English PEN joins colleagues at PEN International in calling for the release of imprisoned Iranian writer, lawyer and human rights activist Nasrin Sotoudeh. PEN is gravely concerned over the health and wellbeing of Sotoudeh, who has been on hunger strike in protest against the dire prison conditions that political detainees in Iran continue to face during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Nasrin Sotoudeh, who herself is unjustly incarcerated in Evin prison for 38 years in retaliation for her work as legal representative for human rights victims, has been on hunger strike since 11 August in protest against the disgraceful treatment of political detainees in prison throughout the country. While Iranian authorities have belatedly released some prisoners in recognition of the threat posed by COVID-19 on detainees already enduring harrowing prison conditions, many political prisoners remain incarcerated. Several other detainees, including Rezvaneh Ahmad Khanbeigi, have joined Nasrin on hunger strike.
This is the second hunger strike to have been undertaken by Nasrin Sotoudeh this year in support of the release of political prisoners during the COVID-19 pandemic. In response to her selfless activism, Iranian authorities have continually harassed her family, arbitrarily arresting Nasrin’s daughter, Mehraveh Khandan, on politically motivated charges on 17 August. In response to the targeting of her daughter by Iranian security services, Nasrin has given up her visitation rights. Despite the bravery Nasrin has shown in the face of repression by Iranian authorities, her health has continued to severely deteriorate while on hunger strike, with her husband reporting that she has been taken to the cardiac unit of Talefani hospital on 19 September due to heart problems and other health issues. PEN has also received shocking reports that the security team overseeing her treatment in hospital have assaulted her while she was confined to her wheelchair.
We join PEN International and our sister centres, including PEN America and Swedish PEN, in their call for the immediate and unconditional release of Nasrin Sotoudeh, urging that she receives vital medical care free from intimidation. All acts of harassment against Nasrin and her family must be ceased at once, and the charges against her quashed, bringing an end to the use of the judiciary as a tool of repression and coercion against those seeking to better the lives of Iranian citizens. We also join the Office of the United Nations Office High Commissioner for Human Rights in its call for Iranian authorities to immediately release all political detainees, whom are frequently targeted for expressing critical views and incarcerated without sufficient legal basis.
Write to the authorities
Please send appeals to the authorities of the Islamic Republic of Iran:
- Expressing alarm over Nasrin Sotoudeh’s condition and treatment by the Iranian security services while she is gravely ill;
- Calling for her immediate pardoning and release from detainment by the Iranian security services;
- Calling for the immediate cessation of any harassment of her family;
- Urging for the release of all political prisoners who remain unjustly detained and are at great risk of exposure to COVID-19 while incarcerated.
Send appeals to:
Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran
Grand Ayatollah Sayed ‘Ali Khamenei
Address: The Office of the Supreme Leader, Islamic Republic Street, End of Shahid Keshvar Doust Street, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran.
Twitter: @khamenei_ir (English), @Khamenei_ar (Arabic), @Khamenei_es(Spanish).
Head of the Judiciary
Mr Ebrahim Raisi
Address: c/o Permanent Mission of Iran to the UN, Chemin du Petit-Saconnex 28, 1209 Geneva, Switzerland
Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @Iran_UN (English)
President of the Islamic Republic of Iran
Address: The Presidency, Pasteur Street, Pasteur Square Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @HassanRouhani (English) and @Rouhani_ir (Persian)
Send copies to the Embassy of Iran in your country: https://embassy.goabroad.com/embassies-of/iran
For further background information, visit the PEN International website.