Iranian human rights defender Abdolfattah Soltani released!

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Abdolfattah Soltani, an Iranian human rights defender, was one of hundreds of people who were rounded up and imprisoned in the crackdown that followed Iran’s presidential elections.  Plain clothes Iranian security officials arrested the leading human rights activist in June along with countless others — students, opposition politicians, journalists and rights activists — and threw them in prison.

Soltani has for years stood by victims of Iran’s repression. And by putting himself in the line of fire, he too has become a target of the Iranian government crackdown.

Tens of thousands of Amnesty members took action in response to news of his arrest. And last week, Soltani was released. While we continue to have a number of concerns about human rights in Iran, we have found Soltani’s release, along with last month’s release of human rights defender Shadi Sadr, profoundly encouraging.

Amnesty members helped counter the climate of fear instilled by Iranian authorities with a spirit of hope. They sent a vital message of solidarity to Soltani and other human rights defenders like him in their hour of darkness, reminding them that they were not alone.

We sincerely thank everyone who took action on Soltani’s behalf.

Iranian Lawyer Shadi Sadr Released!

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We’re happy to bring you some good news in the case of lawyer and human rights activist Shadi Sadr.

We’ve all watched with dismay during that last 2 months as Iran has cracked down on hundreds of thousands of people who have poured into the streets to protest the contested results of June’s presidential election. Behind the scenes, Iranian authorities have conducted a campaign to silence dissident voices — like human rights lawyer Abdolfattah Soltani — through arbitrary arrests and detention.

It was as part of this campaign that Shadi Sadr was detained last month. On July 17, Sadr was walking on a road in Tehran when men in civilian clothes grabbed her and attempted to push her into a car. Sadr lost her headscarf and coat in the ensuing struggle but managed briefly to escape. She was quickly recaptured and beaten with batons, and then taken away in the car.

We are relieved to report that after more than a week in custody, Sadr was released on bail, thanks in part to appeals from Amnesty activists worldwide. Amnesty International is monitoring her situation and will issue further updates as they become available.

Iranian Lawyer and Human Rights Activist Shadi Sadr Detained in Evin Prison

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Lawyer and human rights activist Shadi Sadr has been arrested and detained by Iranian authorities. According to the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, Sadr was walking with friends to Friday Jummah prayers when she was violently confronted by a group of unidentified plain-clothed men. She was beaten with batons after attempting to escape, losing her headscarf in the process. Sadr was then pushed into an unmarked car and was subsequently driven off.

She confirmed in a phone call to her husband that she had been arrested and was detained in ward 209 of Tehran’s Evin prison. Ms. Sadr has long served as a defender of human rights issues in Iran and is a member of the Committee of Human Rights Reporters. A lawyer and journalist, she was the director of Raahi, a legal advice center for women until it was closed down. She founded Zanan-e Iran (Women of Iran), the first website dedicated to the work of Iranian women’s rights activists and has written extensively about Iranian women and their legal rights. She has represented activists and journalists, several women sentenced to execution, whose convictions were subsequently overturned.

Amnesty International has called for the unconditional and immediate release of Ms. Sadr. “This was an illegal, arbitrary and violent arrest in which no attempt was made by the authorities to show identification or provide any explanation for their action,” said Malcolm Smart, director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme.

Samah Choudhury contributed to this post