Nasrin Sotoudeh, an Iranian human rights lawyer was sentenced in 2018 to a total of 38 years in prison and 148 lashes for a variety of offenses, including 12 years for “promoting immorality and indecency.” Her legal work has included litigation opposing death sentences and the imprisonment of girls, as young as 9, for not wearing a hijab. She was first jailed for this work in 2010, and then in 2018 she was arrested, prosecuted and sentenced to the notorious Evin Prison, where she remains. In May of 2019, Amnesty International published letters Nasrin Sotoudeh sent to her daughters, in 2011 and in September of 2018. In March 6, 2020 she wrote a letter that was published in Time Magazine (Time Magazine, March 6, 2020: https://time.com/5797828/nasrin-sotoudeh-iran-evin-prison/) pleading for world peace on International Women’s Day.
In that letter, she wrote: “On this International Women’s Day, as a deadly virus sickens my country, I throw my hands down and as a citizen, in a gentle voice, I ask the government to end their animosity with the world, to look at the world through the eyes of peace and to trust life and human beings.”
Ten days later, she declared a hunger strike, calling for the release of political prisoners (excluded from a mass prisoner release at the end of February), as COVID-19 spreads through Iran’s prison system: “Since all legal and judicial correspondences about the necessity of releasing political prisoners have been left unanswered I am going on hunger strike as a last resort.”