Iranian Human Rights Lawyer Stages Sit-in at Bar Association

iranian-rights-lawyer-nasrin-sotoudeh-freed-1379536266-6263Photo Credit: The Nation

Yesterday, Iranian human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh staged a sit-in outside the Iranian Bar Association office in Tehran to protest the three year ban that will prevent her from practicing law. Sotoudeh was joined by 15 other activists for human and women’s rights. Law enforcement took no action to stop the protest.

Sotoudeh was arrested in September 2010 for “acting against national security, collusion and propaganda against the regime, and membership in the Defenders of Human Rights Center.” She was sentenced to six years in prison, although she was released three years early, ahead of then-recently elected Iranian President Hassan Rouhani‘s visit to the United Nations in 2013. After she was released, the Iranian Bar Association enacted the ban on Sotoudeh’s legal practice, despite court authorizations for her to return to work.

“For years, the Iranian government has been trying to deny dissidents the right to live, the right to education and employment. I am protesting this,” Sotoudeh wrote in a Facebook post on Monday. Sotoudeh is not the only dissident to face discrimination from the Iranian authorities. A Bar Association spokesman also said Sotoudeh was not the first Iranian lawyer to have their license suspended. He added, “those that commit violations are banned.”

In addition to the ban placed on her, Sotoudeh protested a bill up for consideration by the Iranian Parliament called the Bill of Comprehensive Law of Attorneyship. The Iran Human Rights Documentation Center published a report on the bill, which is intended “to increase the supervision over the Bar Associations.” One of the amendments proposed in the bill would “subject candidates for the bar’s supervisory board to judiciary approval.” Many fear that if passed, the bill would make abuse of dissident lawyers, similar to Sotoudeh, more common.