UN rights chief warns of new `crackdown` in Iran

The UN human rights chief today expressed concern about a new "crackdown" on lawyers and human rights defenders in Iran, including an attorney for a woman sentenced to death by stoning for adultery.

Updated: Nov 23, 2010, 20:47 PM IST

Geneva: The UN human rights chief today
expressed concern about a new "crackdown" on lawyers and human
rights defenders in Iran, including an attorney for a woman
sentenced to death by stoning for adultery.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi
Pillay, also highlighted the case of lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh,
who staged a hunger strike for several weeks after her arrest
on September 4, as well as several other people associated
with exiled Nobel peace laureate Shirin Ebadi.

Sotoudeh was reportedly being held in solitary
confinement in Tehran`s notorious Evin prison and appeared in
court on November 15, according to Pillay`s office.

"I am very concerned that Nasrin Sotoudeh`s case is
part of a much broader crackdown, and that the situation of
human rights defenders in Iran is growing more and more
difficult," Pillay said in a statement.

"I urge the Iranian authorities to review her case
urgently and expedite her release."

A spokesman for the High Commissioner, Rupert
Colville, said that other cases included a defence lawyer for
Sakineh Mohammadi-Ashtiani, whose pending death sentence by
stoning sparked international outrage.

The attorney, Javid Houtan Kiyan, was arrested on
October 10 "for charges that appear not to be particularly
relevant to him," the spokesman added.
Colville told AFP that conditions for people dealing
with human rights in Iran were becoming much more restrictive.

PTI