In an interview with the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, the son of imprisoned blogger Mehdi Khazali expressed concern about his health 49 days after he began his hunger strike in protest of his “temporary detention” without charges.
“It has been 49 days since he embarked on a hunger strike and he has only had liquids,” Mohammad Saleh Khazali told the Campaign. “Last week, when my father’s condition deteriorated, they transferred him to the hospital. When we saw him in the hospital, we couldn’t believe it was him. His weight loss was unbelievable; he was so thin. We are afraid something bad might happen to my father.”
Mehdi Khazali is one of Iran’s political activists who has spoken of boycotting the upcoming parliamentary elections. His latest arrest came on 9 January, when security forces brutally beat and arrested the dissident blogger and head of Hayyan Publishing House, breaking his arm.
Khazali started the hunger strike on the day of his arrest to protest his temporary detention, stating that he would continue his hunger strike until his release. It is not clear on what charges his January 9 arrest was based. Khazali remains in temporary detention and his case judge extended his temporary detention orders for one more month.
After his condition worsened, Khazali was transferred to the Cardiac Care Unit of Taleghani Hospital on Friday, 17 February. Twenty-four hours later, Intelligence Ministry forces transferred him to the Ministry’s Ghamar Bani Hashem Hospital. He was transferred back to Evin Prison on Monday, 20 February.
“He called from the prison [Tuesday], and said that he is well. But we have not yet visited him. We would have to wait until Monday of next week to see him during a regular visit. We are concerned, because he does not wish to break his hunger strike,” Mohammad Saleh Khazali told the Campaign.
In an earlier interview with the Campaign, Mohammad Saleh Khazali described the family’s frustration about Mehdi Khazali’s case. “When we objected to his case judge about this process, he said, ‘It’s out of my hands!’ Now we don’t know who is in charge of our father’s case and who is issuing orders on it. We don’t know what to do and where to go. We only know one thing, and that is that our father is not well at all and continuing the strike is dangerous for him.”
Branch 26 of Tehran Revolutionary Court under Judge Pirabbasi has previously sentenced Mehdi Khazali to 14 years in prison, 10 years in exile, and 90 lashes. In those cases he was charged with “propagating against the state,” “assembly and collusion against national security,” “acting against national security,” and “writing a critical letter to the Supreme Leader.” He has not yet been charged for his January 9 arrest.