Labor activist Reza Shahabi, who has been in prison since his 12 June 2010 arrest, embarked on a dry hunger strike on 22 November in protest of the Evin Prison authorities’ lack of medical treatment and attention to his illness.

A close relative of Shahabi’s told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran that his family has heard no news from him since he began his hunger strike, and one of his children, his 13-year-old son, had to be taken to the hospital when he heard about his father’s hunger strike due to heart stress.

He also told the Campaign that if Shahabi did not receive immediate medical attention his left side might become paralyzed.

Shahabi is a trade unionist and a board member of Syndicate of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company. He was arrested on 12 June 2010. Shahabi has embarked on several hunger strikes to protest the unlawful nature of his case proceedings. After spending several months in solitary confinement, Shahabi was transferred to a 12-person cell inside Evin Prison’s Ward 209.

“Ten days ago, Reza Shahabi was transferred to the hospital due to having pain in his back and neck, and doctors told him after an MRI that some of the vertebra in his neck have deteriorated and are in need of surgery followed by six months of complete rest, and that without hospitalization his left side might become paralyzed,” the source told the Campaign in a telephone interview. “But unfortunately, no action has been taken for him yet. In his last contact with us, Reza told us that he would start his dry hunger strike on 22 November.”

The source also told the Campaign that authorities have not permitted Shahabi’s family to see him, despite multiple attempts:

“They only said, ‘he doesn’t have any problems.’ They even said that the reason he went to the hospital ten days ago was because he had a cold, not because of his back or for the MRI. But Reza himself told us that he was sent there for an MRI and even told us what the doctor had said. Would they send anyone to the hospital for a simple cold?!  When his family went to the prison yesterday [25 November], they were told that in order to put their minds at ease, he would be given permission today to contact his home, but unfortunately there hasn’t been any contact with us yet.”

“Reza Shahabi’s case file has been in a limbo for the past 19 months. His last court session was in June, about six months ago, but there is no court ruling yet. Now he is sick and they are inattentive to him. Reza was forced to go on hunger strike,” he added.