Saturday, September 21, 2013
"You are free!"
These are three liberating and incredible words that Nasrin Sotoudeh will not soon forget!
The 49 year-old world renowned human rights attorney finally walked out of Evin Prison on Wednesday, September 18 after spending over three years in captivity. Besides Nasrin, ten other political prisoners were also released in a bold move by the Iranian government coming one week before President Rouhani's historic meeting at the United Nations in New York City.
In a brief interview shortly after her release, Nasrin Insisted that her goals haven't changed and that she would continue her work in restoring justice and defending the rights of protesters.
Nasrin had been sentenced to 11 years in prison with a 20 year ban on her legal practice and a 20 year restriction against traveling abroad for "acting against national security."
Prior to her imprisonment, Nasrin had publicly spoken out against the unjust practice of child executions in Iran and
Just one year ago, the bold and courageous human rights defender staged a 40 day hunger strike in Evin prison protesting the traveling restrictions against her 13 year old daughter Mehraveh and won!
After worldwide media attention and intense suffering, the prison officials finally removed the restrictions and restored her visiting privileges with her family.
When I heard the news about Nasrin's release, I rejoiced! For more than a year on my Facebook page, I posted the latest developments about her imprisonment, urging people to speak out and pray for her. I truly believe the Lord honored all of our praying and speaking out, resulting in her freedom. In my book, "The Rose of Nowruz," Nasrin Sotudeh is listed on the dedication page as one of Iran's women freedom fighters for human rights.
While I rejoice in the release of Nasrin and the other political prisoners, I can't help to step back a moment and pause in the midst of this celebration. Once again, I believe Iran is playing politics with the lives of human beings! They promise freedom but there is a price! It's no accident that the release of these political prisoners is conveniently timed to Rouhani's visit to the United Nations. U.N. special Rapporteur, Ahmed Shaheed, has been investigating the flagrant abuses of human rights in Iran and has extensive documentation that is embarrassing to the regime and their image to the western world. What better way to restore that damaged image than to suddenly have a change of heart by releasing political prisoners before the visit! In doing this Iran hopes to repair their image and announce to the world that they are willing to bring real reform.
Make no mistake! Rouhani is merely a pawn on the political chess board. Iran's Supreme Leader has the final word, not the president. Rouhani is a clever diplomatic strategist sent to paint a new picture, a new image on the face of Iran. Iran is suffering economically from the international sanctions and is strategically making moves for their own benefits. Don't fall for the deception that Iran suddenly cares about the value of human rights! They care about their own pocketbook!
Inspite of all of the political deception involved with the convenient release of prisoners, I truly am happy for Nasrin's freedom. She is finally home once again with her beautiful family.
Yet my heart is still sad! My dear friend Saeed Abedini still remains behind bars! Why wasn't Saeed one of the prisoners released? I thought deeply about this question. If Rouhani should meet with President Obama at the United Nations, wouldn't the release of Saeed, an American citizen, be the ultimate bargaining chip for restoring relations with the United States once again?
I can't comprehend what's in the mind of the Iranian regime! Its so sad and disgusting to play politics with the lives of human beings.
In the midst of this political game playing, I take comfort in the promises of Scripture. God doesn't play games with the lives of people! He has no political motivation or deception in mind. The lives of human beings are precious to Him!
He promises to "rescue the poor when they cry to Him and help the oppressed who have no one to defend them." (Psalm 72:12).
The lives of human beings are precious to God. He promises to redeem them from oppression and violence.
The lord heard all of our prayers and freed Nasrin. I know one day very soon he will do the same for Saeed. Our lives are precious to Him!