Imprisoned Civil Rights Activist Farhad Meysami Reaches 50th day on Hunger Strike

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – Farhad Meysami has not had a single meal, or any food at all, for 50 days and counting, as his health condition continues to deteriorate.

A civil rights activist imprisoned in Tehran’s Evin Prison, Meysami announced his hunger strike August 1st, one day after his arrest by Iranian authorities, in protest of their refusal of the attorney of his choosing. Despite the decline of his health during the hunger strike, authorities have yet to send him to a hospital.

HRANA reported on Meysami’s weight loss and poor physical state on September 8th.

Mohammad Moghimi–lawyer of fellow Evin prisoner Reza Khandan, and incidentally, the attorney Meysami would have appointed if given the choice–said his client called him from Evin to report that Meysami’s strike had put him in mortal danger, and that he needed a transfer to the hospital right away.

Moghimi said that authorities’ denial of Meysami’s attorney of choice puts them in conflict with Iranian law. Once initial interrogations are over, each prisoner has a right to a lawyer of his or her choosing, according to Moghimi’s reading of Article 48 of Iranian penal code.

Meysami was arrested in his personal study on July 31st. He was originally charged with “gathering and collusion aimed at disrupting national security,”; “propaganda against the regime”; and “insulting hijab, a necessary and sacred element of Islam.”

On September 3rd, however, Branch 7 of the Evin prosecutor’s interrogation department claimed that charges have since changed, with the last one replaced with “spreading corruption and prostitution.”

Meysami, who suffers from ulcerative colitis, has said that during his hunger strike he will take only the medication that treats this condition, as he has taken for the past 18 years. Meysami has previously said that he would break his hunger strike only if his friend and fellow inmate Reza Khandan, who was arrested after Meysami’s hunger strike began, is released unconditionally.

Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have both asked for Meysami’s release.

Lawyer Sues Client’s Trial Judge, Citing Abuse of Criminal Procedure Code

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA)- Mostafa Tork Hamedani, attorney of Hengameh Shahidi, imprisoned journalist and human rights activist, has filed suit against the judge presiding over his client’s case.

Hamedani told Iranian Students’ News Agency (ISNA) that “once Ms. Shahidi’s case was referred to the court, I presented myself to register as her attorney, but the judge would not appoint me. So I have filed a formal complaint against this judge at the Government Employees’ Court and the Judges’ Disciplinary Court for unlawfully barring a certified lawyer from representing a client.”

Reporting that requests from himself, Shahidi, and Shahidi’s mother to appoint him as her attorney have been submitted and summarily rejected, Hamedani has continued to speak on his client’s behalf, announcing that Shahidi is still in custody and that her case has been forwarded to Revolutionary Court.

According to Hamedani, authorities are inappropriately applying a law intended to stipulate defendants’ choice of lawyers in the case of national-security crimes. “[…] the amendment to *section 48 [of criminal procedure code] only applies during preliminary investigations. Once the case is sent to a court, the amendment no longer applies. [The law] is crystal clear on this.”

ISNA quoted a report from the Tehran Prosecutor’s office stating that Shahidi was arrested June 26, 2018 on the island of Kish in Persian Gulf. It reads, “The judiciary was pursuing the defendant, who was arrested by police while attempting to conceal her face with a mask.”

In a statement released in late June, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said “[We] condemn the police violence and arbitrary arrests to which citizen-journalists have been subjected during this week’s protests in Tehran. RSF also condemns the latest arrest of journalist and blogger Hengameh Shahidi.”

Ministry of Intelligence forces arrested Shahidi on March 9, 2017, citing her collaboration with a media network.

Hamedani said that the Ministry of Intelligence was the plaintiff in the above case, and that Shahidi’s arrest warrant was issued by Branch 2 of Culture and Media Court. She was released on August 28, 2016 after six months in detention.

* In national security cases, amendment 48 to Iranian’s Code of Criminal Procedure obliges the defendant to choose a lawyer from a list pre-approved by the judiciary. Iranian authorities leverage “national security” charges against most political prisoners.

Nine Prisoners on Hunger Strike in Iran

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – In the last few weeks, a number of prisoners across the country have declared hunger strike. HRANA has prepared a bulletin on their cases, previously reported in detail.

Nasrin Sotoudeh
Lawyer and human rights activist

Nasrin Sotoudeh started a hunger strike on August 25th in protest to her arrest and the judicial pressures being placed on her family, relatives, and friends.
She published an open letter outlining her reasons for the strike.

Ramin Hossein Panahi
Political prisoner

Sentenced to death, Ramin Hossein Panahi was recently transferred to Karaj’s Rajai Shahr Prison and declared hunger strike on August 27th by sewing his lips together. He is protesting his sentence and multiple violations of his legal rights. His lawyers published a statement sharing the reasons behind the strike. According to them, his whereabouts have been unknown since his August 26th transfer out of Rajai Shahr.

Farhad Meysami
Civil rights activist

Farhad Meysami was arrested July 31st by security forces. He started a hunger strike August 1st, protesting his arrest and the constraints being placed on his choice of attorney. He was transferred from Evin’s Quarantine Ward to the General Ward on August 26th, where he is reportedly suffering from low blood pressure and drastic weight loss.

Namegh Deldel
Prisoner of conscience

Sunni prisoner Namegh Deldel from hall 21, Ward 7 of Rajai Shahr Prison has been suffering from an injury to his right leg. In protest of his restricted access to medical care, including the prison’s refusal to transfer him to an outside hospital, he has been on hunger strike for more than a month.

Farhad Ariai (Sahrapeyma)
Political prisoner

Farhad Ariai (Sahrapeyma), a political prisoner in the Workers’ Ward of Urmia Prison, is in the sixth year of his seven-year sentence. Eligible for early release per Article 134 on the serving of concurrent sentences, he declared hunger strike on August 15th when the court refused to review his request thereof. According to a credible source, Ariai was transferred to the quarantine ward immediately after starting his hunger strike.
Ariai also declared hunger strike last year when prison officials denied his request for furlough. In response to that strike, prison staff forcibly handcuffed and transferred him to the Workers’ Ward of the prison, where he remains to this day.

Seyed Ghassem Abasteh
Prisoner of conscience

Seyed Ghassem Abasteh, a Sunni prisoner in Karaj’s Rajai Shahr prison, started a hunger strike on July 17th to protest his inadequate medical care and the prison’s denial of his access to a clinic. Despite developing asthenia and severe weight loss as of the fifteenth day of his strike, prison authorities continue to ignore his pleas.

His poor health condition has been repeatedly reported on, and in March, he was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. His condition has deteriorated to the point that he struggles to speak and breathe.

Abasteh is married with two children. He was arrested in early 2010 and sent to solitary confinement in Urmia Prison, which is run by the Ministry of Intelligence. He spent eight months there before being transferred to Evin Prison, where he spent six months in the solitary cells of wards 240 and 209. After 14 months, he spent another 20 days in Ward 350 of Evin before finally being transferred to Rajai Shahr on April 8, 2012.

He faces charges such as “militant activity”, accused of backing Salafi groups. He denied such involvement, saying the charges are baseless.

He has been awaiting trial since his 2016 prison sentence from Judge Moghiseh was nullified. He has thus far spent eight years in prison without due process.

Saman Rahmani

Saman Rahmani, a prisoner in the Health Ward of Saqez Prison, is on the verge of losing his arms after suffering an injury, yet continues to be denied the rights of furlough and access to a clinic. He started a hunger strike on July 20th in protest.
“Rahmani was to be sent to Karaj’s Rajai Shahr prison for care, but prison authorities changed their minds,” a credible source told HRANA.

When authorities promised him medical care earlier this year, he stopped the hunger strike he had started in June for the same reasons.

Farshid Nasseri
Prisoner of conscience

Sunni prisoner Farshid Nasseri of Rajai Shahr started a hunger strike on June 16th to demand his right to furlough. Twenty-eight days later, his condition had severely deteriorated. He suffers from back and neck problems, in addition to psychological issues stemming from his years spent in prison.

Verya Saed Moochashmi

On August 19th, on orders from a Ward chief penalizing their refusal to end their hunger strike, five prisoners from Ward 3 of Rajai Shahr were beaten and sent to solitary confinement. They were reportedly striking to protest issues with their respective legal cases.

HRANA understands these prisoners to be Verya Saed Moochashmi, Hossein Esmaeili, Saeed Moradpour, Mojtaba Kounani, and Alireza Kounani. As of yesterday, August 27, 2018, Moochashmi is the sole among the group to continue the strike.

In 1998, Moochashmi, then 17, was sentenced to death and 80 lashings when he was convicted of aiding and abetting murder. He has so far served 21 years in prison.

Majid Tavakoli and Riaz Sobhani return to prison

HRANA News Agency – Majid Tavakoli and Riaz Sobhani have returned to Rejai Shahr Prison at the conclusion of their three-day furlough. Both prisoners were granted a leave on August 23 and required to report back to prison on August 25. Their requests for an extension have been denied.
According to the report of Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA), Tavakoli was arrested on December 7, 2009, following his speech at Amir Kabir University against the results of Iran’s presidential election. Continue reading “Majid Tavakoli and Riaz Sobhani return to prison”

Political prisoner Mohammadamin Agoshi on hunger strike – Day 9

HRANA News Agency – Kurdish teacher Mohammadamin Agoshi, 53, began his hunger strike in Zahadan Central Prison on June 30, 2013 after authorities turned down his request for furlough or conditional release.
Continue reading “Political prisoner Mohammadamin Agoshi on hunger strike – Day 9”

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Blogger Mohammad-Reza Pourshjari is in critical condition

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Labor activist Afshin Osanlou suffered a heart attack in Prison

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