by Yesim Usluca
Impunity Watch Reporter, Middle East
TEHRAN, Iran — A United Nations expert on Iranian human rights issued a warning regarding the health risks faced by prisoners of conscience who have been on a prolonged hunger strike protesting their legality of their detention.
The United Nations expert, Ms. Asma Jahangir, reported that in recent weeks, at least eight prisoners of conscience have been “on life-threatening hunger strikes.” She called upon Iranian authorities to “immediately and unconditionally release [prisoners] who have been arbitrarily arrested, detained and prosecuted for exercising their rights.”
Among the prisoners of conscience is Mr. Arash Sadeghi, who ended his three-and-a-half month hunger strike last week after his spouse was released from prison on bail. Ms. Jahangir reported that the spouses are “human rights defenders who have been imprisoned for peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of expression and association.” She stated that Mr. Sadeghi is being kept in his cell and denied treatment at a specialized medical facility despite his critical health. She called upon Iranian authorities to comply with international human rights standards and medical ethics.
Ms. Jahangir expressed concern over the continued detention of Iranian human rights defenders who have been “tried [based on] vaguely defined offenses and heavily sentenced following trials marred with due process violations.” She indicated that such prisoners have no alternatives other than “to put their life at risk to contest the legality of their detention.”
Mr. Ali Shariati, another prisoner, has been on a hunger strike since October 31, 2016. He was sentenced to five years in prison for peaceful activism, which included a “non-violent protest to condemn acid attacks against women in Iran.” Ms. Jahangir expressed concern over the health issues faced by Mr. Saeed Shirzad, a children’s rights activist who has been on a hunger strike since December 7, 2016, and Mr. Mohammed Ali Taheri, who cannot be located after starting a hunger strike on September 28, 2016 and being transported to a military hospital in October 2016. A further prisoner, Mr. Hassan Rastegari Majd, is reportedly being held in solitary confinement as retaliation for undertaking an extensive hunger strike.
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