We are a group of EVS volunteers working for the Infinite Opportunities Association Ngo in Sofia, Bulgaria. We are part of a European campaign focused on the protection of human rights and the spreading of European values on the internet. This is our blog. Here you can find information about our experience in Bulgaria and other interesting news connected to the on-line tolerance platform. Sharing is Caring!
Tuesday, March 19, 2019
WHEN PROTESTING BECOMES A CRIME AGAINST THE STATE: THE STORY OF NASRIN SOTOUNDEH
The news that the Iranian human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoundeh was convicted on 12th March to 33 years in prison (38 if we count a previous sentence) and to 148 lashes shocked the entire world. Nasrin was accused of representing several women who took their hijabs off during a protest against the obligation of wearing it. By doing that, she also took a stand against the application of an additional note to Article 48 of the Criminal Code, which denies the right to appoint a trusted lawyer to defendants of certain crimes, including those against national security. Therefore, the judge accused her of "collusion against national security", "propaganda against the state", "incitement to corruption and prostitution" and "appearing in public without hijab". The news of her sentence was first released on Facebook by her husband Reza Khandan, after receiving a phone call from jail.
Fig. 1 - Nasrin Sotoudeh (source: BBC)
Nasrin Sotoudeh is one of the most well-know lawyer in Iran. She has focused her entire career on the protection of human rights and she has represented imprisoned Iranian opposition activists and politicians following the disputed June 2009 Iranian presidential elections as well as prisoners sentenced to death for crimes committed when they were minors. Sotoudeh was arrested the first time in September 2010 on charges of spreading propaganda and conspiring to harm state security and was imprisoned in solitary confinement in Evin Prison, where she currently is. In January 2011, Iranian authorities sentenced Sotoudeh to 11 years in prison, and barred her from working again as a lawyer and from getting out of the country for 20 years. Later that year, an appeals court reduced her sentence to six years, and her practice ban to ten. She protested against her unfair conviction and treatment in prison with several hunger strikes, especially when denied visits and phone calls from her family.
Fig.2 - A quote by Nasrin Sotoudeh (source: https://twitter.com/ICHRI) Verified account
The response to her sentence from the international community was immediate: the Center for Human Rights in Iran and the UN condemned her sentence and Philip Luther, Middle East and North Africa Research and Advocacy Director at Amnesty said: “Jailing a human rights defender for her peaceful activities is abhorrent".
This was the hardest condemnation inflicted in recent years against human rights defenders in Iran, confirming that the authorities, encouraged by the complete impunity enjoyed by those responsible for human rights violations, are exacerbating the repression and Iran's reputation as oppressor of women's rights.
To sign the petition to free Nasrin, visit Amnesty's website