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Activists March in Iran on International Women’s Day

Iranian women’s rights activists marched and risked their lives today on the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day for the release of Iranian women’s and human rights lawyer Nasrin Soutadeh, who has spent over six months in prison for allegedly acting against state security, assembling, and collusion with intent to disrupt national security. She was also charged for working with the Center for Human Rights Defenders, which was founded by Nobel Laureate Shirin Ebadi. Soutedeh’s arrest is one in a systematic attack on feminist human rights lawyers and activists in Iran, many of whom have been arrested, prohibited from traveling, and have had their organizations closed.

Sotoudeh was arrested in September and received an 11 year prison sentence at her trial November 15. In addition to the 11 year prison sentence, the court has prohibited Sotoudeh from practicing law or leaving Iran for the next 20 years. Before her arrest, Sotoudeh was a member of the One Million Signatures Campaign working to end the legalazed discrimination against women and on the board of directors of the Society for Defense of Children’s Rights.

Sotoudeh, who has been in Evin Prison since September 4, went on a hunger strike to protest the conditions of her illegal arrest. After ending her hunger strike for a few days, she started a dry hunger strike, protesting her deprivation of her legal rights, such as the right to telephone calls and visits from her family members and her two young children along with the gross mishandling of her case. She broke her dry hunger strike on November 11 and ended her hunger strike, which lasted a total of 50 days, following the trial.

Sources:

One Million Signature Campaign Website 3/8/11; Washington Post 1/10/11; Women in Prison Committee 3/7/11; BBC 1/10/11; International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran 1/9/11; Feminist Daily Newswire 1/10/11 11/16/10

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