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Iran: Mass Hunger Strike of Prisoners of Conscience Under Silence of The International Community

28 Jul 19
Iran: Mass Hunger Strike of Prisoners of Conscience Under Silence of The International Community

Iran Human Rights (IHR); July 28, 2019: During the past few months, several prisoners of conscience have gone on hunger strike due to deteriorating prison conditions. But their desperate cry for help has come in the shadow of the escalating tension in the Persian Gulf. The Iranian authorities ignore the prisoners’ just demands and the international community remain silent. in Iran. Iran Human Rights (IHR) calls for the urgent attention of the international community to the condition of imprisoned activists and human rights defenders in Iran.
IHR director, Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam, said: “hunger strike is a desperate way and the last option these prisoners have in order to attract the attention of the authorities and international community to the inhumane conditions in the Iranian prisons. The recent wave of hunger strikes shows that the political prison conditions are getting worse. Unfortunately, their voices are not heard as all the international attention is focused on the tension in the Persian Gulf.” 
“We urge the international community, namely the UN and European countries, to end their silence and react to the violation of human rights in Iran.”

During the past few months, several prisoners of conscience have gone on hunger strike in the different Iranian prisons. Worsening the condition of the prisons they are being held is among the reasons. However, the Iranian prisons authorities have largely ignored their protest. Of note, most of these prisoners are sentenced to imprisonment for the peaceful expression of their beliefs. 

Soheil Arabi announced his hunger strike on June 15, 2019. The reason was the murder of 21-year-old political prisoner Alireza Shir-Mohammad-Ali in Greater Tehran Central Penitentiary (known as Fashafoyeh Prison). The latter was stabbed to death by two death-row prisoners on June 10, 2019. Soheil Arabi demands separation of prisoners of conscience from those who charged with murder or other serious crimes. Instead of considering Soheil’s rightful demands, authorities arrested his mother on July 22 to put more pressure on him. 

Imprisoned civil activist Sepideh Gholian announced her hunger strike on July 23. According to a letter Sepideh sent to her brother from Qarchak women prison, “the horrible condition of prisoners in Qarchak prison, constant threats by the guards, lack of safety, poor hygiene and shortage of tab water” was her reasons for the hunger strike. 

Amirhossein Mohammadifar, an imprisoned member of the editorial board of Gaam Magazine, went on hunger strike on July 4, 2019, in protest to unfair treatment of himself, his wife and other co-defendants by judicial and security officials. His wife, Sanaz Allahyari, ended her hunger strike on July 15 following the deterioration of her health. However, Amirhossein is still on hunger strike at the time of publishing this report. They were arrested along with some other journalists and activists for defending the right of the workers of Haft Tappeh Sugarcane Agro-industrial Complex.
In Urmia Central Prison, prisoners Bashir Pirmavaneh and Rahmi Turgut, went on hunger strike on July 22. According to HRANA, Bashir protests the decision by Iranian authorities not to grant him a furlough. Rahmi, a Turkish national, protest the decision by Iranian authorities not to send him back to Turkey.

Mostafa Sabzi and Ghader Salimi are also among the prisoners at Urmia Central Prison who announced their hunger strike on July 23, 2019. They want to be sent to a prison at their home towns. Holding prisoners at prisons remote from their hometown is another way of putting them and their families under pressure as visits become difficult.

In Evin prison, Prisoners Hossein Sarlak, Morteza Nazari Sedehi, Mohsen Aminpour, Reza Baz Azadeh, Behrouz Zare and Reza Mohammadhosseini, went on hunger strike on July 15. On the following day, all of them were transferred to an unknown place. On July 25, HRANA reported that they ended the hunger strike after 11 days. 
Hossein Sepanta, Zaratostrian prisoner held in Shiraz Adel Abad Prison, went on hunger strike on April 21 in protest to the rejection of issuing a prison furlough for him. Sources told Iran Human Rights (IHR) that his health condition deteriorated and his friends in prison insisted him to end his hunger strike.