National Lawyers Guild Urges the Release of Human Rights Defenders in Iran

Statement of support for the safe release Iran’s human rights defenders

The National Lawyers Guild expresses its support and solidarity with Iran’s human rights defenders who have been prosecuted and/or arrested due to their human rights activities. The National Lawyers Guild is especially concerned for the well being of Nasrin Sotoudeh, a colleague of Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Shirin Ebadi, whose health is quickly deteriorating from three separate hunger strikes undertaken to protest her lack of due process.

The National Lawyers Guild also urges the release of human rights lawyer, Mohammad Oliyafar who suffers from leukemia and was sentenced to one year prison for publicizing the case of his clients. The National Lawyers Guild condemns the systematic persecution of the founders and members of the Defenders of Human Rights Center, including the nine-year prison sentence dealt to Mohammad Seifzadeh, co-founder of the DHRC, and Mohammad Ali Dadkhah and Abdolfattah Soltani for establishing DHRC.

We call upon the Islamic Republic of Iran to adhere to the standards set-forth by the UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, which states that lawyers must be allowed to carry out their work "without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference." It also recognizes that lawyers are entitled to freedom of expression, including "the right to take part in public discussion of matters concerning the law, the administration of justice and the promotion and protection of human rights."

As peers of Iran’s detained human rights defenders, the National Lawyers Guild urges that

  1. The Islamic Republic of Iran to immediately and unconditionally release Nasrin Sotoudeh, all detained human rights defenders, and prisoners of conscience, and recognize that the world will hold the IRI accountable for the well-being of Nasrin Sotoudeh and all prisoners of conscience.

  2. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay publicly call on the Islamic Republic to unconditionally release Nasrin Sotoudeh and other human rights defenders.

  3. The world’s governments and authorities work with their colleagues and appropriate bodies to ensure Nasrin Sotoudeh’s release and to call on Iran to end its persecution of human rights defenders.

The National Lawyers Guild hopes in the coming days, the appropriate steps will be taken to remedy the dire situation of human rights defenders in Iran.

David Gespass

National Lawyers Guild President