London, 11 Sep – It has been reported that the hunger strike in Rajai Shahr Prison is growing. More and more prisoners, from other prisons across Iran too, are joining in the strike.
The hunger strike was started in Rajai Shahr Prison, with around two dozen participants who are continuing indefinitely. Several prisoners in Ardabil Prison joined in solidarity, partaking in a two-week hunger strike.
Some reports say that the total number of prisoners on hunger strike is around 130, plus countless other activists inside and outside the country.
Hamzeh Darvish, a prisoner in Rajai Shahr, is the first protester that has been hospitalised. He has lost around 24 pounds and has internal bleeding and severely low blood pressure.
Several of the other prisoners who have been on hunger strike for a number of weeks already have been suffering from health issues involving kidney, lung and heart problems. They very clearly need proper medical care, but authorities are preventing them from receiving the help they need. In addition to this, authorities removed essential prescription medication from the prisoners before the strike began.
The authorities are using such measures to try to convince the prisoners to end their hunger strike, but they are not giving in.
Even though the death of a prisoner in such conditions would be very bad press for the Iranian regime, it still refuses to ignore demands from the prosecutors who are advising that medication should be returned to the prisoners.
Some of the prisoners have been moved to a different ward where daylight is blocked and they are under constant video and audio surveillance, even in the bathrooms. Many prisoners have had their personal belongings confiscated and they have been denied visits and phone calls to their families. There are not enough beds for the prisoners and there is no circulation of air. The conditions are horrendous for the prisoners – even worse than what they suffered with before.
Last week, Abbas Jafari Dowlatabadi, a Tehran prosecutor, spoke out against the actions of the prisoners. He said that the prisoners are taking part in a futile exercise. “Prisoners must endure their punishment to the fullest. We will not be influenced by the prisoners’ actions, such as hunger strikes.”
He added that the hunger strikes are “threats” that the Iranian regime refuses to respond to.
The authorities are breaking the laws of the country and violating international human rights standards, yet international demands have failed to stop them.