectively the more crimes that are committed, the higher the likelihood of promotion in the Iranian establishment”.

 

MEFD will continue to raise the plight of Nasrin Sotoudeh and all other prisoners of conscience in Iran on various platforms in order to secure their immediate and unconditional release from prison.

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