Nasrin Sotoudeh starts hunger strike
On 11 August 2020 Iranian human rights defender and lawyer Nasin Sotoudeh began a hunger strike to demand the release of political prisoners in the Evin prison that are threatened by the COVID-19 virus. This is the second time within six months she has gone on a hunger strike to insist the release of political prisoners.
Before starting the hunger strike, Sotoudeh wrote several letters to the judicial authorities concerning the poor conditions of political prisoners. It has been stated that the judicial authorities have not responded to her letters. According to the Center for Human Rights in Iran, which organization has received a copy of a letter written by Sotoudeh, the following reasons are presented for her hunger strike:
“In the midst of the coronavirus crisis engulfing Iran and the world, the situation facing political prisoners has become so difficult that their continued incarceration under these tyrannical conditions has become impossible.”
“Political [activists] have been accused of unbelievable acts: espionage, corruption on earth, undermining national security, prostitution, forming illegal channels on Telegram which can keep them behind bars for up to 10 years or even lead to execution.’
“From the very start of the judicial process all the way through to sentencing, many suspects are denied independent legal representation or prevented from unrestrained consultation with their lawyers.”
“Revolutionary Court judges have repeatedly and unabashedly told political prisoners that verdicts are issued only on the basis of reports prepared by intelligence and security agencies and interrogators spell out in advance the sentences awaiting suspects.”
“Lawyers who challenge Revolutionary Court judges are sent to prison. Political suspects, charged with serious, unimaginable acts, are given maximum punishments – in some cases more severe than in the law – and then they wait, hoping for a legal solution under these unjust conditions.”
“[The law] promises defendants an appellate process during which they are conditionally released, punishment is suspended and verdicts are not enforced until the Appeals Court makes a ruling, while punishments are supposed to be kept to a minimum in accordance to a new law. Instead the authorities resort to unlawful methods and bow to the opinions of interrogators, thus blocking the last [legal] avenues on political prisoners.”
“Many prisoners are currently eligible for conditional release and many of them will be freed with the enforcement of a new law. However, prisoners are being treated as if there is no such law or legal recourse, while the authorities refuse to respond to any communications requesting legal steps [for prisoners’ release].”
“Given the lack of any response to communications and requests for the freedom of political prisoners, I am starting a hunger strike.”
Sotoudeh was arrested in June 2018, and on 12 March 2019 sentenced to 38 years in prison for her peaceful work as a human rights attorney, 12 years of which she must serve before becoming eligible for parole. Among her charges were “encouraging prostitution” for advocating against compulsory hijab and defending citizens’ right to peaceful dissent.
L4L has grave concerns on the situation of Nasrin Sotoudeh, who has been on a hunger strike for almost a week now.
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