IRAN: Nasrin Sotoudeh ends hunger strike, must be immediately released from prison

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Paris-Geneva, September 30, 2020 – Human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh decided to put an end to her 46-day hunger strike on September 25, 2020, due to her alarming health condition. The Observatory (FIDH-OMCT) and the League for the Defence of Human Rights in Iran (LDDHI) urge the Iranian authorities to release her immediately.

On September 25, 2020, Nasrin Sotoudeh ended the hunger strike she began on August 11, 2020, due to a severe deterioration of her health. Ms. Sotoudeh went on a hunger strike to call for the immediate release of all human rights defenders and political prisoners in Iran, whose lives have been particularly threatened because of the appalling conditions in Iranian detention facilities, exacerbated by the risks posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Earlier this month, on September 19, 2020, Ms. Sotoudeh was transferred from Tehran’s Evin prison to the capital’s Taleghani Hospital and placed in coronary care unit due to heart problems arising from her hunger strike. During her stay at the hospital, her family was not able to contact her or speak to her doctors about her health, and she was closely monitored by security officers at all times. Despite her very poor health, she was sent back to Evin prison five days later, on September 23, 2020, where she does not receive any medical attention.

The Observatory and LDDHI recall that Nasrin Sotoudeh has been detained in Evin prison since June 13, 2018. She was sentenced to a total of 38.5 years in prison and 148 lashes on December 30, 2018 under charges of “gathering and collusion against national security”, “spreading propaganda against the system”, “effective membership of the illegal and anti-security splinter groups Defenders of Human Rights Centre, LEGAM and National Council of Peace”, “encouraging people to commit corruption and prostitution, and providing the means for it”, “appearing without the sharia-sanctioned hijab at the premises of the magistrate’s office”, “disrupting public order and calm” and “spreading falsehoods with intent to disturb the public opinion”.

The Observatory and LDDHI are deeply concerned about Ms. Nasrin Sotoudeh’s health, which has severely deteriorated as a result of her hunger strike, and which could even worsen because of the lack of effective medical attention in Evin prison. The Observatory and LDDHI reiterate their call on Iranian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Ms. Sotoudeh and all human rights defenders in Iran.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT). The objective of this programme is to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. FIDH and OMCT are both members of, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.

The League for the Defence of Human Rights in Iran (LDDHI) was founded in Paris in March 1983, following the forced closure of the “Iranian Association for the Defence of Human Rights and Liberties” (established in 1977) in 1981, and the departure of its leaders into exile. Since its establishment, LDDHI has consistently reported and campaigned against human rights violations in Iran, concentrating on the abolition of the death penalty in Iran, women’s rights, freedom of political prisoners, rights of religious and ethnic minorities, freedoms of expression, assembly and association among others. LDDHI has been a member of FIDH since 1986.

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