Nasrin Sotoudeh is an Iranian human rights lawyer who has been in and out of prison since 2010 for no other reason than defending men, women and children who suffered under the oppressive Iranian regime. Her clients included opposition politicians, journalists, abused women and children, women who were arrested for not wearing the hijab and prisoners on death row for crimes they allegedly committed when they were minors. On several occasions she went on extended hunger strikes to protest against the severity of the prison regime.
High-profile figures and organisations have spoken up for her and her one-time colleague, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi said of her: “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 received numerous awards including the prestigious European Parliament Sakharov Prize in 2012, which she shared with Iranian film director Jafar Panahi.
Following Nasrin Sotoudeh’s latest arrest, which occurred in 2018, she was handed a set of lengthy prison sentences.
UN-aligned is proud to declare Nasrin Sotoudeh its Person of the Year. In so doing, we also wish to draw attention to all the other people like her who are languishing in prison cells around the world merely for striving for a fairer and freer society. Human and animal rights activists, environmental protectors, journalists, lawyers, politicians… anyone who is behind bars as a result of a struggle for a better world: we salute you! You have not been silenced. Your message is loud and clear and we will amplify it with the utmost of our abilities, while not forgetting the struggle to set you free.