Rights Activist Sentenced to 15 Years Imprisonment in Critical Condition After 45-Day Hunger Strike
Civil rights defender Arash Sadeghi, who is currently serving a 15-year prison sentence for his peaceful activism, is in “critical and worrying” condition after 45 days on hunger strike in Tehran’s Evin Prison, an informed source told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.
“Arash has lost a lot of weight and he’s suffering from stomach and intestinal problems,” said the source on December 7, 2016. “His blood pressure has dropped severely and he has been constantly in and out of the prison clinic during the past week. He spat out blood and he can barely stand or speak. His health is in critical condition and worrying.”
Sadeghi began serving his 15-year prison sentence in June 2016. The charges against him included “assembly and collusion against national security,” “propaganda against the state,” “spreading lies in cyberspace,” and “insulting the founder of the Islamic Republic.”
Four months after Sadeghi began serving his sentence, his wife, Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee, began serving a six-year sentence in Evin Prison for the content of some of her Facebook posts and an unpublished work of literary fiction about stoning in Iran.
Sadeghi began his hunger strike on October 24 to protest the wrongful prosecution of himself and his wife, and to demand a judicial review of their cases.
“My stories and poems were confiscated the night agents searched our home,” Iraee told the Campaign in October. “After the third day of questioning, the interrogators put me under pressure and accused me of insulting the sacred. I was interrogated dozens of times about the burning of the Quran in my story.
“Each time I explained: it’s only a story,” she added. “I told them and I wrote [in my defense statement] that if what I did was a crime, then many scriptwriters and novelists should be arrested for committing the same crime. But they didn’t care, and in the end they gave me the maximum punishment.”
Sadeghi and Iraee were arrested with their friends Navid Kamran and Behnam Mousivand on September 6, 2014 at the couple’s stationary store in Tehran by agents of the Revolutionary Guards’ Sarallah Headquarters. Kamran and Mousivand are currently serving a one-year prison sentence in Evin Prison.
Previously Sadeghi had been arrested on July 9, 2009 following widespread street protests against the officially disputed outcome of that year’s presidential election. At the time, he was a sixth-term graduate student of philosophy at Allameh Tabatabaee University, a member of the Islamic Association of the university, and a member of presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi’s campaign. Sadeghi was released in late August 2009 without being charged.
On October 30, 2010, Sadeghi’s mother died from the heart attack she suffered during a raid of their home by Intelligence Ministry agents. Sadeghi, who was not home that day, turned himself in at Evin Prison on December 21, 2010. While being interrogated at Ward 209, Intelligence Ministry agents tortured him and ultimately coerced him into signing a letter denying any connection between his mother’s death and the raid.
Sadeghi is currently serving a 15-year prison sentence for multiple charges. His time in prison could be reduced to seven and a half years if the Judiciary agrees to apply Article 134 of the Islamic Penal Code, which grants judges the authority to reduce prison time to only the longest sentence in convictions involving multiple charges.
Sadeghi was also issued a suspended four-year prison sentence in 2010 for “propaganda against the state” and “assembly and collusion against national security,” which the court could choose to add to his incarceration time at the end of his current term.
In addition to Sadeghi, at least seven other political prisoners were on hunger strike in November 2016 in Tehran and Karaj to demand reviews of their unjust sentences, better prison conditions and medical treatment.