FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Washington, DC – The National Iranian American Council welcomes today’s release of 11 Iranian prisoners of conscience, including human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh. NIAC reiterates its call for all Iranian prisoners of conscience to be released, including Mir Hossein Mousavi, Mehdi Karoubi, and Zahra Rahnavard.
“Today’s action is a welcome move that many have been calling for since 2009 but which some feared was impossible,” said NIAC President Trita Parsi. “The opportunity that now exists to improve both human rights inside Iran and relations between Iran and the U.S. is clearer than ever, and it is imperative for all sides to seize this moment.”
With the recent spate of hopeful gestures and actions by both Iran and the U.S., NIAC continues to urge that the United States and Iran to enter into substantive negotiations on all issues of concern, including human rights, regional concerns, and the nuclear issue.
“Rouhani is sending a message to the West that he has the domestic political capital right now to deliver on his promises, but this capital will not exist forever in the face of hardline opposition,” said NIAC Policy Director Jamal Abdi. “The U.S. response to today’s action will be watched very closely and if Rouhani can show that positive actions beget positive responses, he will have more room for compromise.”
Sotoudeh was one of many prisoners of conscience detained by authorities in 2009 in the aftermath of post-election protests. Her case had been been raised by the UN special rapporteur on human rights in Iran, prominent organizations working on human rights, and the Obama White House and State Department. NIAC has repeatedly called for Sotoudeh’s release.