August 3, 2020
President of the Islamic Republic of Iran
Pasteur Street, Pasteur Square
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Dear President Rouhani:
The Committee of Concerned Scientists is an independent organization of scientists, physicians, engineers and scholars devoted to the protection and advancement of human rights and scientific freedom for our colleagues all over the world.
We write to again express our grave concern for Nasrin Sotoudeh, a human rights lawyer who was sentenced in 2018 to 38 years in prison and 148 lashes for a variety of offenses, including “promoting immorality and indecency.” She remains locked up, and in May her bank account was frozen for reasons that are unclear. This action amounts to an extra-judicial punishment and may be related to, or in retaliation for, her efforts to draw attention to the plight of political prisoners trapped behind bars during the COVID-19 pandemic.
This action is the latest in a long line of abuses to which Nasrin Sotoudeh has been subjected because of her legal and legitimate human rights work.
She spent three years in prison, from 2010-2013, for her membership in a human rights organization. The 2018 prosecution of Nasrin Sotoudeh for her human rights work, which has included defending against death sentences and the imprisonment of female children, was a further violation of her rights and of Iran’s obligations to respect basic human rights standards and the work of human rights defenders.
As COVID-19 began spreading into Iran earlier this year, Nasrin Sotoudeh began a hunger strike to push for the release of political prisoners, like herself. Confined settings like prisons are high-risk zones for the rapid spread of the virus, a fact acknowledged by your government when it initiated a mass release of non-political prisoners in February.
The failure to release political prisoners during the pandemic is, at best, extremely negligent, and deliberately exposing them to a heightened risk of catching a deadly virus may amount to yet another extra-judicial punishment.
We urge you to release Nasrin Sotoudeh and other political prisoners, restore her bank account, and allow her to pursue her human rights work without further interference.
Thank you for your attention to this most serious matter, and we look forward to receiving your response.
H.E. Gholamali Khoshroo
Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Iran
to the United Nations
622 Third Avenue, 34th Floor
New York, NY 10017
Phone: (212) 687-2020
Fax: (212) 867-7086