Southern Azerbaijan: Activists Languish in Prison After Raising their Voices Against Ethnic Discrimination
Photo Courtesy of Iran Human Rights
At least eight political prisoners in Iran have gone on hunger strike to protest the conditions of their imprisonment, demanding that their unjust prison sentences be reviewed. Three of them are Azerbaijani activists, Rasoul Razavi, Morteza Moradpour and Hossein Alimohammadi, who had all been given long prison sentences – simply for raising their voice against ethnic discrimination in Southern Azerbaijan. Tragically, Iranian officials have not only been ignoring the activists’ demands, but rather transferred some of them, including Mr Razvi and Mr Moradpour, to Gohardasht Prison in Iran’s Alborz Province, which is regarded as one of the country’s harshest jails because of its many reported cases of torture and murder.
Below is an article posted by Iran Human Rights:
At least eight political prisoners are currently on life-threatening hunger strikes in Tehran and Karaj to demand better conditions and reviews of their unjust prison sentences. Even though at least one political prisoner in Iran has died as a result of his hunger strike, judicial officials have not only ignored the worsening conditions of the hunger strikers, but in some cases also punished them for their protests.
Political prisoners Arash Sadeghi, Mehdi Rajabian and his brother Hossein Rajabian, Ali Shariati and Vahid Sayyadi Nasirpour are all currently on hunger strike in Tehran’s Evin Prison.
According to an informed source, Sadeghi, a civil rights activist, went on hunger strike in Evin Prison’s Ward 8 on October 24, 2016—the day his wife and fellow political prisoner Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee was detained and taken to Evin Prison’s Women’s Ward to begin serving her six-year prison sentence for “insulting the sacred” and “propaganda against the state.”
“Arash’s blood pressure has dropped and he has refused intravenous injections and medicine,” the source told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. “In violation of prison rules, he has been denied the right to see his wife and prison officials have told him that he will not gain visitation rights until he stops his hunger strike.”
On June 7, 2016 Sadeghi began serving a 19-year prison sentence for “assembly and collusion against national security,” “propaganda against the state,” “spreading lies in cyberspace,” and “insulting the founder of the Islamic Republic.”
Mehdi and Hossein Rajabian began a joint hunger strike on October 28, 2016. The brothers, who began serving a three-year prison sentence in June 2016 for allegedly distributing underground music, are demanding medical furlough (temporary leave) and being returned to the same prison ward they were initially placed together in at Evin Prison. On November 13 Mehdi Rajabian was transferred to the hospital after his health seriously deteriorated as a result of the hunger strike.
“The condition of both brothers has gotten worse since they began the hunger strike,” an informed source told the Campaign. “Hossein has a severe lung infection. He was in the hospital for five days before starting the hunger strike and doctors had said then that he needs further treatment. Mehdi is suffering from an illness similar to multiple sclerosis—it’s not clear. He has become very weak and can walk only with a cane.”
Shariati, a civil rights activist, began his hunger strike on October 31, 2016 when he began serving a five-year prison sentence for protesting against acid attacks on women. As of November 9 he stopped drinking liquids, making him very weak, a source told the Campaign. Shariati is protesting against his “forced return to prison to serve a sentence that has no legal basis,” according to his mother, Shayesteh-ol-Sadat Shahidi.
Mohammad Ali Taheri, the founder of the banned Erfan-e Halgheh spiritual group, went on hunger strike in Evin Prison on October 18, 2016 to demand an end to his illegal incarceration. Taheri’s five-year prison sentence for “insulting the sacred,” “immoral contact with women” and “carrying out illegal medical procedures,” ended on February 7, 2016, but he has not been freed. The authorities have concealed his location from his family since late October.
Nasiri went on hunger strike on October 16, 2016 because the Appeals Court has not yet convened to consider his appeal request—filed more than a year ago—against an eight-year prison sentence for “insulting the sacred and the supreme leader” as well as “propaganda against the state.”
Rasoul Razavi, Morteza Moradpour and Hossein Alimohammadi, all Azeri rights activists, have been sentenced to two, three and five years in prison respectively for campaigning against ethnic discrimination in East Azerbaijan Province. After being on hunger strike in Tabriz Prison for several days, Razvi and Moradpour were transferred to a prison in Karaj in Alborz Province on November 5, 2016 as punishment for their protests. Hossein Ali Mohammadi meanwhile ended his hunger strike, the Campaign has learned.
On June 10, 2011 prominent political activist and dissident Hoda Saber died from a lack of medical treatment in Evin Prison eight days after starting a hunger strike.
Political prisoners in Iran routinely receive discriminatory treatment, including denial of necessary medical treatment.