'Enemies of the State': Iran's Crackdown on Human Rights Lawyers is Ramping up

In this photo provided by the Iraqi government, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, right, and Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr hold a press conference in the heavily fortified Green Zone in Baghdad, Iraq, early Sunday, May 20, 2018. Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, whose coalition won the largest number of seats in Iraq's parliamentary elections, says the next government will be "inclusive." The May 12 vote did not produce a single bloc with a majority, raising the prospect of weeks or even months of negotiations to agree on a government. (Iraqi Government via AP)

Iran is continuing their civil rights crackdown as a new spate of sentencing and punishment has been handed down against several human rights lawyers and activists.


Amnesty International reports that most recently Iranian human rights lawyer Amirsalar Davoudi was sentenced to 111 lashes and 30 years in prison. Part of Davoudi’s punishment comes as a direct result of an internet channel he set up to report on human rights violations by the Iranian regime.

Amnesty International’s Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa, Philip Luther called the sentence an “outrageous injustice” and issued a public statement demanding Davoudi’s immediate release.

Amirsalar Davoudi is blatantly being punished for his work defending human rights.

Setting up a Telegram channel to expose human rights violations is not a crime. The Iranian authorities must release Armisalar Davoudi immediately and unconditionally.

Amirsalar Davoudi is the latest victim of a vicious crackdown waged by the Iranian authorities against human rights lawyers over the past two years, which has seen Iranian courts hand out increasingly harsh sentences to stop them from being able to carry out their work.

With this sentence, Iran’s authorities have demonstrated that human rights lawyers in Iran today are effectively treated as enemies of the state and that the authorities will go to any lengths to deny individuals in detention access to justice.

Davoudi has been in prison since his arrest in November of 2018. His wife made the announcement of his sentencing on Twitter. The charges lobbied by the regime included “insulting officials”, “insulting the Supreme Leader” and “spreading propaganda against the system”. The most severe charge came in relation to his internet channel – “forming a group with the purpose of disrupting national security”.


Davoudi’s arrest comes on the heels the shocking sentencing of women’s rights advocate Nasrin Sotoudeh, who received 38 years in prison and 148 lashes.

In recent years, Iranian courts have handed out increasingly harsh sentences against human rights lawyers. Another lawyer, Mohammad Najafi, was sentenced to a total of 17 years in prison and 74 lashes in three separate cases. Other lawyers who have either been arrested or have faced prosecution since January 2018 include Arash Keykhosravi, Ghassem Sholeh-Sa’di, Farokh Forouzan, Mostafa Daneshjoo, Mostafa Tork Hamadani, Payam Derafshan and Zeynab Taheri.

It is difficult to imagine a human being surviving the amount of lashes both Sotoudeh and Davoudi have been sentenced to receive. Amnesty International says the sentences violate international agreements on the use of torture and have called for EU nations and leaders around the world to condemn Iran and urge them to release their political prisoners.





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