Iran

On the occasion of 29 November, International Day of Women Human Rights Defenders, the Women Human Rights Defenders International Coalition calls on the Iranian authorities to release Nasrin Sotoudeh, a lawyer and defender of women’s human rights, detained since 4 September 2010 in Evin Prison, Tehran. Sotoudeh has been held in solitary confinement where she is at risk of torture or other ill treatment, since her arrest. In protest at her detention and treatment, Sotoudeh went on hunger strike between 31 October and 15 November 2010.

On 23 November the UN human rights chief called for the release of Iranian human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh. This followed the first trial session on 15 November. She has now been held for 80 days, following her arbitrary arrest on 4 September 2010. Amnesty International considers her to be a prisoner of conscience, held solely in connection with her work as a lawyer. 

"My trial took only few minutes. The judge accused me of being the “enemy of God” and said that I shall be executed soon”. The Kurdish female political prisoner on death raw is in a critical condition in Iranian detention but prison’s officials don’t permit her to be seen by doctor, a report said on Thursday. Zeyneb Celaliyan 27 year old from the city of Maku of Eastern Kurdistan was sentenced to death and has been subjected to unbearable excruciation ever since. Celalyan was arrested in Kermanshah for her alleged involvement in the Free Life Party of Kurdistan (PJAK). She was given death sentence in a show trial which only lasted few minutes without having solicitor.

The Violence is Not our Culture Campaign (VNC) and Women Living Under Muslim Laws (WLUML) are gravely concerned over the recent announcement made by the official Iranian television channel on alleged self-incriminating statements by Sakineh Mohammadi-Ashtiani and several others on state TV last 15 November. We join the rest of the international community in denouncing this latest move by the Iranian authorities which adds more injustice to the case of Sakineh Mohammadi-Ashtiani. 

The Third Committee of the United Nations General Assembly’s strong approval of a draft resolution, condemning Iran for grave human right violations, is a welcome step in the continuing effort to put a stoplight on the country’s growing human rights crisis, said the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran today.

Iranian state TV broadcast a statement last night by the woman sentenced to death by stoning for adultery, in which she described herself as a "sinner". Appearing on TV for the third time since her case caught the world's attention, Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, 43, also accused Mina Ahadi, an activist of the German-based International Committee Against Stoning (Icas), of spreading her story around the world. The report also broadcast purported statements by two men whose faces were blurred. State TV identified them as Ashtiani's son, Sajjad Qaderzadeh, 22, and her lawyer, Houtan Kian, both of whom were arrested last month.

Iranian authorities arrested another three lawyers yesterday as they returned to Iran from Turkey. Sara Sabbaghian, Maryam Kianersi and Maryam Karbasi were arrested at Imam Khomeini Airport on unspecified charges, Majzoban-e Noor website reported.

Sabbaghian is said to be involved in the defence of detained Iranian blogger, Hossein Ronaghi and Kinaersi was on the defence team of Kobra Najjar who was saved from a death by stoning sentence two years ago.

The Violence is Not our Culture Campaign (VNC) and Women Living Under Muslim Laws (WLUML) are deeply concerned over the continued denial of human rights in Iran in light of the Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani case. Lack of due process and the right to a fair trial, arbitrary detention, torture, and restrictions of freedom of information, of the press, and of association sadly constitute the status quo in the Islamic Republic.

The Katharine & George Alexander Law Prize brings recognition to lawyers who have used their legal careers to help alleviate injustice and inequity. The 2010 Award winner is Shadi Sadr, Iranian Human Rights and Women's Rights lawyer, and WLUML Council Member. The Committee selected Shadi Sadr because of her ceaseless dedication to championing the cause of Iranian women and risking her freedom to defend those who are wrongfully accused and imprisoned. Below is the text of Sadr's acceptance speech at Santa Clara University in California on 11 November.

Iran failed Wednesday to secure a seat on the board running the new UN super agency for women in the face of a fierce diplomatic onslaught against its rights recordSaudi Arabia, criticised for refusing even to let women drive, got an automatic seat and rights groups said they will now seek to put the spotlight on the Islamic kingdom's record. Four UN agencies were merged this year to set up UN Women, with a 500-million-dollar budget per year, under the leadership of former Chilean president Michelle Bachelet.

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