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Four Hundred Iranian Activists Issue Statement Expressing Grave Concern about the Health of Seventeen Prisoners of Conscience on Hunger Strike

Sunday 8 August 2010


Change for Equality: Nearly 400 social, political and cultural activists and journalist have issued a statement requesting that the 17 prisoners on hunger strike break their fast. The petition expresses concern for the health of the 17 individuals on hunger strike and their family members who joined them in this hunger strike. Those petition asks these prisoners of conscience to preserve their physical strength and wellbeing, “because their country needs them.” The 17 prisoners went on hunger strike to protest unsuitable conditions in prison more than 14 days ago. Specifically they were objecting to the negative treatment they were receiving from prison officials, and lack of observance of the legal rights of prisoners in Ward 350. Those protesting were transferred to Solitary Confinement in Ward 240. After their transfer to Solitary Confinement these prisoners went on hunger strike. The petition issued today also demands that officials observe the human rights of the prisoners, ensure their safety and wellbeing in prison and take measures to ensure the observance of their rights as prisoners. Those signing the petition have also announced that government officials are responsible for the health and wellbeing of the prisoners on strike.

The translation of the text of the petition appears below.

Civil, Political and Cultural Activists Express their Grave Concern: The Lives of those on Hunger Strike are in Danger!

More twelve days have passed since seventeen young and brave Iranians, currently imprisoned in Section 350 of Evin Prison, have gone on hunger strike to protest further injustices imposed on the prisoners of this Ward. They have shut their lips on food, so that perhaps others who are freer to speak, will break the silence, relaying their outcry to the world. The lives of the children of this land are in danger. Seventeen prisoners, incarcerated for advocating for social, political and civil justice, have protested unsuitable conditions in prison by going on hunger strike. Among them are journalists and bloggers, whose through their writings had informed us, providing information and analysis on news developments in our country. Among them are students who like all children of this land, had gone to university in the hopes of serving our country. Among them are civil and human rights activists who had worked tirelessly to uphold human dignity and rights in our country. Among them are political activists who felt the pain of our nation, and took up the tasks of fighting for and ensuring justice.

Now seventeen of our friends remain alone in Evin. Following the injustice they have endured, and with no hope for a fair response and remedy from judicial and security officials, they are welcoming death to their bodies so that maybe in this way, their outcry against this injustice is heard! Their families and some of their mothers and spouses have also joined them in a hunger strike.

Latest news reports tell of deteriorating physical conditions of a few of the prisoners on hunger strike as well as some of their mothers who are also on hunger strike.

We, the undersigned, are a collection of social, political and cultural activists and Iranians who are simply concerned about the well-being of these prisoners who have endured great pains. The detainees and their distressed families have yet to get a response about the continuous breach of their legal rights. We would like to ask the detainees and their families to please break their hunger strike, while reserving the right to an answer to their righteous demands. We request that, just as their souls have stood strong in the face of injustice, to allow their bodies to remain strong in this path as well. We request that they preserve their precious lives for our dear country, Iran. We ask them not to shatter hope with their broken bodies; we ask them to stay alive.

Our request does not mean that we do not stand with them in this path. It is because we want their valuable lives to remain safe and sound for themselves, for their families and for our country.

We would also like to address all responsible officials in Iran, and especially those in the Judiciary. Despite a whole year of injustice inflicted on many people, all that has come from you has been either a condescending silence or a continuation of threats. Just a short while ago, prison guards responded to the demands of detainees of ward 350 with a threat that they will "turn Evin into another Kahrizak."

Where should we place our hope? Which court will provide justice when no one is responding to those who have lost their children, spouses, or relatives in the street or in prison; when prisoners and their families are kept waiting indefinitely and when sentences that are issued are so unjust that one cannot find their equivalent in any other judicial system? With all the violence and continuous breach of rights, with executions and prison, with threats and arrests, where should we seek justice before it is too late? Although an expectation of justice and fairness appears to be an out of reach dream, yet only because the lives of our beloved youth are still in your hands, we ask you to try to preserve these precious lives. Return them safe and sound to their families, in the same condition they were when you arrested them. We ask you and we warn you not to ruin the future of this generation of Iranians by endangering the lives of its best off springs. Don’t burn all the bridges. Let us believe in the possibility of shared prosperity for all in Iran.

***Note:

It should be noted that those reported on hunger strike are:

1. Ali Malihi, student activist and member of the Student Alumni Organization;

2. Bahman Ahmadi Amouie, journalist;

3. Hossein Nouraninejad, journalist and member of the reformist party Participation Front;

4. Abdullah Momeni, student activist and spokesperson for the Student Alumni Organization;

5. Ali Parviz, student activist;

6. Hamid Reza Mohammadi, political activist;

7. Jafar Eghdami civil society activist;

8. Babak Bordbar, Photographer;

9. Zia Nabavi, Student banned from continuing his studies;

10. Ebrahim (Nader) Babaie, civil society activist and an injured veteran of the Iran-Iraq war;

11. Koohyar Goudarzi, human rights activist and weblogger;

12. Majid Dori, student activist;

13. Majid Tavakoli, student activist;

14. Keyvan Samimi, journalist;

15. Qolamhossein Arashi, arrested during the Ashura protest in Tehran;

16. Payman Karimi arrested during the Ashura protests in Tehran; and

17. Mohammad Hossein Sohrabi Rad, political prisoner arrested in relation to his follow-up activities regarding death and torture in Kahrizak prison and sentenced to four years in prison and 74 lashes—he was a member of Karoubi’s Election Campaign team.

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