Nasrin Sotoudeh Among Those Violently Arrested, Faces Grave Danger and Re-Imprisonment

Manzar Zarabi, Who Lost Family Members on Downed Airplane, and Teacher’s Rights Advocate Masoud Zeinalzadeh Detained

October 30, 2023 – Following the beating and arrest of peaceful activists detained at the funeral yesterday of Armita Geravand, a 16-year-old who died last week after a reported violent assault by the Iranian government’s forced-hijab enforcers, the international community must urgently demand the immediate release of all those detained, as well as accountability for this outrageous violence.

Among those detained is human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh, who was severely beaten by Islamic Republic agents during the arrest, and who is at risk of re-imprisonment on a prison sentence issued against her in 2019 on sham charges. She is currently in Qarchak Prison in Tehran Province, where she has started a hunger strike while also refusing to take her medications until she is freed.

“Nasrin herself confirmed that she had been severely beaten and, during a very short phone call last night, asked me to bring her glasses,” Nasrin’s husband Reza Khandan, an activist in Iran who is also at risk of being detained for speaking publicly on the case, told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI).

“I understood that the beatings were to the head and face, and her glasses had been broken,” Khandan said. “But I couldn’t speak to her for long and didn’t fully understand the extent of her injuries and any other harm,” he said, speaking publicly on the case despite the serious danger of arrest he faces for speaking out.

“My wife currently has an open case and is on medical leave [from prison]. I highly suspect they might revoke her medical leave and force her to go back to prison. We are very concerned about this,” said Khandan.

The Fars News Agency, which is affiliated with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), accused Sotoudeh of “violating hijab rules” and claimed she would be charged with “acting against the psychological security of society,” which does not exist as a charge in Iran’s penal code.

Manzar Zarabi, whose four family members were killed in 2020 in Iran when the Revolutionary Guards downed a passenger plane that year, as well as teachers’ rights activist Masoud Zeinalzadeh, are among dozens of activists who were detained while peacefully attending Geravand’s funeral.

“Beating and arresting unarmed civilians for peacefully mourning yet another death of a young girl in state custody is a continuation of the atrocities the Iranian government is continuously inflicting upon the Iranian people,” said CHRI Executive Director Hadi Ghaemi.

“Governments should summon Iranian ambassadors to voice their outrage and join together to politically and economically isolate the Iranian government while these crimes continue,” Ghaemi added.

CHRI can confirm that Zarabi and Sotoudeh were detained for more than two hours in a state security car outside the Shahid Moghadas state security court in Evin Prison in Tehran because the women refused to be comply with the Islamic Republic’s forced hijab laws. CHRI can confirm they were then transported to Qarchak Prison for Women, where Sotoudeh remains and where Zarabi was released after becoming severely ill.

The previous night the women and several other detainees were held in the Vozara Detention Centre in Tehran, where Mahsa Jina Amini was taken before dying three days later due to reported beatings while in state custody.

“The international community must demand that Iranian authorities cease their blatant violations of the right to mourn, and the UN’s independent Fact-Finding Mission on Iran must initiate an investigation into Geravand’s death,” Ghaemi said.

“These activists were at the funeral because Iranian authorities operate with impunity, killing and detaining people including teenagers for entirely peaceful actions, like showing their hair in public, or raising their voices to demand fundamental rights,” he added.

“The international community must come together to hold Iranian officials accountable for their severe ongoing rights violations and violence against peaceful activists,” he said.

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