Not so long ago, my colleague Nasrin Sotoudeh was the lawyer so many of us human rights defenders in Iran would call when our government harassed us or put one of us, or one of our family members, in jail. Sadly it is now Nasrin who is in jail. The government's accusations against her include acting contrary to "national security", "propaganda against the state", and "membership" of the Center for Defenders of Human Rights, an organisation I founded in 2001. The government has also accused her of failing to wear hijab, the traditional Islamic covering for women. On some of these trumped-up charges she has been sentenced to 11 years in jail, and is now banned from practising law for 20 years.
Entries in Kayhan (4)
1826 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Detained activist Hossein Ronaghi Maleki, a detained Iranian human rights activist, has asked the head of the judiciary, Sadegh Larijani, to prosecute the officials who beat him and other aid workers in August at a relief camp for earthquake victims in northwestern Iran.
Thirty volunteer aid workers were arrested after they set up a camp in Eastern Azerbaijan. Some were released on bail, but others, including Ronaghi Maleki, remain in custody.
The activist wrote, "I believe that our efforts were humane and right and I continue to defend aiding people for which I am ready to lay down my life. I refuse to remain silent in the face of the injustice the aid workers have been subjected to until a fair judge stands up for our rights."
Ronaghi Maleki was arrested during the protests after the disputed 2009 Presidential election for publishing a critique of the Government on his blog. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison and was released on bail shortly before his arrest in August.
"Our demands in the past as well as the present are clear, and have been emphasized even in the aftermath of the recent [2009 presidential] election. [Favourable] conditions for broad participation of people [in the elections] and guaranteeing their rights must be provided. In addition, the elections must be held in such a way that there will be minimum hindrance of free voting by the people and maximum conditions for materializing their demands and ideals.
"The minimum conditions for the Reformists' participation in the elections are the release of all the political prisoners, freedom for all political parties and groups and removal of all limitations [on their activity], commitment of all, particularly the officials, to the Constitution and the execution of all of its articles, especially its true spirit and holding free and fair elections."
Iran Special: A Plea to Western Media About "Sakineh", Political Prisoners, and Human Rights (Alinejad)
As we approach the anniversary of those who died in the demonstrations of 27 December 2009, I ask my Western colleagues not to be fixated by the Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani case. I ask them to look at the political prisoners languishing in Iran's jails and the pressures faced by families who lost their loved ones during the protest.
I ask them to notice those like renowned Iranian human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh, who represented many of these families and political prisoners, who has now been detained for 3 1/2 months, who has gone on hunger strike not only to fight for her rights but for the rights of the all those who are imprisoned for dissent and pursuit of civil society.
I ask the Western media not just to see one 43-year-old woman fighting for her life. I ask the Western media to take notice of the thousands, inside and outside prison, who are fighting for their lives and those of fellow Iranians.