September 21, 2018
When a picture of two Iranian lawyers handcuffed, shackled and wearing prison uniforms recently ran on dozens of Persian-language media outlets and platforms, it caused a storm of criticism of the Iranian authorities on social media. The two human rights lawyers, Qassem Sholeh Sadi and Arash Kaykhosravi, had been outside the parliament on Aug. 18, protesting the vetting process for electoral candidates, when they were arrested. The security forces have arrested three more lawyers since, two of whom have been released on bail.
The wave of arrests of human rights lawyers has provoked some Iranian politicians to join the chorus of people demanding fairness and justice for them. “Because the lawyers are experts in law, and the assumption is that they won’t breach the law, then they should be treated in a way that seems just to the public,” said parliament member Mohammad Reza Tabesh of the Reformist ‘Hope’ faction.
Outspoken lawmaker Ali Motahari, who serves as deputy speaker, said that he would “follow up on the issue and consult with other parliamentarians to intervene if need be.”
While President Hassan Rouhani is a lawyer himself, he has so far refrained from stepping into the debate.
Today, Iran’s lawyers face countless restrictions and obstacles in performing their work, though the Iranian constitution is clear on citizens’ rights to a fair trial, which naturally requires that lawyers be independent and unafraid to provide their clients with strong legal representation.