In prisons across Iran, people have tested positive for COVID-19, raising concerns for prisoners including world renowned Iranian human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh, who has been sentenced to 38 years in prison and 148 lashes for defending women's rights.
Nasrin has dedicated her life to peaceful human rights work, including defending women who peacefully protest against an Iranian law which compels women to wear hijab (headscarf) and loose clothing.
Nasrin has been jailed for defending the right of women to choose whether or not they wear hijab. Amnesty International supports the rights to freedom of religion and freedom of expression, including the right of Muslim women to decide whether to wear the hijab or other forms of Islamic dress.
For her advocacy in support of women’s rights Nasrin has received the harshest sentence recorded against a human rights defender in Iran in recent years, suggesting that the authorities are stepping up their repression. These sentences keep Nasrin separated from her husband and two children and stop her from being able to carry out her important work as a human rights lawyer.
Now, in prisons across Iran, there have been confirmed cases of COVID-19. This raises grave fears that prisoners like Nasrin are at risk of contracting the virus. Prisoners are at particular risk because they are unable to take the same social distancing and hygiene measures as those outside of prison to protect themselves.
Across Iran, prisoners have pleaded with officials to address overcrowded, unhygienic and unsanitary conditions that put them at greater risk of COVID-19 infections, raising alarms about the authorities’ failure to sufficiently protect prison populations from the spread of the virus. Some prisoners have been denied adequate medical care, leaving them at greater risk from the virus if contracted.
Nasrin is among the hundreds of prisoners of conscience jailed in Iran. No one should spend a single day in prison for peacefully exercising their rights.
Call on Iranian authorities to release Nasrin Sotoudeh immediately and unconditionally and for her sentences to be quashed without delay.
Amnesty International firmly opposes all forms of Islamophobia and condemns any and all acts of white supremacist racism and violence against Muslim communities.