Iran: Human rights defender Reza Khandan arrested and Nasrin Sotoudeh remains on hunger strike

17.09.18

According to reports received from Iran by the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR), human rights defender Reza Khandan, husband of detained prominent human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh, has been arrested.

On 04 September 2018, Khandan was arrested almost three months after his wife Sotoudeh was arrested on 13 June. His lawyer, Mohammad Moghimi, said in a Facebook post, “This morning, 04 September 2018, my client, Mr. Reza Khandan, husband of human rights lawyer Mrs. Nasrin Sotoudeh, was arrested at his home and at Branch 7 of Evin Prosecutor's Office, three accusations were directed against him: assembly and collusion against national security, propaganda against the system, and spreading and promoting [the wearing] of no hijab in society. He was informed that a bail amount of 700 million Iranian Toman (USD$16,630) will be issued for him.” Later reports confirmed that he rejected the bail, and he is being held in Evin prison, the same prison as Sotoudeh.

Badges were found in the family’s home, saying “No to compulsory hijab,” which has led to the arrest of several prominent human rights defenders, including Dr. Farhad Meysami, a friend of Sotoudeh’s.

Sotoudeh went on hunger strike on 25 August 2018 to protest poor treatment of family and friends since her arrest in June. See: https://www.gc4hr.org/news/view/1938 According to some other reports, the next day, three new charges were filed against her for “urging a referendum,” “assisting in the formation of house churches” and “organising protest rallies.”

On 13 June 2018, Sotoudeh was taken from her home in Tehran. During the interrogation, she was told that the charges against her are “propaganda against the state,” for allegedly being a member of LEGAM, an NGO opposed to the death penalty, and “assembly and collusion against national security.”  On 15 August 2018, Sotoudeh was sentenced to five years in prison in absentia for the two charges as well as for “espionage”. She has appealed the conviction.

Reports suggested that her detention comes following her legal representation of women arrested in Iran for peacefully protesting against the Islamic Republic’s compulsory hijab law, and for criticising the judiciary. For more info, see https://www.gc4hr.org/news/view/1924.

GCHR urges the authorities in Iran to:

  1. Immediately and unconditionally release Nasrin Sotoudeh and Reza Khandan and drop all charges against them, as well as overturning the prison sentence against Sotoudeh;
  2. Guarantee the physical and psychological integrity and security of Nasrin Sotoudeh while she remains in detention, including ensuring she received the medical attention needed during a hunger strike;
  3. Release all detained human rights defenders and provide them with a safe civic space in which to conduct their work;
  4. Stop arbitrarily arresting and intimidating human rights defenders as a result of their participation in peaceful human rights activities; and
  5. Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in Iran are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions, including judicial harassment. 

The GCHR calls your attention to the rights and fundamental freedoms guaranteed in the United Nations Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms” in particular to Article 6 (c) “Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others: (c) To study, discuss, form and hold opinions on the observance, both in law and in practice, of all human rights and fundamental freedoms and, through these and other appropriate means, to draw public attention to those matters” and to  Article 12.2, which provides that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration.”