Shirin Ebadi and the group of Iranian women activists who started a sit-in outside the offices of the United Nations in Geneva on December 20 to protest against the continued incarceration of their peer, Nasrin Sotoudeh, ended their sit-in today.
Nasrin Sotoudeh, the Iranian lawyer who has been jailed in Iran since September on charges of “propaganda against the regime and collaboration with the Human Rights Defenders Centre”, ended her hunger strike yesterday at the behest of her family and numerous political figures who were deeply concerned for her well-being.
As Sotoudeh languished in jail after almost three weeks of hunger strike while the Iranian judiciary remained unresponsive to her demands for a just trial, Shirin Ebadi along with Mahboubeh Abbasgholizadeh, Shadi Sadr, Parvin Ardalan, Mansureh Shojaee, Khadijeh Moghaddam and Asieh Amini, seven prominent Iranian women’s rights activists began a sit-in in front of UN offices in Geneva to focus attention on Sotoudeh’s plight.
Today, Wednesday, these activists issued a statement maintaining that they had organized their sit-in “to enable the voice of Nasrin Sotoudeh to speak to the world” and also to enlist the assistance of the UN Human Rights Council to save their imprisoned colleague.
“Unfortunately our protests have not been successful;” the statement goes on to add. “Nasrin and other political prisoners are still incarcerated under inhumane conditions. During the three-day sit-in many civil and human rights’ activists declared their support for the sit-in. As a result, the protest against harsh conditions of Nasrin has evolved into a general demand for investigating unfair convictions of all political prisoners in Iran.”
They point out that in the mean time two more women’s rights activists, Bahareh Hedayat and Mehdieh Golrou, sentenced to long imprisonment terms, have started a hunger strike to protest against their dire situation in prison.
They list the numerous other imprisoned dissidents such as Mohammad Nourizad, Ebrahim Yazdi, Mohammad Oliaeifar and Moansor Osanlo who are suffering from fragile health in Iranian prisons while the judiciary refuses to provide them with adequate health care.
They refer to the plight of student activists, such as Ahmad Zeydabadi amd Abdollah Momeni, as well as journalists such as Bahman Ahmadi Amoi, Massoud Bastani and Nazanin Khosravani imprisoned for long prison terms or held in legal limbo.
The statement signed by the seven activists says that on the last day of the protest, Mrs. Navatethen Pillay, High Commissioner for Human Rights issued them a letter stating that she has pursued the case of Ms. Sotoudeh in an earlier public statement on November 23 and the recent judicial colloquium conducted by ONCHR in Tehran on December 1 and 2 and added that “the Office will continue to follow her case, and will take appropriate steps to reiterate our concerns to the attention of the Iranian authorities.”
The Iranian activists state that in view of this promise and in respect to the laws of their host country, they have decided to end the sit-in but will continue their protests “until Nasrin, other women rights activists, journalists and all political prisoners are free.”