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What Can We Learn From the Past?

Born 13th May 1920, Cynthia Sampson, inspiration behind Safe World for Women, wrote copious notes about conflict and peace relating to the first half of the 20th century - but still relevant today....

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Imprisoned Iranian Human Rights Defence Lawyer

On 9th January, 2011, renowned Iranian Human Rights lawyer, Nasrin Sotoudeh, was sentenced to a total of 11 years imprisonment, including 5 years for 'not wearing a hijab' in an acceptance video for a human rights award in 2008. Husband, Reza, campaigning for her release, has been charged with encouraging public opinion and publishing lies.


29th MAY 2011

At the request of the judicial authorities, Nasrin Sotoudeh was summoned from Evin prison to attend a court hearing at the Iranian Bar Association concerning the revocation of her license to practice the law.

According to reports received by the Feminist School, however, her court hearing was rescheduled.

Source:  Facebook - International Campaign in Support of Nasrin Sotoudeh

24th MAY 2011

On Tuesday May 24th on the occasion of Mother's Day in Iran, 12 female political prisoners were allowed face to face visitation with their families.  Nasrin Sotoudeh, Bahareh Hedayat and Mahdiyeh Golroo were three of the prisoners finally afforded this right.

Source:  Facebook - International Campaign in Support of Nasrin Sotoudeh

21st MAY 2011

From The Times UK middle east, 21 May 2011, article by Martin Fletcher

"A leading Iranian human rights lawyer who was jailed for defending opposition activists has smuggled a defiant letter from her cell in which she expresses anguish at being separated from her children but protests her innocence and says that she is bearing her burden with pride.

Nasrin Sotoudeh, who wrote on crumpled prison tissue paper, told her three-year-old son to pray that the country’s judges and prosecutors rediscover the meaning of justice so that “we too can someday be allowed to live in peace like so many other countries in the world”.

Ms Sotoudeh, 47, the mother of two young children, became the latest symbol of the barbarity of the regime when she was arrested in September for representing Shirin Ebadi, the exiled Iranian Nobel peace laureate, and dozens of political prisoners detained after President Ahmadinejad’s disputed re-election in 2009.

Source:  Facebook - International Campaign in Support of Nasrin Sotoudeh

19th MAY 2011

Law School honours Nasrin

The Southern Illinois University School of Law honored an Iranian human rights attorney and feminist activist during commencement ceremonies last week.

Nasrin Sotoudeh received the law school’s 2011 Rule of Law Citation during the May 14 ceremonies. The citation is a formal recognition by the law school faculty of the important tradition of the legal profession that “requires lawyers to stand firm in support of liberty and justice in the face of oppression and, by their words and actions, to honor and support the Rule of Law, even at great personal risk.”

Source:  The Saluki Times

Prisoners of Conscience will NOT be transferred to Gharchak Prison, says Nasrin's husband

While all female political prisoners at Evin Prison were transferred to the prison’s Methadone Ward and told they would soon be moved to Gharchak Prison in Varamin, in an interview with the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, Reza Khandan, Nasrin Sotoudeh’s husband, said that it appears the prison authorities may have changed their minds about the transfer. “During my meeting with her [Sotoudeh] last Tuesday, she said that a few days ago she heard in prison that they will remain at Evin and that plans for transferring them to Gharchak, Varamin, have been canceled for now,” Khandan told the Campaign.

“I don’t know what happened in the meantime. Perhaps the authorities decided against the transfer because of all the letters and the publicity about the substandard conditions of Gharchak Prison in Varamin,” said Khandan.

Describing Sotoudeh’s present conditions inside Evin Prison’s Methadon War, Khandan added, “Twenty-five political prisoners at Evin are all kept in the same hall inside this ward, and of course they are not in contact with the other prisoners in this ward. My wife has fewer restrictions in this ward and she is in touch with her political [prisoner] friends. But she cannot make telephone calls. Inside Ward 209, she was allowed to make a 10-minute phone call every week, and this contact is no longer possible. Also, over the recent months, the kids could meet with their mother in person for between five and ten minutes inside Ward 209, but that is no longer possible.”

“Our expectations are not high. In-person visits are every prisoner’s right. We are not asking for anything extraordinary, we want in-person visits according to the law. In nine months, Ms. Sotoudeh and I did not have even one second of in-person visitation, and the total time the children have visited with her is not even one hour,” he added.

Source:  Facebook: International Campaign in Support of Nasrin Sotoudeh

14th MAY 2011

Nasrin concerned for her ailing mother's critical condition

Despite being very concerned for her old, ailing mother, Nasrin Sotoudeh, lawyer and human rights activist recently transferred to the Methadone Ward at Evin prison reserved for criminals and drug addicts, is unable to visit with her mother or contact her by phone.

Reza Khandan, Sotoudeh's husband told Kaleme: "Nasrin lost her father when she was first incarcerated. At the time, the authorities did not even allow her to participate in her father's funeral service. Lately we have been very concerned with my mother-in-law's health. We are fearful that God forbid, something similar would happen to her mother and Nasrin would be deprived of the right to see her. As a result of her old age and various ailments, Nasrin's mother is unable to visit with her daughter in prison and unfortunately, the female prisoners at Evin continue to be deprived of all telephone privileges."

Since Sotoudeh's transfer from the Intelligence Ministry's Ward 209 to the Methadone Quarantine Ward at Evin, she has had not had the opportunity to see her 10 year old daughter and 3 year old son.  When at ward 209, Sotoudeh was reportedly allowed to informally meet with her children for a few minutes in the corridor....

Source:  Facebook: International Campaign in support of Nasrin Sotoudeh

3rd MAY 2011

Another hunger strike planned

Reza Khandan, husband of imprisoned Iranian lawyer and human rights activist Nasrin Sotoudeh, told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran that Sotoudeh is in very poor conditions in prison and is planning to go on another hunger strike. He told the Campaign that security forces clearly told his wife that so long as she does not confess, she is not allowed to leave the prison....

“Ms. Sotoudeh told me during our…visit that due to her poor prison conditions, she is intending to start a hunger strike. I talked to her and convinced her not to do it. She said that if the situation persists until June, she would embark on a hunger strike again, and I really hope that this wont happen,” said Khandan about Sotoudeh’s resumption of her hunger strike.

Source: The Green Voice of Freedom

30th APRIL 2011

Nasrin transferred to ward for dangerous criminals.

Human rights activist and lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh has been transferred from ward 209 at Evin to the Methadone Quarantine Ward* reserved for addicts and dangerous criminals, where reportedly all female political prisoners are currently behind bars.

According to Daneshjoo News, this transfer took place at a time when Sotoudeh's husband had announced that she has lost considerable weight while in prison, her weight decreasing from 58 kilos ( 128 lbs) to 44 kilos (97 lbs). Reza Khandan also reported that despite his wife having vision problems, prison officials had refused to allow her to visit an eye doctor.

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13th APRIL 2011

Freedom to Write Award

PEN American Center today named Nasrin Sotoudeh, a writer, lawyer, and leader of the women’s and children’s rights movement in Iran, as the recipient of its 2011 PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award.

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The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran (ICHRI) spoke with Reza Khandan.

Reza spoke of 'disturbing developments in the human rights lawyer’s case.'

“Unfortunately, when we went to visit Ms. Sotoudeh in prison last week, even though we were never told that she had been barred from having visitors, she did not come [to the visitation hall] until the last minute, and they never told us the reason for it. Her telephone contact has also been suspended. She contacted home every Monday for a month, but now her telephone calls are suspended, too, and we have no information about her conditions”...

Reza Khandan told the ICHRI that Sotoudeh’s second trial on charges of “poor Islamic hejab” in a private video was held in a court session in complete silence, without any defense by Sotoudeh.

“Last week, the second and last court session for Ms. Sotoudeh’s charge of “poor Islamic hejab” in a private video was held. They didn’t allow us, as her family, to attend, even though the court session was public. Only one of her lawyers, Ms. Parakand attended the session. According to her, Ms. Sotoudeh objected to the way the court session was held again, and did not offer any defense for herself during the session. The court continued its session, regardless, and completed it. Now we await the verdict.”

“After five months and 20 days in prison, she continues to remain inside the security ward and under special circumstances. This is despite the fact that the court reviewing her original charges has been held, and a verdict has been issued. From a legal point of view, there is no reason for her to remain inside the security ward and under special circumstances. Despite her repeated requests, during this time she has been deprived of access to pen and paper. She told the Judge in the last session, as well the recent one, that she needs pen and paper to prepare her defense, so that she can at least write down her thoughts on paper, so that she is able to defend herself in court. But they paid no attention to this,” said Nasrin's husband about the reasons Sotoudeh refuses to defend herself in court.

“The other thing that has caused her to repeatedly object is that her family and other individuals are not allowed to attend her court sessions, despite her trial being public. Anyone can attend these sessions, but even during her last court session, her first-degree family members were prevented from attending,” Reza Khandan told the Campaign about the other reason the prominent lawyer refused to defend herself in court.

“Her visits with her lawyers only take place during her court sessions. Naturally, she only has a few minutes in court to talk to her lawyers, and as soon as they see each other, the session starts. She was only allowed one visit with her lawyers in prison 3.5 months ago,”

Source: International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran

MONDAY, 17th JANUARY, 2011

Nasrin's husband, Reza, released on Bail. Charged with encouraging public opinion and publishing lies

According to reports by the Feminist School website, Reza Khandan was arrested after referring to the prosecutor’s office in compliance with a summon he had received last week.

The Persian2English website reports that, according to Reza, he was charged with “encouraging public opinion and publishing lies” and a $50,000 bail was issued as a condition for his release.

Reza also reported that, after Giti Sotoudeh's offer of bail was rejected, Khandan’s family were forced to present an alternative guarantor for his bail.

He was finally released on Monday afternoon, based on the second guarantee.

Nasrin remains in solitary confinement in Evin prison.

Source:  Persian2English


Nasrin's husband, Reza, detained in Evin Prison

Reza Khandan, Nasrin Sotoodeh’s husband, has been detained at Evin prison, after showing up at the prosecutor’s office in response to a summons he received last week.

He responded on Sunday, January 16, 2011, to this summons by appearing in the special security branch of the Revolutionary courts in Evin prison. Khandan was detained after questioning, despite the fact that the Judge in charge of his case issued a bail order in the form of a third party guarantee in the amount of 50 Million Tomans (roughly $50,000). Nasrin Sotoodeh’s sister (Giti Sotoudeh) had volunteered to act as the third party guarantor for his release but the courts did not accept her as a suitable candidate for this purpose.

Nasrin and Reza's family hope that they will be able to find an appropriate guarantor by tomorrow so that Reza Khandan will be released.

Source:  Change for Equality


Nasrin has been sentenced to 11 years in prison:

This includes 5 years for 'violating the Islamic dress code (Hejab)' in a filmed acceptance speech, in which she was accepting a Human Rights Prize by the International Committee on Human Rights, in 2008. She was not permitted to leave the country, at the time to travel to Italy to accept the award.

A further 5 years of the sentence is for 'acting against the national security of the country' and 1 year is for 'propaganda against the regime'.

She has also been banned from practising law and leaving the country for 20 years. Reportedly, an appeal against the sentence can be requested within 20 days.

Nasrin's husband, Reza, has been summoned to the Revolutionary Court. In a statement, he said:

"I have been asked to appear at Branch 1 of the Revolutionary Court. In the written summons, the word 'defendant' was used when referring to me. Of course I was also summoned once about ten to twelve days before my wife was arrested and at the time I was warned about the interviews I had given."

The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran says the 'UN Human Rights Council Should Act to Address the Crisis.' The ICHRI says that Nasrin has 'reportedly been tortured in prison in order to force her to confess to crimes'.

"This is a transparently political sentence aimed at taking one of Iran's leading human rights defenders out of practice via a gross miscarriage of justice," said ICHRI spokesman Hadi Ghaemi.


Nasrin's court hearing postponed

From Reza Khandan, Nasrin Sotoudeh's husband:

Yesterday (Monday) was the first hearing of Nasrin's case relating to Nasrin not wearing a Hijab when she appeared on a video acceptance of a Human Rights Award two years ago.

But the hearing was not held because of protests by Nasrin and her lawyer.

Because Nasrin protested about the judges lack of impartiality, the judge called it 'obstruction of the court' and sentenced Nasrin to five days hard labour.

Nasrin was in high spirits yesterday and protested strongly against the judge and the interrogators.

We don't know when the next hearing will be.


Activists end Geneva protest

Radio Zamaneh reports that Shirin Ebadi and the group of Iranian women activists have ended their sit-in outside the offices of the United Nations in Geneva, in respect for the laws of their own country and following assurances from Mrs. Navatethen Pillay, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. Mrs. Navatethen Pillay reportedly told the group:
“the Office will continue to follow her case, and will take appropriate steps to reiterate our concerns to the attention of the Iranian authorities.”

However, the activists said that they will continue their protests “until Nasrin, other women rights activists, journalists and all political prisoners are free.”

Nasrin is reported to have been acting in defence of Shirin Ebadi

A source familiar with Nasrin Sotoudeh's case says that one major factor that led to her arrest may have been that she was one of the last lawyers to be cooperating with Shirin Ebadi to create a women's rights movement among lawyers. Not only that, but she was also acting in the defense of Shirin Ebadi over financial records that were being scrutinized.


Nasrin ends her hunger strike

Nasrin's husband confirmed, in an interview with the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, that Nasrin has ended her hunger strike and that the reports that she had been transferred to the infirmary were correct.
"It seems her condition became very dangerous on Thursday, and she was forced to break her hunger strike",
Reza Khandan told the ICHRI.

Nasrin's husband expects her to file a law suit

In the interview, Reza Khandan also addressed Mohammad Javad Larijani’s recent accusations against Nasrin Sotoudeh. “The first chance I get to visit with her, I will bring this issue up to Ms. Sotoudeh, because she has no idea about this and she is the one who will have to file suit. But I believe that as soon as she hears this news she will file a lawsuit against Mr. Larijani, because the accusations he has waged against her are extremely heavy, undue, and completely unfounded. These accusations were not even waged during Ms. Sotoudeh’s trial [as a part of the indictment against her]."

Accusations are outrageous

Reza continued: "Mr. Larijani has made accusations such as saying that during the years, Ms. Sotoudeh has gone from one capital to another, talking against Islam... During her professional life, she has only traveled abroad twice and I don’t believe she has given any interviews during those trips. ‘Contact with terrorist groups’ is a very heavy accusation and the whole world knows her positions, so this accusation will not stick to her at all. I am sure that the first thing she will do as soon as she is released is to file suit against Mr. Larijani..."

Nasrin choked up and cheered to hear of global support and messages

“I gave her the messages from all her friends, public figures, and activists, and this made her very happy and she thanked everyone. I also told her about the sit-in of women’s rights activists in front of the UN. This news made her choke and cheer up. I am just happy that she has stopped her hunger strike. That’s all,” Reza Khandan concluded.


Sit-in in Geneva Starts

Monday 20 December @ 11.30 am. Protest begins outside the United Nations Offices in Geneva, Switzerland by a group of women’s rights activists.


Shirin Ebadi: Iranian lawyer, a former judge and human rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner, the first ever Iranian, and the first Muslim woman to have received the prize.

Parvin Ardalan: A leading Iranian women's rights activist, writer and journalist. She was awarded the Olof Palme Prize in 2007. Founding member of the One Million Signatures Campaign.

Asieh Amini: Poet, journalist, and women’s rights activist, is one of Iran’s most effective campaigners against the death penalty, particularly stoning and juvenile executions.

Khadijeh Moghaddam: Iranian women’s rights activist and member of the One Million Signatures Campaign.

Mahboubeh Abbasgholizadeh: women’s rights activist, researcher and filmmaker.

Shadi Sadr: Iranian lawyer, journalist, Iranian woman's rights activist. She is an active lawyer defending execution cases in Iran.

Mansoureh Shojaee: Leading Iranian women's rights activist and writer. Founding member of the One Million Signatures Campaign


Nasrin reported to be transferred to Evin Infirmary

Nasrin's husband told Safe World that he has not heard from her for a few days but believes reports that she has been transferred to the prison infirmary.

Shrin Ebadi announces protest

Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and Iranian lawyer Shirin Ebadi announced a sit-in in front of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva today to demand the release of her embattled colleague in Iran, Nasrin Sotoudeh. The sit-in will start on 20 December.

Shirin Ebadi, Khadijeh Mogaddam, Mansoureh Shojaee, Parvin Ardalan, Shadi Sadr, Asieh Amini and Mahbubeh Abbasgholizadeh signed a joint letter announcing the protest.


Nasrin gives a quote to the UK Times newspaper

“If you are going to hell then go like a man. Let them give me a harsh sentence because that brings a person honour.”


Health continues to deteriorate

Nasrin's husband reports to Safe World that her condition continues to deteriorate and she is finding it increasingly hard to talk.

Prison sentence of at least 10 years is expected

Reza Khandan, Nasrin's husband, told Safe World that the prison officials have told Nasrin that they're going to try and push for a prison sentence of at least 10 years.

Zahra Rahnavard expresses concern

Reza also told Safe World that Zahra Rahnavard, wife of ex-prime minister, Mir-Hossein Mousavi, visited his home.

He said Zahra told him about a flower plant which Nasrin gave him on International Women's Day last year. She named the plant 'Nasrin'. She said she's been so worried about Nasrin that they over-watered the plant - but she's nursing it back to health now.

Human Rights Award Acceptance Video

Reza said that Nasrin reiterated that she'll be back in court on December 27th, when she'll face charges of not wearing a Hijab during a video for the acceptance of a Human Rights award two years ago.

The video, however, was sent to Italy and was never circulated in Iran.


Hospital Visit for Stomach Problem

Reza Khandan told Safe World that Nasrin's condition continues to worsen. She told him she was sent for a hospital visit a few days ago because of a stomach condition. 

Nasrin continues to have trouble speaking.

New Charge - Not Wearing Hijab

Reza Khandan, Nasrin's husband, told Safe World that on Monday, Nasrin was summoned to court and had another charge read against her - regarding not wearing the Hijab.

Two years ago she won the International Human Rights prize of Italy but, because she was unable to leave the country, she had to send a video acceptance to Italy and she wasn't wearing a Hijab.

December 27 is her next court date.

Reza says that Nasrin is pleased to hear of the global support, which is more than she had expected.


Nasrin Did Not Appear at Visiting Time

On Thursday Nasrin's husband went to visit her but Nasrin did not appear. The reason given was that she refused to be blindfolded, as required, or to accept security protocol. However, there are concerns that perhaps her condition has deteriorated so far that the Iranian authorities did not want her to be seen.

Nasrin's husband, Reza Khandan, pleads with the global community:

"Tomorrow Nasrin will have been in solitary detention for 100 days. We have no hope of her release. They disconnect her phone calls.

Please do anything you can to keep the public informed. It will be very important. Thank you for your persistence and kindness."


Translations courtesy of Josh Shahryar @jshahryar


See interview with Reza Khandan, husband of Nasrin Sotoudeh


International Campaign in support of Nasrin Sotoudeh - Fan Page


Mehrangiz Kar talks about Nasrin Sotoudeh