Detained Human Rights Lawyer Writes Defiant Letter to Tehran Prosecutor
Nasrin Sotoudeh: “Women Have Decided to Rule Over Their Own Bodies”
Prominent human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh has written a stinging letter to the Tehran prosecutor condemning the sentence issued against one of her clients who was arrested for peacefully protesting Iran’s compulsory hijab law.
“Tell your judges to issue heavier triple-digit sentences and use foul language if they want, but it won’t make a difference because women have decided to rule over their own bodies and men are distancing themselves from your actions, which are an insult to their character,” Sotoudeh said in an open letter from Evin Prison addressing Tehran Prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dowlatabadi.
“The judge knew that my client had gone on a trip abroad and thought it was a good opportunity to teach others a lesson,” added Sotoudeh in the letter posted on Facebook on July 9, 2018, by her husband, Reza Khandan.
On July 8, 2018, hijab protester Shapark Shajarizadeh said she had been sentenced to two years in prison and an 18-year suspended prison term—20 years total—for the charges of “not observing Islamic hijab” and “encouraging corruption” by Branch 1089 of Tehran’s Criminal Court.
Shajarizadeh added that she didn’t feel safe in Iran anymore and had left the country.
Sotoudeh, 55, has been detained in Tehran’s Evin Prison since June 13, 2018, based on a complaint filed by a judicial official in Kashan, where her client, Shajarizadeh, was arrested for a second time on May 8, 2018, for allegedly removing her hijab in public.
Sotoudeh is facing national security charges for defending women who have taken their headscarves off in public and for criticizing the judiciary’s decision to severely restrict the right to counsel.
The defense attorney previously served three years in prison for taking on politically sensitive cases. Iran has a documented history of harassing and jailing lawyers who have defended activists, journalists and dissidents.
In her letter to Dowlatabadi, Sotoudeh doubted whether he was aware of the fact that most Iranian young people don’t support the forced hijab.
“By the way, Mr. prosecutor, what do your children think about your statements?” she wrote. “Do you know? Have you ever asked them?”