Friday, October 08, 2010



Last week more that 400 activists in Iran signed a petition demanding the release of Iranian lawyer 
Nasrin Sotoudeh.  

Instead of being released she enters the twelfth day of a hunger strike.

Ms. Sotoudeh, who has defended many of those the Iranian government doesn't much care for was arrested on 4 September after being summoned to a court at the notorious Evin prison. In addition, a week prior to her arrest, her home and workplace had been inspected, following which she was summoned to court for charges such as “acting against national security” and “propagating against the Islamic Republic.”

Sotudeh has also been an activist for the rights of women and children as well as a human rights lawyer who has been at the forefront of the fight against the execution of children under the age of eighteen in Iran. 

Nobel Peace Laureate and Iranian lawyer, Shirin Ebad says“Ms. Sotoudeh is one of the last remaining courageous human rights lawyers who has accepted all risks for defending the victims of human rights violations in Iran. She represented many of those who were arrested after the election, and though she was repeatedly threatened by security officers that if she continued her defense work she was going to be arrested, she responded that every individual is entitled to have access to a lawyer, and that her work was in accordance with the law. She refused to oblige the illegal demands of security officials and continued her honorable work. She accepted most her cases pro bono,” Ebadi told the Campaign.
“Unfortunately, the Iranian government is daily tightening its stranglehold on defenders of human rights. They could not tolerate this woman’s courage and arrested her. Since her arrest, they did not even accept her release on bail in order for her attend her father’s funeral service, and all this time she has not been able to visit with her family or lawyer,” said the 2003 Nobel Peace Laureate.
Since her arrest, her husband Reza Khandan and her lawyer Nasim Ghanavi have been warned against speaking up publicly about her ordeal. Reza Khandan has even been summoned for interrogation in Branch 1 of the Revolutionary Court, which he has described as a “series of threats”.
Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, the International Commission of Jurists, the International Federation for Human Rights, the Iranian League for the Defense of Human Rights (LDDHI), the Union Internationale des Avocats, and the World Organization Against Torture have all condemned her arrest and imprisonment.
The persecution of defense lawyers in Iran is a growing trend in the Islamic Republic of Iran.
The following is from Ms. Magazine.

Jailed Iranian Human Rights Lawyer on Hunger Strike

Prominent jailed Iranian human rights lawyer, Nasrin Sotoudeh, confirmed in a short telephone conversation with her husband, that she is on the twelfth day of a hunger strike.

Sotoudeh, who defended many political activists and campaigners in Iran's presidential elections last year, has been held in Tehran's Evin Prison since September 4, 2010, after police forces allegedly attacked her house and arrested her in front of her husband and children charges of "acting against state security" and "propaganda against the Islamic Republic," according to Amnesty International.

Nobel Laureate Shirin Ebadi and a group of human rights organizations, including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, and others, have called for the immediate and unconditional release of Sotoudeh in a joint statement last week. Ebadi has also expressed deep concern about Sotoudeh's health during the hunger strike, according to theNobel Women's Initiative.

Media Resources: Deutsche Welle 10/6/10; Amnesty International 10/1/10; Nobel Women's Initiative


nighty night Boyd

Boyd K. Packer, president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, got some comeuppance yesterday.

Activists estimated that over 4,5000 people dressed in black to symbolize the loss of young, gay Mormons to suicide, protested the leader's remarks by laying outside The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' (the Mormons) Salt Lake City headquarters, the Salt Lake Tribune reported.

The protest was organized by PrideInUtah blogger and gay rights activist Eric Ethington.

“Tonight, we are symbolic of all the children who have been killed by messages like Boyd K. Packer's,” Ethington said. “When you hear nothing from [church leaders] but that you are nothing but evil and you need to change the unchangeable nature of yourself, that is only a message kids can take for so long.”

Concerned that Packer doesn't have anything to read, Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign announced that they are headed to Utah to deliver over 100,000 letters to Boyd K Packer and the Mormon church, demanding that Packer retract his dangerous comments.

You may remember Pakcer's homophobic remarks reported right here in the Oread Daily earlier this week.  If not, check em out for yourself.  I've better things to do then repeat them yet again here.

The following is from the Utah Chronicle and has lots of pretty pictures.

Crowd protests Packer's talk

By Andreas Rivera
Packer Protest 1 RGB.jpg
Packer Protest 2 RGB.jpg

Black figures surrounded Temple Square Thursday night, protesting remarks by Boyd K. Packer, president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, concerning homosexuality.

Eric Ethington, the founder of Pride in Utah, started organizing the protest last Sunday, the day Packer spoke at the LDS Church's Semiannual General Conference. The protest was announced Monday morning, Ethington said.

The protest started at about 7 p.m., drawing about 4,500 people, organizers said. The group, all clothed in black-to honor gays who have committed suicide- started in City Creek Park and began flooding State Street, crossing over to the Church Office Building and surrounding Temple Square.

Salt Lake City Police closed off the section of State Street so that protesters could cross. Police were stationed at every corner and entrance to ensure the protest was kept peaceful and non-violent.

The entire perimeter of Temple Square was encircled with the protesters by 7: 30 p.m.  

"When I saw there was an invite to this protest, I jumped on it," said Miaka Hole, a protester. "To be able to support others with the support that I never had, but that I'm getting now, and just to see how many people are here,-it's phenomenal."

Much controversy was sparked by Packer's speech when he said that homosexuality is a behavior that was immoral and could be changed.

"I was happy to see the protest," said Luke McFarland, a protester and former member of the LDS Church. "(Packer's remarks are) so contrary to what science actually says."

The news of the speech has been coupled by some with the recent death of Tyler Clementi, a freshman at Rutgers University, who committed suicide after his sexual encounter with another man was streamed online by a roommate.

"In light of the recent events of homosexuals killing themselves, his comments really struck me," said Lauren Kimball, a protester who came with a group of friends. "They're encouraging that kind of behavior and bullying, so that's why I'm out here."

Kimball was a student at BYU, but will soon be transferring to the U, she said.

For others, the events struck close to home.

"I've lost 10 of my friends this year," said Kristina Bergstrom, a protester.

Some of the protesters were members or former members of the LDS Church, but disagreed with Packer's message.

"It didn't really sit right with me, because I think we should accept everyone for who they are and I don't think it's a choice," said Megan Parker, a protester and a Mormon.
This is not about freedom of religion, Ethington said.

"While we respect the right of Boyd Packer to say what he said, there are consequences to his words," he said.