Following reports of the release of the leading Iranian human rights lawyer, Nasrin Sotoudeh and other political prisoners in Iran, Markus Löning, Federal Government Human Rights Commissioner, issued the following statement today (19 September 2013):
I am delighted about the release of the Iranian human rights lawyer, Nasrin Sotoudeh, and other political prisoners.
President Rohani called for more civil liberties during the election campaign and announced he wanted to work to promote freedom of expression for all Iranians.
These releases can therefore only be a first step because there are many more people still being detained illegally in Iranian prisons. I thus call upon the Iranian authorities to finally take seriously Iran’s obligations to protect human rights.
Citizens must not be arrested or sentenced because of their political or civil commitment or for expressing their opinion.
I call upon the Iranian Government to release all detainees held in Iranian prisons because of their struggle for political freedom or their religion.
According to media reports, many other political prisoners were also released on 18 September 2013 alongside the Iranian human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh including the former Deputy Foreign Minister Mohsen Aminzadeh and several journalists.
Nasrin Sotoudeh who was sentenced to eleven years imprisonment and banned from practising law for 20 years in 2011 is a close colleague of Iranian Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi. On 26 October 2012, the European Parliament awarded the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought to Nasrin Sotoudeh paying tribute to her commitment to human rights.
According to information from human rights organisations, more than 40 journalists and several hundred human rights and political activists remain in prison.