One afternoon, on a late spring day in 2018, a bunch of officers from the Iranian Prosecutor’s Workplace and the Ministry of Intelligence got here and arrested me whereas I used to be dwelling alone. They took me to Evin Jail in a inexperienced taxi. In absentia, I had been sentenced to 5 years in jail for my work as a girls’s rights and human rights lawyer. A number of months later, seven extra expenses had been added, and I used to be given a complete of over 33 years in jail plus 148 lashes. The heaviest of those sentences was 12 years for “selling immorality and indecency.”
At the moment, I’m within the girls’s ward which consists of three rooms and forty inmates. Most have been arrested for political causes. The occupants of Evin Jail’s girls’s ward are human proper activists, girls’s rights activists, civil and environmental activists, spiritual minorities and mystics, members of labor actions, and people with twin citizenship who’re accused of spying.
I spend my days exercising, making crafts, studying and having group discussions, moreover attending to my very own private chores. Sundays are visitation days and if I’m not forbidden from visits, I can see my household.
In jail, I generally supply restricted courses about human rights points to those that have an interest, however primarily, I preoccupy myself with studying and instructing others about fact and reconciliation commissions in different nations.
Not one of the Ladies of Enghelab Road, , the ladies who protested Iran’s obligatory hijab regulation by publicly eradicating their headscarves and waving them on a stick, are right here. However a number of of my cellmates are the younger girls who on Worldwide Lady’s Day final yr went onto the subway in Tehran, spoke to passengers, and handed out flowers. In one other transfer, this group had supported me by holding up my photos within the subway. Due to this, they obtained heavy sentences, which deepens my sense of accountability.
Iran is a rustic the place violations of girls’s rights are systemic. This makes it much more necessary to honor and commemorate Worldwide Girls’s Day.
On this present day, I’m serious about the years which have handed. The years of our silence and captivity; years of protest, bondage and the partitions behind which we’re trapped. Nevertheless, I additionally am serious about this yr — a yr of tragedy and sickness for Iranian folks. It’s the consequence of hostility and enmity coming again round to us. I preserve wanting again and reviewing the trail we’ve taken. The place did we go mistaken? Why didn’t we succeed? Why couldn’t our authorities govern correctly? Why didn’t we all know how to withstand successfully and peacefully?
On this Worldwide Girls’s Day, as a lethal virus sickens my nation, I throw my arms down and as a citizen, in a mild voice, I ask the federal government to finish their animosity with the world, to have a look at the world by means of the eyes of peace and to belief life and human beings. I ask human proper activists to assist us in our peaceable endeavor.
I particularly prolong my hand to Americans. Our governments have been rivals for years, with little regards for us. On this present day of March 8, I additionally ask each Iranian all over the world to assist us in our pursuit of peace, this basic facet of survival. Blissful Worldwide Girls’s Day.
Sotoudeh is without doubt one of the Iranian girls’s rights activists featured in “40 Million,” a brief documentary from director Jeff Kaufman for TIME. It may be considered on the prime of this web page.