A group of political prisoners held at Iran’s Rajaei-Shahr prison have gone on hunger strike.
On Sunday 10 April, a group of political prisoners at Rajaei-Shahr prison in Karaj city began a collective hunger strike to protest the continued denial of the right to visits, phone calls and furlough.
The dissidents on strike include veteran journalist and activist Keyvan Samimi, labour activist, Mansour Osanlou, Rasoul Bedaghi, of the Iranian Teacher’s Association, journalists Issa Saharkhiz and Reza Rafiei, political activists Heshmatollah Tabarzadi and Behrouz Javid Tehrani, and student activists, Ali Ajami and Majid Tavakoli, Mehdi Mahmoudian and Jafar Eghdami.
In a statement released by the inmates, the signatories stated their strike was “in protest against the summons, arrests, threats and the pressures on the families of imprisoned” activists including union leaders, human rights activists and political dissidents.
The Rajaei-Shahr prisoners had also expressed solidarity with Fakhrossadat Mohtashamipour, wife of jailed reformist politician Mostafa Tajzadeh. However five days into the strike, Mohtashamipour was released from prison on Thursday after enduring 45 days of solitary confinement. She had been arrested while attending pro-opposition protests in Tehran on 1 March. The vocal activist and member of the Islamic Iran Participation Front had been on hunger strike in Evin prison to demand a personal visit with her husband, a wish that came true shortly before her release from Evin prison today.
According to opposition website Tahavolesabz, Mohtashamipour’s furlough will be three days long.
The inmates on strike have vowed to continue with their protest until “a change in the behaviour of the security and judiciary executives towards prisoners and their families.”
Parvaneh Osanlou wife of Mansour Osanlou, the head of the independent Syndicate of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company has expressed her concerns about the well-being of her husband on hunger strike. “Mansour Osanlou suffers from a heart condition and a hunger strike can further deteriorate his already poor health condition. Tehran’s Prosecutor General Jafari Dolat-Abadi has objected to a medical leave every single time.”
The leading trade-union activist who has been imprisoned several times during the past seven years, has been in prison since in July 2007.
Abdolkarim Lahiji, the Paris-based vice president of the International Federation of Human Rights Leagues, told Radio Farda on April 13 that the prisoners want to express their protest against unjust sentences as well as poor prison conditions.
“Even though these prisoners had done nothing against the law — even the Islamic Republic law — they were given harsh sentences,” Lahiji said.
The mother of Mahdi Mahmoudian, the journalist who exposed the post-election abuses and killings at Kahrizak Prison is also extremely troubled by her son’s worsening health condition. Since his arrest close to two years ago, Mahmoudian has not been granted a single day of leave despite having reportedly suffered a heart attack at Rajaei-Shahr prison in early 2011.