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Armenian Human Rights Activists Call For Iranian Colleague’s Release


Armenia -- A protest near the Iranian embassy in Yerevan. 19 March, 2019

A number of human rights activists in Armenia have joined the open letter of Amnesty International calling on the Iranian authorities to release Iranian human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh.

Today they held a silent protest in front of the Iranian embassy in Yerevan.

Sotoudeh, the co-winner of the European Parliament’s 2012 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, last year represented several of the women detained for removing their head scarves in public to protest against the country’s Islamic dress code.

She has reportedly been sentenced to a total of 38 years in prison and 148 lashes after what Amnesty International called two “grossly unfair” trials.

The 55-year-old activist was arrested in June and ordered to serve a five-year sentence imposed on her in absentia in 2016.

And in February, the Iranian authorities allowed Sotoudeh to read the verdict in her most recent court case, which showed that she had been convicted of seven charges and sentenced to an additional 33 years in prison and 148 lashes, London-based Amnesty International said on March 14.

Armenian human rights activist Arman Gharibian told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service that he did not know whether the Yerevan protest could change anything. “But one thing is clear: we cannot remain indifferent when this kind of repression against a human rights activist takes place in the neighboring country,” he said.

Iranian-Armenian Vardges Gaspari, who is a prominent activist in Armenia, said he was raising his voice to “encourage the jailed activist morally.” “So that she can feel that she is not forgotten, that there are people, even if few, who are concerned about her fate,” the activist added.

The protesters in Yerevan tried to hand over a letter, stating their protest, to the Iranian embassy staff, but no one came out to take it. Eventually, they had to put the letter into the mailbox placed at the entrance to the embassy.

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