Iran’s noted rights lawyer Sotoudeh arrested, says husband

Iran's award-winning human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh was arrested on June 13, 2018, her husband said in a Facebook post saying that she was transferred to the capital's notorious Evin prison where many political prisoners are held. (AFP / Behrouz Mehri)
Updated 14 June 2018
0

Iran’s noted rights lawyer Sotoudeh arrested, says husband

  • Sotoudeh, 55, one of the few outspoken advocates for human rights in Iran, recently represented several women arrested for protesting against the mandatory wearing of headscarves.
  • Sotoudeh has also defended journalists and activists including Nobel Peace laureate Shirin Ebadi and several dissidents arrested during mass protests in 2009.

TEHRAN: Iran’s award-winning human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh was arrested on Wednesday, her husband said in a Facebook post.

“A few hours ago Nasrin was arrested at home and transferred to Evin,” Tehran’s notorious prison where many political prisoners are held, her husband Reza Khandan wrote.

Sotoudeh, 55, one of the few outspoken advocates for human rights in Iran, recently represented several women arrested for protesting against the mandatory wearing of headscarves. Tehran police said in February that 29 women had been detained for posing in public without their headscarves in the previous weeks.

Khandan’s Facebook message was defiant, saying: “I once told interrogators in the interrogating room: ‘Of all the things the authorities should do for their country, you only know one and that is arresting people’.”

Sotoudeh won the European Parliament’s prestigious Sakharov rights award in 2012 for her work on high-profile rights and political cases, including juveniles facing the death penalty in the Islamic republic.

She spent three years in prison between 2010 and 2013 for “actions against national security” and spreading “propaganda against the regime” and remains banned from representing political cases or leaving Iran until 2022.

Sotoudeh has defended journalists and activists including Nobel Peace laureate Shirin Ebadi and several dissidents arrested during mass protests in 2009. During her time in jail, she staged two hunger strikes in protest at the conditions in Evin and over a ban on seeing her son and daughter.

Sotoudeh was released in September 2013 shortly before Iran’s then newly elected President Hassan Rouhani, who had campaigned on a pledge to improve civil rights, attended the UN General Assembly.


Sudan protests rumble on as Bashir remains defiant

Updated 54 min 29 sec ago
0

Sudan protests rumble on as Bashir remains defiant

  • Rights group Human Rights Watch has put the death toll at 40, including children and medical staff
  • Bashir has remained steadfast in rejecting calls for him to resign

KHARTOUM: One month after protests erupted across Sudan against rising bread prices, anti-government demonstrations have turned into daily rallies against a defiant President Omar al-Bashir who has rejected calls to resign.
Protest organisers have called for a march on the presidential palace in the capital Khartoum on Thursday, along with simultaneous demonstrations in several other cities.
Authorities say at least 24 people have died since the protests first broke out on December 19 after a government decision to triple the price of bread.
Rights group Human Rights Watch has put the death toll at 40, including children and medical staff.
The protests have escalated into nationwide anti-government demonstrations that experts say pose the biggest challenge to Bashir since he took power in an Islamist-backed coup in 1989.
"I have been demonstrating and will continue to demonstrate until this regime is overthrown," vowed Adel Ibrahim, 28, who has participated in demonstrations in Khartoum.
"We are protesting to save our future and the future of our homeland."
Protests initially broke out in the eastern town of Atbara, which has a history of anti-government sentiment, and within days spread to other provinces and then to Khartoum.
Cities like Port Sudan, Gadaref, Kassala and agricultural regions that previously backed Bashir saw protests calling for him to step down, while the western region of Darfur too witnessed rallies against the 75-year-old veteran leader.
Using social media networks to mobilise crowds, most protesters have marched chanting "Peace, freedom, justice", while some have even adopted the 2011 Arab Spring slogan -- "the people want the fall of the regime".
Crowds of demonstrators, whistling and clapping, have braved volleys of tear gas whenever they have taken to the streets, witnesses said.
"There's a momentum now and people are coming out daily," said prominent Sudanese columnist Faisal Mohamed Salih.
"Even the authorities are astonished."
Although the unrest was triggered by the cut in a vital bread subsidy, Sudan has faced a mounting economic crisis in the past year, including an acute shortage of foreign currency.
Repeated shortages of food and fuel have been reported across cities, including in Khartoum, while the cost of food and medicine has more than doubled.
Officials have blamed Washington for Sudan's economic woes.
The US imposed a trade embargo on Khartoum in 1997 that was lifted only in October 2017. It restricted Sudan from conducting international business and financial transactions.
But critics of Bashir say his government's mismanagement of key sectors and its huge spending on fighting ethnic minority rebellions in Darfur and in areas near the South Sudan border has been stoking economic trouble for years.
"If this regime continues like this, we will soon lose our country, which is why we have to fight," said Ibrahim, who has been looking for a job for years.
An umbrella group of unions of doctors, teachers and engineers calling itself the Sudanese Professionals' Association has spearheaded the campaign, calling this week the "Week of Uprising".
"Protesters don't even know the organisers by names, but they still trust them," said Salih.
Sudanese authorities led by the feared National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) have cracked down on protesters, drawing international criticism.
More than 1,000 people, including protesters, activists, opposition leaders and journalists have been arrested so far, rights groups say.
Bashir has remained steadfast in rejecting calls for him to resign.
"Demonstrations will not change the government," he told a rally in Darfur on Monday as supporters chanted "Stay, stay".
"There's only one road to power and that is through the ballot box. The Sudanese people will decide in 2020 who will govern them," said Bashir, who is planning to run for the presidency for the third time in elections to be held next year.
Two uprisings in Sudan in 1964 and 1985 saw regimes change within days, but experts say this time protesters have a long road ahead.
"At the moment, Bashir appears to have the majority of the security services on his side," said Willow Berridge, a lecturer at Britain's Newcastle University.
Bashir's ruling National Congress Party has dismissed the demonstrations.
"There are some gatherings, but they are isolated and not big," party spokesman Ibrahim al-Siddiq told AFP.
The International Crisis Group think-tank said Bashir might well weather the unrest.
"But if he does, it will almost certainly be at the cost of further economic decline, greater popular anger, more protests and even tougher crackdowns," it said in a report.
Salih said protesters appeared to be determined.
"But the one who tires first will lose," he said.