Nasrin Sotoudeh has been protesting her professional suspension by picketing the Bar Association building every day for nine months—and now she has won and can return to her law practice.
It was a unique victory for Sotoudeh, given that such protests are more likely cause for imprisonment than victory in the Islamic Republic.
The key was probably that she wasn’t picketing a government agency but the Bar Association, which is officially non-governmental, though it reportedly suspended her license to practice law under pressure from the Judiciary.
Sotoudeh is a lawyer specializing in human rights cases and was affiliated with the Center for the Defense of Human Rights set up by Nobel laureate Shirin Ebadi. After the 2009 post-election protests, the regime began a crackdown on everyone associated with Ebadi, who had fortunately left the country for a speaking tour the day before the elections. She has never returned.
Sotoudeh was sentenced to a six-year prison term. Her imprisonment became emblematic of regime oppression and drew substantial international interest.
Last year, she was given a furlough to visit her family but never picked up again and returned to prison—the regime’s way of admitting defeat. She had served half of her six-year sentence.
But the Bar Association was soon under pressure to withdraw her license to practice law. It suspended her license for three years. Since then, she has gone to the Bar Association every morning and paced in front of the steps with a protest placard. She is often joined by friends and supporters.
Her Facebook page now reports that the Bar Association voted last week to reduce her suspension from three years to nine months—which is the amount of time it has so far been suspended. She said she would be applying at the Association shortly for her license.