Nasrin Sotoudeh’s Latest Dispatch from Prison to the U.N. Is a Desperate Plea

“I ask you … to please pay close attention to the issue of executions in Iranian society, especially that of religious, ethnic minorities and women, and take necessary measures to prevent such extensive executions.”

Nasrin Sotoudeh's Latest Dispatch from Prison to the U.N. Is a Desperate Plea
(Image courtesy of NASRIN film)

Nasrin Sotoudeh, Iranian human rights attorney and staunch feminist, has represented political prisoners, religious minorities, children and women punished for not wearing hijabs. (Her incredible—and tragic—story is documented in the fiolm NASRIN, directed, produced and written by filmmaker Jeff Kaufman.)

In 2018, Sotoudeh was arrested and imprisoned for standing up for women’s rights. In January, she was transferred to Qarchak women’s prison, one of the worst prisons in the world, where she is currently being held. (“Qarchak is worse than you can imagine,” a former political prisoner told Ms. reporter Pardis Mahdavi). Almost immediately, she was infected with COVID-19, made even more dangerous due to a heart condition Sotoudeh developed after a 46-day hunger strike.

At some risk to herself and her family, Sotoudeh has written a letter to United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres sounding the alarm about rampant executions in Iran. In 2020, over 230 men, women and children were executed in Iran. In January 2021, a staggering 27 people were hung there.

Sotoudeh has asked Ms. and other media allies to release and circulate the following letter on her behalf, to appeal to the international community to speak out regarding the current spate of prisoner executions in Iran.

To The Honorable Secretary-General of the United Nations, 

I write to you from Qarchak, one of Iran’s most notorious prisons, so that my voice might, in some way, boost the efforts of the United Nations. My hope is that, in the not too distant future, we can realize even some small part of the great dreams for humanity enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

As you may be aware, in the past few months, many of our religious and ethnic minority compatriots in Iran have been executed amid the media’s silence. At dawn on Wednesday, February 17, Zahra Esmaeli, an inmate at our prison, and eight other prisoners were taken to the gallows and hanged.

You know well what predictable mistakes are often made in these numerous executions. As someone who has been closely involved in Zahra Esmaeili’s case, I am certain that she did not commit murder. I ask you, the international community, and human rights activists to please pay close attention to the issue of executions in Iranian society, especially that of religious, ethnic minorities, and women, and take necessary measures to prevent such extensive executions.

With deep respect,

Nasrin Sotoudeh
Qarchak Women’s Prison
February 2021

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