An award winning human rights lawyer from Iran has been sentenced to 148 lashes and 38 years in prison after representing opposition activists.
55-year-old Nasrin Sotoudeh had been giving legal representation to women who faced prosecution after protesting against the compulsory hijab.
The women – known as the ‘Girls of Revolution Street’ – had been protesting against the mandatory headscarves for women, with some capturing and sharing footage of themselves removing the garment.
In 2018, Nasrin took on the case of defending the women facing prosecution. She has since been arrested herself and charged with spying and spreading propaganda, as well as insulting Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Nasrin Sotoudeh is a national treasure in #Iran.
Why? Because she has bravely stood up for women’s rights. For children’s rights. For a safer, fairer Iran. Yet, for this, she is serving 38 years in prison & will be flogged 148 times. #FreeNasrin now.pic.twitter.com/sYl9D67NhS
— Ashraf اشراف🏳 (@ASJBaloch) April 29, 2019
Executive director of the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI), Hadi Ghaemi, has made the following statement, describing Nasrin’s trial as ‘Kaftkaesque’:
Sotoudeh has been sentenced in a Kafkaesque trial severely lacking in international standards of due process.
The Iranian Judiciary is punishing Sotoudeh for trying to uphold the rule of law and the right to a fair defense in cases involving defendants facing politically motivated charges.
First they went after the journalists, activists and dissidents, Now they’re going after their only line of defense.
Nasrin’s husband, Reza Khandan, told CHRI:
All I can say is that it’s shameful for Iran’s judicial system to issue such a heavy sentence against a human rights activist. This verdict shows that making statements in our country comes with such a high price that an attorney can be sentenced to 44 years for it.
I say 44 years because in 2010 she was sentenced to six years in prison for similar charges… This sentence is unjust, illogical and unusual.
— Jon Snow (@JonSnow_t) April 23, 2019
According to The Guardian, Nasrin was imprisoned in 2010 for allegedly spreading propaganda and conspiring to harm state security.
Her imprisonment was widely condemned by the international community, with Amnesty International holding protests outside the Iranian embassy in London. Nasrin denied the charges and was released from prison after serving three years of her six-year sentence.
In 2012, Nasrin was awarded the Sakharov human rights prize by the European parliament.
According to reports from state-backed news orgs, the court has CONFIRMED a 33-year prison sentence for #humanrights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh. Nasrin was originally arrested in June 2018 on "national security" charges for her work representing women protesting headscarf laws. pic.twitter.com/3UDV1swrKb
— Abdorrahman Boroumand Center (@IranRights_org) April 24, 2019
Amnesty International have described Nasrin’s punishment as being ‘the harshest sentence recorded against a human rights defender in Iran in recent years’ and have expressed concern that authorities are now ‘stepping up their repression’.
A petition to free Nasrin has been created by Marie Claire Australia, and has acquired over 120,000 signatures at the time of writing.
You can sign the Change.org petition pushing for Nasrin’s freedom here.
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Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.