Iran rights lawyer Sotoudeh moved to jail out of Tehran

Iran rights lawyer Sotoudeh moved to jail out of Tehran
Iranian lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh was transferred to a detention center for women outside Iran's capital Tehran instead of being hospitalized, her husband said on October 21, 2020. (AFP/File)
Short Url
Updated 22 October 2020

Iran rights lawyer Sotoudeh moved to jail out of Tehran

Iran rights lawyer Sotoudeh moved to jail out of Tehran
  • The UN has called on Iran to free Sotoudeh, a winner of the European Parliament’s Sakharov prize

TEHRAN: Jailed Iranian human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh has been moved to a women’s detention center outside the capital Tehran instead of receiving the hospital treatment she needs, her husband said on Wednesday.

The UN has called on Iran to free Sotoudeh, a winner of the European Parliament’s Sakharov prize, and other political prisoners excluded from a push to empty jails amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“Nasrin called me yesterday (Tuesday) to tell me she’s been transferred straight (from Tehran’s Evin jail) to the one in Qarchak,” more than 30 km away, her husband Reza Khandan told AFP.

“We had been expecting her to be sent to hospital for an angiogram” as decided by “the medical commission at Evin prison,” he said.

Khandan has said that health issues prompted Sotoudeh, 57, to end a hunger strike lasting more than 45 days to push for the release of political prisoners during the pandemic.

The lawyer was sentenced in 2019 to serve 12 years in jail for defending women arrested for protesting compulsory headscarf laws in the Islamic republic.

UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet on Oct. 6 expressed deep concern over the deteriorating situation of rights activists, lawyers and political prisoners held in Iran as a result of the coronavirus crisis.

“People detained solely for their political views or other forms of activism in support of human rights should not be imprisoned at all, and such prisoners, should certainly not be treated more harshly or placed at greater risk,” she said.

“I am very concerned that Nasrin Sotoudeh’s life is at risk,” Bachelet said.

A system of temporary releases to reduce the populations in severely overcrowded prisons, introduced by Iran in February to rein in transmission of Covid-19, has benefited some 120,000 inmates, although a number have since been required to return, her office said.

But it said that prisoners sentenced to more than five years for “national security” offenses were excluded.

The pandemic has cost more 31,000 lives in Iran out of 545,000 declared cases, according to official figures released on Wednesday.


Kuwait parliamentary race kicks off under shadow of pandemic

Updated 05 December 2020

Kuwait parliamentary race kicks off under shadow of pandemic

Kuwait parliamentary race kicks off under shadow of pandemic
  • More than 567,000 voters will be eligible to choose among the 326 candidates contesting the vote
  • Kuwait has a lively political life with a parliament elected for four-year terms

KUWAIT CITY: Kuwait is holding parliamentary elections Saturday under the shadow of Covid-19, with facilities laid on for citizens infected with the disease to vote in special polling stations.
The oil-rich country has enforced some of the strictest regulations in the Gulf to combat the spread of the coronavirus, imposing a months-long nationwide lockdown earlier this year.
But while some curbs have eased, over-the-top election events that traditionally draw thousands for lavish banquets are out, masks remain mandatory and temperature checks are routine when venturing outdoors.
Infected people or those under mandatory quarantine are usually confined to home, with electronic wristbands monitoring their movements.
But in an effort to include all constituents, authorities have designated five schools — one in each electoral district — where they can vote, among the 102 polling stations across the country.
Election officials are expected to be in full personal protective equipment.
Kuwait has a lively political life with a parliament elected for four-year terms that enjoys wide legislative powers.
Political disputes are often fought out in the open.
Parties are neither banned nor recognized, but many groups — including Islamists — operate freely as de facto parties.
But with more than 143,917 coronavirus cases to date, including 886 deaths, the election campaign has been toned down this year.

A worker cleans desks at a polling station ahead of parliamentary elections in Abdullah Salem, Kuwait, on December 3, 2020. (REUTERS/Stephanie McGehee)

The polls, which open at 8:00 a.m. (0500 GMT), will be the first since the new emir, Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, took office in September following the death of his half-brother, 91-year-old Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah.
But with the opposition weakened in recent years, no major political shifts are expected.
A few electoral banners dotted through the streets have been the only reminder of the nation’s political calendar.
Instead, this year’s campaign has mainly been fought on social networks and in the media.
More than 567,000 Kuwaiti voters will be eligible to choose among the 326 candidates contesting the vote, including 29 women.
Ahmad Deyain, secretary general of the opposition group Kuwaiti Progressive Movement, said he expected a lower voter turnout than previous years after the dulled-down campaign.
The usual themes are a constant though, from promises to fight corruption and plans to address youth employment, to freedom of expression, housing, education and the thorny issue of the “bidoon,” Kuwait’s stateless minority.
From 2009 to 2013, and especially after the Arab Spring revolts of 2011, the country went through a period of political turmoil, with parliament and cabinets dissolved several times after disputes between lawmakers and the ruling family-led government.
“Kuwait is still undergoing a political crisis since 2011, and that page has not yet turned,” Deyain told AFP.
“There are still disputes over the electoral system and mismanagement of state funds.
Deyain said he expected some parliamentarians in the new National Assembly to be “more dynamic” in trying to resolve some issues.
Kuwait was the first Gulf Arab state to adopt a parliamentary system in 1962, and women in 2005 won the right to vote and to stand for election.