The imprisoned Iranian human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh ended her hunger strike on Tuesday, following the authorities’ decision to lift the travel ban on her 12-year-old daughter.
“Nasrin ended her hunger strike after 49 days,” her husband, Reza Khandan, wrote on Facebook. During the strike, he wrote that Sotoudeh was protesting because she “just wants her innocent daughter not to be persecuted by officials because of her mother.”
As a lawyer, Nasrin Sotoudeh has represented imprisoned Iranian opposition activists and politicians following the disputed June 2009 Iranian presidential elections as well as prisoners sentenced to death for crimes committed when they were minors. She was arrested in September 2010 on charges of spreading propaganda and conspiring to harm state security.
A large number of human rights activists have worked to put pressure on the Iranian government with regard to Sotoudeh’s case, which has received a lot of international attention.
Ten days into her hunger strike, Sotoudeh and imprisoned Iranian director Jafar Panahi were awarded the European Parliament Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought for not having been “bowed by fear and intimidation and who have decided to put the fate of their country before their own,” said Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament on announcing the prize.
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The international attention to the case seems to have finally paid off, although it took some time before the authorities caved in.
“We agreed to follow our purpose by going to judiciary officials. So we wrote a letter and a majority of women’s rights activists signed it,” said Maryam Parvaz, a women’s rights activist. “In the letter we declared that…she is in a critical condition,” she said, adding that the group had urged Jafari Dolatabadi, Tehran’s Attorney General, and Sadegh Larijani, head of Iran’s judiciary, to pay attention to her requests and transfer her to a hospital.
”Nasrin’s body does not accept water and her physical condition is deteriorating. She cannot control her balance and now is facing sight problem,” her husband said before the strike ended.
According to the New York Times, Sotoudeh was in a poor shape due to the hunger strike, only being able to drink water mixed with salts and sugar, dropping in weight to 43 kilograms.
Activists who worked for the government to accede to Sotoudeh demands expressed joy over the news that the strike had ended successfully.
“Women activists were so hard-working in the Iran’s Parliament. They threw supporting letters for Nasrin Sotoudeh into representatives’ rooms,” an activist, who wished to remain anonymous, said. “Today everybody hear the voice of women in the parliament. Their effort was respectable and I am so glad that I could accompany them.