Three independent experts who report to the United Nations on human rights have condemned the ongoing persecution of human rights defenders in Iran.
“The conviction and extremely harsh sentencing of human rights defenders is an indication of mounting repression against the legitimate activities of human rights defenders and represents a serious setback for the protection of human rights in Iran,” said Ahmed Shaheed, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran in a statement.
Mr. Shaheed, along with Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers Gabriela Knaul, and Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders Margaret Sekaggya, pointed to the lengthy prison sentences of distinguished human rights defenders Narges Mohammadi, Abdolfattah Soltani and Nasrin Sotoudeh, who have received sentences of 6, 18, and 6 years respectively. Ms. Sotoudeh and Mr. Soltani have also been banned from practicing law when they are released -- she for 10 years and he for 20.
The Iranian regime’s repression of human rights defenders has also extended to Mohammad Ali Dadkhah, another prominent defense attorney. On April 28th, Mr. Dadkhah arrived in court to defend a client when the judge told him that a 9 year prison sentence he received for national security crimes had been upheld by the appeals court and that he would be soon summoned to jail. Mr. Dadkhah was also banned from practicing law for 10 years, teaching for 10 years and subject to cash fines and flogging.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has voiced deep concern over the persecution of Iranian civil society activists, including human rights defenders, at the hands of their government. “The world,” she said, “will continue to watch and will hold accountable those responsible for these actions. The United States joins the international community in affirming the universal rights to which all men and women – in Iran and around the world -- are entitled.”