Hunger Striking Dervishes Pen Open Letter from Prison

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – After a violent raid on their sit-in last week, 12 imprisoned Dervishes who began hunger strike after being transferred to solitary confinement have written a letter outlining their demands.

According to Majzooban Noor, a website reporting on Dervish issues, the names of the 12 Dervishes are: 1. Ali Bolboli 2. Salehodin Moradi 3. Mohammad Reza Darvishi 4. Abbas Dehghan 5. Ali Mohammad Shahi 6. Mojtaba Biranvand 7. Ali Karimi 8. Jafar Ahmadi 9. Ibrahim Allahbakhshi 10. Heydar Teymouri 11. Majid Yarahmadi 12. Saeed Soltanpour.

Heydar Teymouri, Majid Yarahmadi, and Saeed Soltanpour followed suit after nine of their above comrades initiated the strike.

The first nine to go on hunger strike had previously written an open letter to make three demands of authorities: that their leader Noor Ali Tabandeh be released from house arrest in Tehran; that Dervish women be released from Gharchak Prison; and that separated Dervish prisoners be freed from solitary confinement and reunified into the same ward.

Below is the full text of the letter, translated into English by HRANA:

A leader who cares for his country will not wish to see pain afflicting his people
A country of callous leaders will never see peace and calm

For the past six months, we Dervishes have chosen the path of patience, hoping that those who oppose us will come to their senses and end the harassment and persecution of this country’s citizens, be they first-class citizens or second-class citizens like us. Instead, all we have witnessed is a rise in senselessness, a fall from judiciousness, in those who are supposed to be addressing our concerns.

For the past six months, officials and their collaborators have kept our revered master and spiritual leader, Dr Noor Ali Tabandeh, under house arrest. They have thus deprived followers of benefiting from his teachings. Our respected Dervish sisters, who have been imprisoned since February and were wounded there in June, their bodies bloodied, have been taken without trial to Gharchak Prison. In the unsanitary and disease-ridden environment of Gharchak, they are denied access to proper medical care and have been savagely attacked and beaten. Without access to a lawyer, due process, or a fair trial, they have been sentenced to years in prison and deprived of their civil rights.

When, alongside our imprisoned brothers, we staged a sit-in to protest the unfair house arrest of our leader and the ordeal of our sisters, instead of hearing our voices and heeding our demands, guards subjected us to batons, electrical shock, and tear gas.

They separated us and demonstrated that even inside the walls of the prison, they pursue the dirty politics of sowing division among Gonabadi Sufis, a group that symbolizes unity and solidarity.

Seeing that nobody hears our voice, and since the repression against Dervishes takes on a new dimension every day, we hereby announce that until the house arrest of our leader, Majzoob Ali Shah [Noor Ali Tabandeh], is lifted, and our imprisoned sisters are released, and our brothers imprisoned in Fashaouyeh (Great Tehran Penitentiary) are returned from solitary confinement and reunified in the same ward, we will remain on hunger strike. We seek the help of freedom and justice fighters in making our voice heard.

Ali Bolboli, Salehodin Moradi, Mohammad Reza Darvishi, Abbas Dehghan, Ali Mohammad Shahi, Mojtaba Biranvand, Ali Karimi, Jafar Ahmadi, Ibrahim Allahbakhshi

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