Prominent human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh and other Iranian activists marked International Human Rights Day with renewed calls for more freedoms, equality and justice in the country, despite the Islamic Republic’s ongoing brutal crackdown on any form of dissent.
Sotoudeh participated online in a December 10 gathering organized by a coalition of human rights activists in the German city of Mainz, emphasizing the importance of upholding the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which sets out fundamental human rights to be universally protected.
“Human rights are the rights of minorities, including ethnic, racial, and religious minorities,” Sotoudeh said, adding that “Iranians have repeatedly demonstrated their opposition to the government’s policies aimed at suppressing women.”
The lawyer and former political prisoner reiterated her unwavering commitment to advocating human rights, and urged the international community to hold the Iranian government accountable for its massive abuses of basic human rights.
During the meeting, Sotoudeh shed light on the plight of the Baha’is, the largest non-Muslim religious minority in Iran, who have been persecuted since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
She cited a range of harsh methods used by Iranian authorities to persecute the Baha’is, including home raids, property confiscations and the denial of educational opportunities for members of the community.
Sotoudeh said that during her latest incarceration in Tehran’s Evin prison, she once again found herself in a cell with two Baha’i women, Mahvash Sabeti and Fariba Kamalabadi, who have been jailed for many years for their faith.
“We must not remain silent in the face of such cruelty,” Sotoudeh stated, insisting that Baha’is “should enjoy equal citizenship rights.”
International Human Rights Day coincided with the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in Oslo, during which the teenage children of Iranian human rights activist Narges Mohammadi received this year’s prize on behalf of their jailed mother.
“I am a woman prisoner who, in enduring deep and soul-crushing suffering resulting from the lack of freedom, equality, and democracy, has recognized the necessity of her existence and has found faith,” Mohammadi said in her acceptance speech read by her children, Ali and Kiana.
Mohammadi was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for keeping up the fight against the “oppression of women” in her country and for promoting “human rights and freedom for all” despite spending years behind bars.
The activist has been held in Evin prison since 2021. Her children have lived in exile for the past eight years.