Family Members Describe Nasrin Sotoudeh’s Dire Physical Condition While on Hunger Strike
After visiting his wife Nasrin Sotoudeh for the first on Thursday, Reza Khandan described her as unimaginably thin. Khandan said Sotoudeh ended her dry hunger strike on Tuesday and is only drinking water now. According to Khandan, Sotoudeh found out that the judge in charge of her case will not be present at the start of her trial on 15 November, requiring her court date to be postponed.
Khandan told the Campaign that he could not recognize his wife saying, “To tell you the truth, her sister went before me and stopped in front of Nasrin’s booth. If she hadn’t stopped I would have passed her by. Her sister went the week before and recognized her. We have set up Nasrin’s photographs on our room walls and I’m looking at them right now. Honestly, since this morning, I have been thinking that I went to see someone else. It’s a bad feeling. I didn’t expect this at all. She has lost a lot of weight during her nine day dry hunger strike. Her face is darker and smaller. It is indescribable. Her mouth was dry so she spoke with difficulty. One can imagine that when someone is in prison and goes on hunger strike they will look different, but I didn’t expect so much change.”
“The day Nasrin went to court she was fasting. It was the month of Ramadan, so during her first week in prison she was fasting. A few days later she started her hunger strike and continued it for 27 days. She then started her dry hunger strike. Despite what her lawyers reported, I wasn’t sure that she had ended her hunger strike last Tuesday. Her lawyers said that they spoke with her and convinced her [to end her hunger strike], but I was doubtful. Nasrin told me today that she stopped her dry hunger strike last Tuesday after receiving letters and requests from friends, but that she is continuing her wet hunger strike and is only drinking water now,” said Khandan.
Khandan told the Campaign that his visit with Sotoudeh was completely surprising. “Thursday is the regular visitation day for prisoners in Evin’s Ward 209. [Since she has been arrested] I have gone to try and see Nasrin every single Thursday, but I’ve never succeeded. Today I went with my wife’s brother and sister and they let us see her quite by accident. We had a 20 minute visit which we divided among the three of us. All of us were in line for talking to Nasrin. Nasrin said that while in prison, three judicial and security authorities, including the Tehran Prosecutor, have promised to release her, but none have kept their word. It seemed to me today that she is emphatic about continuing her protest and hunger strike and that there is no room for compromise for me to ask her to stop. Seeing her today assured me that she would not break her hunger strike if her demands are not met,” he said.
“I didn’t ask and she didn’t say anything, either. Our time was so short and this had been a surprise visit. I had a thousand questions to ask her and I wasn’t able to ask them. It was the first time her brother was seeing her after their father’s death and they were very emotional, they had a lot to talk about, and we spoke about her case at the end,” said Khandan when asked whether Sotoudeh had referred to prison torture.
“Nasrin has witnessed violations of human rights in the cases of her clients on numerous occasions before. But it seems that the situation is really bad in her own case; she didn’t expect all the bad and unfair treatment. After 2.5 months, I was only able to see her for the first time through a booth today. Why should she be treated in this inappropriate, illegal, and inhumane way? What has she done to be deprived visits with her family? Regarding our own problems [with this situation], I can say that we haven’t been able to visit her or to have telephone contact with her. We have no idea what things have happened to her in prison. For a while she didn’t even know that a case had been compiled against her in court. Up until last Tuesday, when she was able to see her lawyers, she didn’t know what was included in the case against her. A person’s human rights are violated in so many different ways through detention that it’s impossible to count. Nasrin is just one person, this happens in the cases of many people,” said Khandan, expressing concern over the delay in his wife’s case with the judge’s potential absence during the 15 November court session.
“Nasrin was so concerned about our daughter because she had cried a lot during the last visit. She asked her mother to break her hunger strike, saying she will go on a hunger strike outside the prison too. Nasrin is concerned that our daughter might get into trouble at school, but thank God, the atmosphere in the school and our neighborhood is quite positive about us and we don’t have any problems; everybody wants to know how Nasrin is,” concluded Khandan.
Prominent human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh was arrested and imprisoned at Evin prison on 4 September 2010 on charges of “acting against national security,” and “propagating against the regime.”