News / Middle East

Iranian Political Prisoners Continue Hunger Strike Over Basic Rights

Seventeen Iranian political prisoners, now being held at Tehran's notorious Evin prison, are continuing their ten day old hunger strike, despite pleas from opposition leaders to call it off. Reports say some have already been hospitalized. The prisoners, many of them journalists, are protesting the deplorable conditions under which they are being held.

The families of 17 Iranian political prisoners, now on a hunger strike, were given a verbal warning last week by prison officials not to congregate outside of Tehran's infamous Evin prison.

Iranian prison officials placed the hunger strikers in solitary confinement last month and have prevented their families and outside observers from seeing them. Opposition leaders, religious figures, and Iran's Islamic Medical Society want them to call off their strike before it's too late.

Reza Moini of Reporters Without Borders in Paris says that the hunger strikers are demanding their basic rights, which are being denied them, but that his group thinks they should call off the strike before putting their lives in danger:

He says that the lives of the political prisoners and journalists now on strike are in grave danger, and even though it is impossible to see them in prison, the situation is worrisome. He adds that the men are being denied their rights, guaranteed by the Iranian constitution, including health conditions, family visits, etc. Human rights groups, he insists, support them on their demands, but want them to call off their hunger strike.

Meanwhile, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad denied arresting or mistreating journalists, during a speech Saturday to mark Iranian Journalist's Day.

He says that during the past five years, his government has not taken any drastic measures against journalists, despite the fact that his government has received the most criticism by journalists of any previous government. He also insists that he condemns the imprisonment and detention of journalists for articles they write and claims that his government is not involved in any such practice.

Reza Moini, however, notes that there are some 200 cases of journalists who were arrested in the past several years simply for criticizing the government. He also argues that most of those who still practice the profession of journalism inside Iran are government supporters.

One Iranian political prisoner, who recently wrote an open letter describing his conditions of detention at the overcrowded Gohardasht prison facility in Karaj, described life there as a "hell and human catastrophe."

He wrote of "naked and sweaty bodies, red with lice bites," living amid "dirty, polluted air, the smell of rotten trash, sewage from clogged toilets, dried vomit from food poisoning, and mucus from infected throats."

Houchang Hassan-yari, who teaches at the Royal Military College of Canada, says that the families of many prisoners report similarly deplorable conditions.

"Their conditions are deplorable," said Hassan-yari. "They don't have access to fresh air, proper food, medication. Beside that, almost all of them are complaining that they are deprived of sleep, taking showers, but also to be tortured, physically, emotionally, [and] intellectually."

In a related development, the Iranian judiciary recently confirmed the death sentences of a group of political prisoners, condemned for being "mohareb," or enemies of God. The men, Jafar Kazemi, Ali Saremi, Abdolreza Ghanbari, Ahmad Daneshpour Moghaddam, Mohsen Daneshpour Moghaddam, Mohammad Ali Haj Aghaei, and Javad Lari could be hanged at any moment, according to Amnesty International.

You May Like

Photogallery Brussels Schools, Metro Reopen Under Heavy Guard

City remains under the highest threat alert level due to what authorities have described as a 'serious and imminent' threat of attack

Video Debt-ridden Refugees Await Onslaught of Lebanese Winter

Aid agencies are attempting to reduce potentially devastating consequences of freezing conditions and snowstorms that killed eight last year, including three Syrian refugees

UN Warns Air Pollution in Asia Pacific Has Rising Cost

Globally some seven million people a year die prematurely due to indoor and outdoor pollution with about 70 per cent of those deaths in region

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against ISi
November 24, 2015 3:04 AM
The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs