Iran Roundtable

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Political Prisoners Release and Rohani's UN Visit

Nasrin Sotoudeh and 10 other political prisoners freed on the eve of Rohani's visit to New YorkNasrin Sotoudeh and 10 other political prisoners freed on the eve of Rohani's visit to New York

On the eve of a visit by the Islamic Republic of Iran’s (IRI) president, Hassan Rouhani, to the United States, the Iranian authorities on Wednesday unexpectedly freed 11 of Iran’s most prominent political prisoners, New York Times reported.1

Among those released, prominent human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh was serving six years in prison for ‘endangering national security’ and ‘misusing her profession’ as a lawyer. In a telephone interview after her release, she said:
“I don’t know why they released me. I don’t know under what legal basis they released me. But I am free.2

The US State Department also released a statement welcoming the move, however, cautioned that more needs to be done to restore and expand political and social freedoms in Iran. “The United States will continue to urge the Iranian Government to take steps to improve the country’s human rights situation. Accordingly, we renew our call today for Iran to release all prisoners of conscience in its custody.”-The statement read.3

Human Rights Watch also welcomed the release, but added: "The burden is on Tehran to prove that this is more than just a symbolic gesture…If the Iranian government is truly serious about real reform it needs to take immediate and concrete steps leading to the unconditional release of hundreds of other political prisoners currently languishing in Iran's prisons. It also needs to ensure that those who are freed will not continue to suffer targeting at the hands of security forces and judicial authorities."4

Iran Roundtable also welcomes the release of the 11 political prisoners from Evin prison, however, this limited gesture should not be used as a political stunt in talks possibly underway leading up to the UN General Assembly meeting in New York where the IRI’s delegation, including its president will attend.  

In Iran under the Islamic Republic, there are hundreds of other innocent and defenceless prisoners who also need to be released immediately and unconditionally.
Iran Roundtable also draws attention to the deplorable conditions of the prisoners of consciousness from and in the areas belonging to oppressed nationalities where many political prisoners have been executed, and many others are awaiting their execution. Furthermore, IRI authorities must issue a moratorium on the execution orders of all prisoners of, until fair trials with full access to independent legal representation are provided.

As we commemorate the 25th anniversary of the mass political prisoner execution of 19885, we call upon the IRI’s authorities not only to release all prisoners of consciousness, but also to restore and expand individual freedoms and refrain from the policy of arrest and intimidation, brutally practiced in the regime’s 34 years of reign.