Nasrin Sotoudeh: Iran’s protests have quieted however anger stays, says famend human rights lawyer


A distinguished Iranian human rights lawyer has informed CNN that whereas a brutal state crackdown has succeeded in quieting the demonstrations that gripped the nation for months, many Iranians nonetheless need regime change.

In an unique interview Wednesday from her residence in Tehran, Nasrin Sotoudeh informed CNN’s Chief International Anchor Christiane Amanpour that, “the protests have somewhat died down, but that doesn’t mean that the people are no longer angry … they constantly want and still want a regime change. They want a referendum.”

Sotoudeh, famend all over the world for advocating for the rights of girls, kids and activists in Iran, is at present on medical furlough from jail, after being sentenced to 38 years in jail and 148 lashes in March 2019.

Nationwide protests rocked Iran final fall, as many years of bitterness over the regime’s remedy of girls and different points boiled over after the loss of life of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini whereas within the custody of the nation’s so-called morality police.

Authorities violently repressed the months-long motion, which had posed one of many largest home threats to Iran’s ruling clerical regime in additional than a decade.

Still, Sotoudeh emphasizes that the protest motion endures. “Official authorities are trying to flex their muscles more, they’re trying to show their strength a lot more than before, but civil disobedience continues and many women courageously take to the streets.”

Protesters in Tehran, Iran took to the streets on September 19, 2022, after the death of Mahsa Amini.

Figures like Sotoudeh, who’ve battled towards Iran’s obligatory hijab carrying for ladies, have been below elevated authorities scrutiny for the reason that rebellion.

The protests exploded right into a full-fledged ladies’s rights motion towards the nation’s headband legal guidelines after the loss of life of Amini, a Kurdish Iranian lady who was detained for allegedly carrying her hijab improperly.

Sotoudeh in contrast Iran’s obligatory hijab legal guidelines to these utilized by different authoritarian regimes in international locations together with Afghanistan, the place the Taliban banned ladies attending universities and dealing with non-governmental organizations.

“This issue really hurt the collective conscience of the Iranian people, because for many years the Iranian people had suffered, and one of the main sufferings was that half the population was constantly being harassed because of their gender, because of their body,” she stated.

“I do believe that both in Iran and in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan, hijab is being used as a means of exerting violence and meting out violence against women, bruising and hurting women, and then covering them in a veil to hide all the bruises and the hurt.”

The Islamic Republic of Iran has lengthy ranked among the many world’s high executioners. But with a number of current loss of life sentences handed all the way down to protesters, critics say the regime has taken capital punishment to a brand new stage.

Reports have additionally emerged of pressured detentions and bodily abuse getting used to focus on the nation’s Kurdish minority group. A CNN investigation with covert testimony revealed sexual violence towards protesters, together with boys, in Iran’s detention facilities for the reason that begin of the unrest.

Imprisoned Iranian activist Farhad Meysami, who is reported to have gone on a hunger strike, is seen at Rajai Shahr prison in Karaj, Iran, in this social media image released on February 2, 2023.

Last week, concern mounted over the well being of imprisoned Iranian physician and civil rights activist Farhad Meysami, after a number of pictures purporting to indicate his frail state emerged on social media.

Sotoudeh, who’s pals with Meysami, stated: “I have to say how sorry I am that for many years, all the news you hear from Iran is bad news, including the pictures of emaciated Farhad Meysami from prison.”

She added that: “(Meysami) said ‘I am against compulsory hijab’ and because he had written (that) on a placard … they imprisoned him.”

The textual content of a letter allegedly written by Meysami and offered to CNN by a human rights lawyer who claims to characterize him, Mohammad Moghimi, confirmed that the activist began the starvation strike to protest the execution of prisoners, to name for the discharge of a number of protesters and to cease hijab legislation enforcements. CNN couldn’t confirm the authenticity of the letter.

Pictures on social media confirmed Meysami’s bones protruding and his head shaved. CNN has not been in a position to verify when the images have been taken. CNN reached out to the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs for remark.

“For many years, Farhad has been a very active member of our civil society, but for the past ten years, [his] activism has become more and more open. And he has been especially supporting the women in their protest movement,” Sotoudeh added.

Meysami was jailed in 2018 after voicing his help for ladies protesting the hijab legislation. He was charged with “assembly and collusion to act against national security” and of “propaganda against the regime,” based on a gaggle targeted on Iran, Human Rights Activists.

After the photographs of Meysami circulated on-line, state affiliated media on Friday denied the activist is at present on starvation strike, and stated that he’s in “good condition.”

“Farhad’s demands are also the demands of all Iranians, and I hope that as soon as possible, these demands will be realized so that we can save Farhad’s life, and we can save all of us,” Sotoudeh informed Amanpour.

Last week, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei accredited a proposal to pardon or commute the sentences of numerous prisoners as a part of an annual amnesty, state media reported.

However, humanitarian organizations dismissed the transfer as “propaganda” and a “PR stunt” forward of the forty fourth anniversary of the “victory of the Islamic Revolution,” marked on February 11. It is customary for Khamenei to grant amnesty to some prisoners to mark this event.

“This is a scenario that is repeated every year. And I don’t want to give myself any false hopes that they are going to release people. I want to have the hope that they will release either one or 10,000 political prisoners, any release I’d be very happy with, and that’s my hope,” Sotoudeh stated of the announcement.

Looking forward, the Iranian lawyer stated that whereas she is terrified of talking out towards the federal government, she is dedicated to releasing future generations from the grip of the regime.

“We don’t know what is going to be the precise outcome, we don’t know that. But people’s demands are becoming more and more transparent, more vociferous,” she added.

Asked if she feared for her personal security, Sotoudeh responded: “Yes … knowing that my family, my children are being threatened, as a mother, because I know it can curb their education, it can curb their progress… yes I am fearful because of that.”

Yet these considerations received’t cease her struggle, she informed Amanpour.

“But on the other hand, I’m also frightened that if I don’t do anything, if I stay passive, that would lead to worsening of the situation,” Sotoudeh added.

“Despite my fear, I try and do what is going to be more helpful for freeing the country and freeing our people.”

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