Rouhani Supporter Imprisoned for Peaceful Activism Critically Ill After 43-Day Hunger Strike
After 43 days on hunger strike, political prisoner Ali Shariati, a long-time supporter of President Hassan Rouhani, has been hospitalized and is “critically ill,” his mother told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.
“Ali’s blood pressure suddenly dropped on Friday (December 9, 2016) and he was transferred to Taleghani Hospital, but no one told us,” said Shayesteh-ol-Sadat Shahidi. “On Saturday morning we got a call that he’s in the hospital, but then he was returned to the clinic in Evin Prison. He has become extremely thin.”
Ali Shariati, 30, went on hunger strike on October 31, 2016 after being taken to Evin Prison to begin a five-year prison sentence for “acting against national security by participating in a protest against acid attacks in front of [Parliament] on October 22, 2014.” He is protesting “against his forced return to prison to serve a sentence that has no legal basis,” Shahidi told the Campaign in November 2016.
“Ali has not committed any crime,” Shahidi told the Campaign in a recent interview. “He was one of the supporters of the government [of Hassan Rouhani]. I don’t understand how the supporter of a sitting president can be arrested for ‘acting against national security.’ If that’s the case, the 20 million people who voted for Mr. Rouhani should also be arrested.”
“Many people have demonstrated in front of Parliament,” she added. “Ali just protested once against acid attacks on women at a peaceful rally in front of Parliament, and they are calling it ‘acting against national security.’ It’s wrong to sentence him to five years in prison for this.”
Shariati was initially sentenced to 12 years and nine months in prison by Abolqasem Salavati of Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court, but the sentence was reduced to five years upon appeal.
Shariati was previously arrested on February 14, 2010 during a street protest against the widely disputed result of the 2009 presidential election and held for a month in solitary confinement in Evin Prison. Judge Yahya Pirabbasi of the Revolutionary Court sentenced him to two years in prison and 74 lashes, but the Appeals Court later reduced the sentence to one year in prison, which Shariati served.
He was arrested again on June 13, 2014 and detained for a week before being released. Subsequently he was frequently summoned to the Intelligence Ministry for questioning until his final arrest on February 18, 2015.