The United States says it is "closely monitoring" reports of human rights abuses in Iran, the State Department confirmed Wednesday, August 15.
"We are closely monitoring reports of numerous human rights defenders and members of minority groups, such as the Gonabadi Dervishes, who were unlawfully or arbitrarily incarcerated in Iranian regime prisons," the State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert told reporters Wednesday.
Tehran’s Revolution Court on Wednesday condemned a prominent Gonabadi Dervish, Mostafa Abdi, to more than 26-year prison. Abdi was one of the admins in charge of a website exclusively reflecting news related to the Gonabadi dervishes. Seven other dervishes were sentenced to 59 years in total by the same court.
The US also raised concerns about the detention of Narges Mohammadi, a mother of two who was recently sentenced to a total of 16 years in prison for peacefully advocating human rights reforms.
The United State has also raised concerns about the continued detention of prominent Iranian human rights lawyer Ms. Nasrin Sotoudeh, who is serving a five-year jail sentence.
"We are especially concerned about a prominent human rights lawyer named Nasrin Sotoudeh, who has been detained in Tehran Evin Prison since June 2018 and who is facing national security charges for legally representing Iranian woman who was charged for removing her headscarf in public," Nauert said.
"The Iranian regime jails people for peacefully exercising their rights, and then jails people were asked to defend them," Nauert said.
Meanwhile, the European Union has also expressed serious concerns about the continuing detention of Nasrin Sotoudeh who is currently serving a five-year jail sentence.
Sotoudeh, 55, was detained last June amid a crackdown on attorneys representing cases deemed sensitive to the Islamic Republic’s national security.
“The EU is seriously concerned about the arrest of the prominent Iranian lawyer and 2012 laureate of the European parliament’s Sakharov Prize, Ms Nasrin Sotoudeh,” an EU spokesperson told the Guardian on Wednesday.
Sotoudeh denies the charges but remains in the women’s wing of Tehran’s notorious Evin prison after refusing to post bail of $95,000 her husband Reza Khandan told the ISNA news agency.
“My wife considers the accusations against her to be baseless and made up, and the bail demand to be disproportionate,” Khandan reiterated.
“The Revolution Court, by referring to Article 510 of Islamic Penal Code, has sentenced my wife in absentia,” Khandan told Radio Farda.
Article 510 stipulates, “Anyone who, with the intent to disrupt national security or aid the enemy, recognizes and hides, or assists in hiding, spies who have a mission to gather information or cause damage to the country, shall be sentenced to six months to three years’ imprisonment.
Speaking to Radio Farda, Khandan also reminded that his wife has never been charged with espionage, therefore, the court cannot sentence her for a crime that she had not been indicted for.”
In a letter to Tehran Prosecutor Abbas Ja’fari Dolatabadi, 55-year old Sotoudeh who recently defended women arrested for publicly protesting compulsory hijab, noted, “Tell your judges to issue heavier triple-digit sentences…but it won’t make a difference because women have decided to rule over their own bodies and men are distancing themselves from your actions, which are an insult to their character.”
According to the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI), at least seven human rights lawyers have recently been detained, charged or summoned.
Tehran has not yet reacted to Heather Nauert’s latest comments. However, as a rule, the Islamic Republic’s Foreign Ministry dismisses such remarks as “motivated” and aimed to present a false image of Iran’s current situation.