Coronavirus: Citing Crowded Prisons, Renowned Attorney Nasrin Sotoudeh’s Husband Calls for Release of Political Prisoners
Reza Khandan, a women’s rights activist and the husband of prominent imprisoned human rights attorney Nasrin Sotoudeh, has called on Iranian authorities to release his wife and other prisoners to the extent possible to protect them from contracting the potentially deadly COVID-19 coronavirus in overcrowded prisons and detention centers.
“After my detention last year, I was incarcerated with 60 people inside a 72-square-meter room,” he wrote on Facebook on February 26, 2020, referring to the time he spent in Tehran’s Evin Prison for peacefully advocating women’s rights. “The room was in a ward with 10 large and small rooms holding 250 people. The first person who enters the area without initial symptoms of the disease can immediately infect hundreds of people with the virus.”
Khandan’s post comes on the heels of an open letter signed by relatives of other political prisoners calling on Judiciary Chief Ebrahim Raisi to free their loved ones on furlough (temporary leave) until the coronavirus threat is contained.
Following is a translation of Khandan’s Facebook post provided by the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI):
The lives of prisoners are seriously in danger because of the spread of the coronavirus and the high possibility that it may reach inside prisons.
The judiciary is responsible for anything that may happen in this regard, especially considering the fact that the political prisoners are innocent and there is no reason to hold them in prison. All of them must be released.
Non-political prisoners, as many as possible, should be freed on bail until the disease is contained and sufficient arrangements made to control the entry of people infected to this virus inside prisons.
After my detention last year, I was incarcerated with 60 people inside a 72-square-meter room. The room was in a ward with 10 large and small rooms holding 250 people. The first person who enters the area without initial symptoms of the disease can immediately infect hundreds of people with the virus.
“Photo: Nasrin Sotoudeh in Evin Prison’s visitation booth in 2011.”