Political Prisoner’s Health Deteriorating as His Hunger Strike Enters Fourth Week
The political prisoner Majid Azarpey is in extremely poor health since beginning a wet hunger strike (refusing solid foods) in Evin Prison on November 3, 2015 to protest his sentence.
Azarpey’s mother, Mina Dena, told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, “I visited Majid on November 19. He is not well at all. His blood pressure has sharply dropped. He has lost a lot of weight. I’m extremely worried for his health. He told me he would end his hunger strike when he’s outside Evin’s gate.”
Majid Azarpey, 30, is a member of the Etemad Melli Party’s youth wing, the party led by reformist Mehdi Karroubi, who was a presidential candidate in 2009 and who has been under house arrest since 2011, and he also worked for Hassan Rouhani’s 2013 presidential campaign.
Azarpey was arrested on June 16, 2015, by agents of the Revolutionary Guards Intelligence Organization, according to an informed source, and has been held at Evin Prison ever since. He was put on trial at Branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court presided over by Judge Moghisseh for “propaganda against the state” and “acting against national security.” A verdict has not yet been issued.
“We have asked so many times to let him go free until the court’s verdict is issued but they have refused. It is the defendant’s right to go free on bail until he’s sentenced. More importantly, Majid doesn’t accept the accusations against him because he believes he has been framed,” Dena told the Campaign.
“I wrote a letter to Judiciary Chief, Mr. Larijani, so that he might help Majid. I think he can hear the voice of the oppressed without his going on a hunger strike—if he wants to. Otherwise he won’t hear anything, even if he screams. I am speaking as a mother whose son has been on a hunger strike for 16 days. My son worked for Rouhani’s election campaign and this is his reward: Prison.”
Azarpey also worked for reformist Mir Hossein Mousavi’s presidential campaign in 2009, who, along with Karoubi and Mousavi’s wife, Zahra Rahnavard, has also been held under house arrest without charge since 2011. Azarpey was briefly arrested, along with hundreds others, during the post-election protests that swept the country over the disputed results of those elections, but was released without being charged. Some of the individuals arrested from that time remain behind bars in Iran.
Azarpey’s mother stated that the basis for his recent arrest was his support for the Green Movement (the opposition movement that arose in Iran after that disputed 2009 presidential election) and for being in contact with families of political prisoners.
“Judge Moghisseh told my son in court that he is ‘poison’ for society and promised to give him the maximum sentence. But Majid did nothing against the law. He was a supporter of the Rouhani government. He’s not the type to wage propaganda against the state,” said Dena.
Majid Azarpey’s cellmate and fellow-hunger striker Ali Shariati is also said to be in poor condition. A source close to his family told the Campaign that he was “completely pale, lifeless and skinny” when relatives visited him at Evin Prison recently.
Shariati is protesting a 12-year prison sentence by Judge Salavati for “propaganda against the state,” “acting against national security,” “insulting the president,” and “having a satellite dish at home.”
Azarpey and Shariati wrote a joint letter to President Rouhani on November 4, 2015, calling on him to use his constitutional powers to free them and “not let these extremist forces help the enemies of our land with their injustices.”
Some 150 political and civil activists signed a letter on November 18 asking the two prisoners of conscience to end their hunger strike.
Ahead of the upcoming 2016 elections, hardliners in Iran have launched an escalating crackdown on reformist voices in Iran, whom they fear have been strengthened politically by the recent nuclear deal Iran signed with world powers.