As Iran's anti-government protests continue, lawyers who have pledged to provide legal aid to protesters have come under increasing pressure from the country's judiciary and security forces. Since the beginning of nationwide protests in Iran in September, activists say 16 human rights lawyers have been arrested across the country, including four recently in the country's East Azerbaijan province.
Report informs, citing the Iranian office of the Voice of America (VoA) that local sources say dozens of Azerbaijani lawyers are coming under increasing government pressure for criticizing the crackdown on demonstrations and providing legal aid to those arrested during anti-government demonstrations. The East Azerbaijan provincial bar association is allegedly also under scrutiny.
East Azerbaijan's bar association got involved early in the protests over the death of Mahsa Amini, 22, in Iran's morality police custody. Just a few weeks after nationwide protests erupted, the bar association formed a "Defense Committee" to provide legal aid to those arrested in connection with the protests.
The move was announced in mid-October by Sina Yousefi, an Azerbaijani attorney and the vice chairman of the Human Rights Commission of the bar association. In a social media post, he claimed more than 1,700 people had been arrested in connection with the protests that took place in the city of Tabriz.
Three days later, Iranian security forces arrested Yousefi and then detained three other local lawyers in Tabriz. The lawyers were released on bail after two to six weeks in custody.
The increasing pressure on lawyers who are willing to defend people facing protest-related charges in Iranian courts can mean detainees do not have a lawyer of their choice or they have no attorney at all.