Amnesty International Concerned About Deteriorating Health of Iranian Rights Lawyer on Hunger Strike as She Wins Sakharov Prize

Press Release
October 26, 2012

Amnesty International Concerned About Deteriorating Health of Iranian Rights Lawyer on Hunger Strike as She Wins Sakharov Prize

Iranian Authorities Continue Harassment of Human Rights Lawyer and Her Family, Says Human Rights Organization

Contact: Suzanne Trimel, strimel@aiusa.org, 212-633-4150, @strimel

(New York) -- Iranian human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh’s health is deteriorating from a hunger strike, Amnesty International said today, as it was announced that she had won the Sakharov Prize – the European Union award for human rights and freedom of thought. Sotoudeh is on a hunger strike to protest the authorities refusal to allow her face-to-face visits with her 13-year-old daughter and five-year-old son.

An Amnesty International prisoner of conscience, Sotoudeh has been imprisoned since September 2010. She has been on hunger strike for 10 days and was taken to the medical facility in Tehran’s Evin Prison on Monday.

"For three months now Nasrin Sotoudeh has only had visits from her children while behind a glass screen – ever since the authorities discovered she had been using a tissue to write her defense for an upcoming court hearing," said Ann Harrison, deputy director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa program.

"The Iranian authorities have imposed a travel ban on her daughter and on one occasion held her husband overnight in prison for their peaceful advocacy on her behalf. Despite espousing the importance of the family in Iranian life, the authorities do their utmost to silence the families of prisoners of conscience and political prisoners. This is a shocking example of the lengths to which Iran will go to suppress criticism of their policies and practices.

"By harassing the family members of prisoners solely in order to stop their legitimate public campaigning, the Iranian authorities are trampling wholesale on their international human rights obligations."

Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 3 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.