Tough Time to be a Human Rights Lawyer in Iran

By Huiyu Yin

Nasrin Sotoudeh is a well-known lawyer and human rights activist in Iran. Iranian security forces arrested her and several others on their way back from a protest in October 2014. The protest was against a spate of acid attacks targeting women in the central city of Esfahan. Authorities released the others shortly after their arrest but detained Sotoudeh in an Intelligence Ministry facility in Tehran for an additional seven hours and threated to charge her with the crime of Moharebeh, or “enmity against God.” 

This was not her first arrest. In 2010, Iran’s revolutionary court sentenced her to six years in prison and a 10-year ban on practicing law. Human Rights Watch and other international press believed that the national security charges against her arose solely from her peaceful exercise of fundamental rights and zealous defense of her clients, including many human rights activists. The Iranian Bar Association’s disciplinary committee revoked her law license in 2014 to enforce the revolutionary court’s conviction. Sotoudeh believed that the ban was imposed under pressure from security, intelligence and judiciary officials.