2020 Right Livelihood Laureate Nasrin Sotoudeh.

Iran: Nasrin Sotoudeh violently arrested at Armita Geravand’s funeral

Right Livelihood condemns in the strongest terms the violent arrest of 2020 Right Livelihood Laureate Nasrin Sotoudeh at the funeral of Armita Geravand, the latest victim of Iran’s morality police. At the time of the arrest, Soutoudeh, who was arbitrarily sentenced to 38 years in prison and 148 lashes for her human rights work, had been released on medical furlough. Her health status is incompatible with detention. We call for her immediate release.

Sotoudeh, a renowned Iranian women’s rights lawyer, was violently beaten and arrested while attending the funeral of 17-year-old Armita Geravand, the latest young Iranian woman to die at the hands of the morality police. Gerevand suffered severe brain injuries following a violent altercation in the Tehran metro for not complying with the mandatory hijab laws on October 1, 2023.

On Sunday, October 29, the police stormed the funeral where Sotoudeh and others had gathered to mourn while peacefully protesting the murder and calling for the perpetrators to be brought to justice. Soutoudeh was violently beaten by the police, arbitrarily arrested and brought to Vozara Detention Center, along with over 60 other mourners. Mahsa Amini died in police custody at the same detention centre in September 2022. The following day, Soutoudeh was charged with false accusations of collusion with the intent to disrupt security and refusing to carry out police orders. Sotoudeh has since been transferred to Qarchak prison, where she has been denied visits, including from her lawyer. In response to this blatant violation of her fundamental rights, she initiated a hunger strike and is refusing medication.

Sotoudeh was sentenced to 38 years and 148 lashes in 2019 on trumped-up charges for defending women’s rights, opposing the mandatory hijab law and speaking out against the death penalty in Iran. While in detention, Soutoudeh conducted several hunger strikes to bring attention to the plight of political prisoners, which caused her health to deteriorate severely. In 2021, she obtained a medical furlough. Her health is rapidly deteriorating and remains incompatible with detention. Her life could be in danger if the authorities keep her behind bars.

We urge Iran to immediately and unconditionally release Sotoudeh and all other Iranians detained for exercising their fundamental freedoms.

No one should be imprisoned for demanding justice and respect for human rights. Iranians must be supported in their struggle for democratic change.