Credit: Amnesty International

The Right Livelihood Foundation condemns the appalling decision to send Nasrin Sotoudeh back to prison

The Right Livelihood Foundation is shocked at the news that Iranian human rights lawyer and 2020 Right Livelihood Laureate Nasrin Sotoudeh has been ordered back to prison today, and condemns in the strongest terms the decision by the Iranian authorities to deny Sotoudeh, once again, the enjoyment of her basic rights and freedoms. 

On November 7, 2020, following a severe deterioration of her health, Sotoudeh was released from Qarchak prison for a temporary medical leave. Once at home, she tested positive for COVID-19, which she had contracted in prison. As a consequence, she couldn’t receive the medical treatment that she had been released for and that had been denied to her in the past months. She spent the last three weeks quarantining at home, without being able to hug her children.

In March 2019, Sotoudeh was sentenced to a total of 38 years in prison and 148 lashes on charges relating to various national security offences. While in detention, she had conducted several hunger strikes to raise attention to the plight of political prisoners. On August 11, 2020, she began a hunger strike to protest against the dire prison conditions and to demand the release of political prisoners whose health was threatened by the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, her health deteriorated severely.

“This is an outrageous injustice,” said Ole von Uexkull, Executive Director of the Right Livelihood Foundation. “With this latest move, Iranian authorities have demonstrated that they will go to any lengths to deny Sotoudeh her legitimate right to work towards a more just society.”

On November 12, the Right Livelihood Foundation and PEN America launched the online campaign #StandUp4Nasrin to gather support from the international community to urge Iran to permanently release her and drop all charges against her. On this occasion, thirty-eight members of the German Bundestag showed full solidarity with her and demanded her unconditional and permanent release in an open letter addressed to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

The Right Livelihood Foundation expresses its utmost concern that the decision to take Sotoudeh back to prison could put her life, once again, in great danger. We reiterate that Iran must uphold Sotoudeh’s right to the highest attainable standard of health, including by providing her with prompt and adequate medical care. We urge Iranian authorities to reconsider their decision and to immediately drop all the unjust charges against her. She shouldn’t have been in prison in the first place.

Nasrin Sotoudeh is a human rights lawyer and renowned activist for justice and the rule of law in Iran. During the last 15 years, Sotoudeh has defended numerous political prisoners, opposition activists and journalists, as well as human rights activists who were persecuted by Iranian authorities. Her insistence on the rule of law and standing up against oppression have made her a symbol of the struggle for justice in Iran.

In 2020, she was awarded the Right Livelihood Award “for her fearless activism, at great personal risk to promote political freedoms and human rights in Iran.”