INTERNATIONAL SUPPORT and political pressure are crucial for those inside Iran fighting for human rights, according to the lawyer for Abdolfattah Soltani, who yesterday was awarded the International Bar Association’s human rights award.
Mr Soltani is in Evin Prison after being charged with a number of offences, mainly arising from co-founding, along with Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi, the Defenders of Human Rights Centre. This offered legal aid and representation to those who could not afford it or found it difficult to access because of the risks involved, particularly members of religious minorities, journalists, women and student activists.
The award was received on his behalf by his daughter, Maedeh Soltani, and his lawyer, Mahnaz Parakand, both of them now living outside Iran.
Ms Soltani told The Irish Times her father’s office had been broken into and he was arrested in September of last year, when he was preparing to defend members of the Baha’i faith. He was sentenced to 13 years and is being sent to a prison 1,200km from Tehran, making it difficult for his family to visit him, she said. He was also mistreated in prison, but this abated after he received an award from the Nuremberg Human Rights Office.
In a letter read to the conference by Ms Parakand, Mr Soltani said: “The ugly truth is that the political establishment in Iran, in many cases by using a few non-independent judges, has turned the whole judicial system into a tool for implementing their own wishes. They are using these courts as a heavy hammer to suppress the legitimate and legal demands of the population.”