Final Communiqué of Iranian Women Rights Activists’ Sit-in in Geneva

Friday 24 December 2010

Change for Equality: Shirin Ebadi and the group of Iranian women activists who gathered to start a sit-in outside the offices of the United Nations in Geneva on December 20 to protest against the continued incarceration of their peer, Nasrin Sotoudeh, ended their sit-in.

They issued a declaration addressed to the international society and human rights organizations as well as UN Human Rights Council about the continuation of their efforts to save Nasrin Sotoudeh and many other prisoners in Iran.

The declaration is as follows:

Ending the sit-in is not the end of our protest.

Nasrin Sotoudeh, our brave lawyer has ended her hunger strike; however, she is continuing her fight to force the Iranian judiciary system to fulfil their obligation to uphold the Law. She decided to end her hunger strike after being admitted to Evin prison’s hospital, and in answer to repeated requests from her family and friends and her duty as a mother.

Meanwhile, the desperate situation of political prisoners and the judiciary authorities’ indifference to even the most basic prisoners’ rights has led two more women’s right activists, Ms Bahareh Hedayat and Ms Mahdieh Golro, who face long sentences, to go on hunger strike.

Condition of political prisoners and prisoners of conscience in Iran is deteriorating daily. A number of them, including Reza Shehabi, Arash Sadeghi, Mohamad Norizad and Gholamhossien Ershi are already on hunger strike. Some, like Dr Ebrahim Yazdi, Mr Mohamad Sedigh-Kabodvand, Mr Issa Saharkhiz, Mr Mohamad Oliaeifar, Mr Mansor Asanlo etc., are in fragile health.

Many women rights activists have been sentenced to long prison terms.

Some of the activists of “Iranian Park Laleh Mothers” held in prison on trumped-up charges.

A number of student activists such as Mr Ahmad Zydabadi and Mr Abdolah Momeni are serving their sentences under unacceptable conditions.

Journalists like Mr Bahman Ahmadi Amoei and Mr Masuod Bastani are in the prison and serving unreasonably long sentences; while the fate of others such as Ms Nazanin Khosrevani and Abdolreza Tajik is uncertain.

Even the families of political prisoners have not been immune from humiliation and insult and even violence and punishment by the Iranian regime.

As stated in our first communiqué, we, some defenders of Iranian women rights, started a sit-in outside the offices of UN in Geneva on 20th December 2010 to enable the voice of Nasrin Sotoudeh to speak to the world. We also called the UN, and in particular UN Human Rights Council, to act to save the life of our imprisoned colleague.

Unfortunately our protests have not been successful; Nasrin and other political prisoners are still incarcerated under inhumane conditions. During the three-day sit-in many civil and human rights’ activists declared their support for the sit-in. As a result, the protest against harsh conditions of Nasrin has evolved into a general demand for investigating unfair convictions of all political prisoners in Iran.
On the last day of the protest in a letter to Mrs Shirin Ebadi, UN High Commissioner of Human Rights, Mrs Navatethem Pillay, promised to follow up Nasrin’s case personally until a resolution is achieved.

This letter states:

“… on behalf of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms. Navanethem Pillay, currently away from Geneva, to thank you for your letter of 20 December 2010 regarding the situation of Ms Nasrin Sotoudeh.

As you would be aware, on 23 November 2010, the High Commissioner issued a public statement highlighting concerns with the situation of human rights defenders and lawyers in Iran, with specific reference to the case of Ms. Sotoudeh. We are also continuing our direct dialogue with the authorities in this regard.

The recent judicial colloquium conducted by OHCHR in Tehran on 1 and 2 December was a further opportunity for our Office to have, direct engagement with the judiciary of Iran on issues of concern including lack of fair trial procedures, particularly in political cases, as well as on the ongoing restriction and harassment of lawyers, journalists and human rights defenders. My colleagues raised the of Ms. Sotoudeh in their discussions with their Iranian counterparts.

Relevant Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council have also intervened with the Iranian authorities in the case of Ms. Sotbudeh. Please be assured that the Office will continue to take follow her case, and will take appropriate steps to reiterate our concerns to the attention of the Iranian authorities. “

Because of her promise to act and also as a sign of respect to the laws of the host country, who agreed to extend the sit-in for three days at short notice, we are terminating our sit-in while continuing our protests until Nasrin, other women rights activists, journalists and all political prisoners are free.

We invite our compatriots and world media organizations to support us in exposing the unacceptable conditions of Iranian political and conscience prisoners.

Shirin Ebadi, Khadijeh Mogaddam, Mansureh Shojaee, Parvin Ardalan, Shadi Sadr, Asieh Amini, Mahbubeh Abbasgholizadeh


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