Human rights lawyer and free speech defender Nasrin Sotoudeh has now been held for more than 100 days. She began her third hunger strike last week and is resolved to continue it until the end.
Shirin Ebadi, Nobel peace laureate and president of the Tehran-based Centre for Human Rights Defenders, Jean-François Julliard, secretary-general of Reporters Without Borders, and François Cantier, president of Lawyers Without Borders France, appeal for the release of this lawyer who has defended many prisoners of conscience in the Iranian courts with determination.
Reporters Without Borders is very concerned that the Islamic Republic of Iran is now targeting lawyers, who are needed by the many prisoners of conscience. More and more journalists and bloggers are being prosecuted while the conditions in which they are held keep on getting worse.
A race against death for Nasrin Sotoudeh
Nasrin Sotoudeh is guilty three times over in the mullah-led regime’s eyes. Guilty of being a woman of conviction. Guilty of being a human rights lawyer. And guilty of daring to speak out against the regime.
Courageous and uncompromising, she has always been ready to defend intellectuals, journalists, bloggers, women’s rights activists and those who represent ethnic or religious minorities. She took up the cause of all those who were the victims of repression for protesting after the June 2009 election. One of the pillars of the Centre for Human Rights Defenders, she again risked her freedom when the regime tried to target the family and associates of fellow human rights lawyer Shirin Ebadi.
Nasrin Sotoudeh has been detained in Tehran’s terrible Evin prison since 5 September. Held in solitary confinement, repeatedly denied visits, constantly watched by five guards, she has been defying her humiliation by staging hunger strikes.
Her struggle is our struggle. The international community and its citizens must react. The Iranian regime is trying to crush a voice that it fears. Its attempt to reduce Nasrin Sotoudeh to silence obliges us to take up the challenge of a race against death. Freedom must triumph. No repression, no imprisonment can hold back a young, emerging civil society, of which Nasrin Sotoudeh is a spokesperson. Let us join our voices with hers. Nasrin Sotoudeh must live and be free.
Shirin Ebadi, Nobel peace laureate and president of the Centre for Human Rights Defenders
Jean-François Julliard, secretary-general of Reporters Without Borders
François Cantier, president Lawyers Without Borders France