Human Rights Activist News Agency (HRANA)- Farhad Meysami, who was arrested and transferred to Ward 209 of Evin Prison on July 31, 2018, has been on hunger strike since August 1st. He faces charges of “Collusion and conspiracy to threaten national security”, “Disseminating propaganda against the regime,” and “Insulting the hijab, an essential sacrament of Islam” from Branch 7 of Evin Court.
Reza Khandan, husband of Nasrin Sotoudeh, the human rights lawyer who was previously imprisoned on similar charges, related Mr Mesyami’s case updates to HRANA.
“Farhad Meysami [declared his strike] when he contacted his mother, which was 20 days into his detention,” Mr Khandan said, explaining that news hadn’t spread earlier because Mr Meysami was being held in solitary confinement. In the same phone conversation, according to Mr Khandan, Mr Meysami said he was anticipating a transfer to the prison’s general ward in three days.
Reading from the interrogation sheet intended to elucidate his charges, Mr Meysami cited accusations of “provoking women to appear without hijab in the street”. Mr Khandan conjectures that Mr Meysami’s charges actually stem from his possession of pin-back buttons reading “I protest mandatory Hijab”.
“Farhad Meysami’s mother was extremely worried following the news of his hunger strike and intimated that she wanted to start a hunger strike as well,” Mr Khandan added. “But some friends and I dissuaded her, given her age and her need to take medications on a daily basis.”
Earlier, Arash Keikhosravi — who has been detained in the Great Tehran Penitentiary for the past four days — told HRANA that “on Sunday, August 12th, Mr Meysami’s mother and I went to Branch 7 of Evin court to follow up on his case and to see how he was doing. I planned to register as his lawyer, but the officials at the branch told me that section 48 of the Criminal Procedure Code bars me from doing so.”
Section 48 of the recently-amended Criminal Procedure Code states that those accused of national-security crimes must choose their lawyer from a list approved by the Iranian judiciary. Human Rights Organizations have argued that this new policy gives further license to infringe on the rights of defendants.
Mr Keikhosravi also said that “Mr Meysami’s mother went to see the case investigator after receiving a phone call in which she could hear the sounds of her son’s interrogation and torture.”
The investigator reportedly denied that the call had come from Evin authorities, promising her a phone call from her son to alleviate some of her worries and assure her of his wellbeing.