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Hunger Strikes Intensify in Iran Prisons As Elections Near 


Political prisoners - Hangameh Shahidi (journalist), Aneta Daeimi (human rights activist) and Esmail Abdi (worker activist)

Voicing its condemnation of Iranian authorities for keeping human rights activist and journalist Hangameh Shahidi behind bars, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has appealed for her unconditional release.

In a May 11 statement, RSF warned Shahidi is on the verge of death after starting a dry hunger strike.

Kept in solitary confinement in section 209 of Tehran’s notorious Evin prison, Shahidi has been on hunger strike for the past two months.

As of May 10, however, she has embarked on an even more life-threatening dry hunger strike, even refraining from drinking liquids.

Shahidi told her mother she planned to go on hunger strike in protest against her detention and the pressure put on her to make her confess,” RSF said. She also wanted to denounce the fact that she had been denied her rights and refused access to her lawyer.”

RSF called for her immediate release.

“Subjecting journalists and other prisoners of conscience to inhuman and degrading treatment constitutes a flagrant violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is [a] party, the international NGO said.

Security forces arrested Shahidi on March 9. She has not been formally charged.

In a recent letter to President Hassan Rouhani, Shahidi declared that her arrest is related to the presidential election.

In a joint project, the Intelligence Ministry and IRGC Intelligence are operating to imprison journalists and activists on a large scale, she wrote.

Meanwhile, sources close to confined teachers’ rights activist Esma’il Abdi have also reported his health condition is deteriorating fast after 12 consecutive days of hunger strike.

“After 12 days of hunger strike, Esma’il Abdi has significantly lost weight and is suffering from dizziness and low blood pressure, reported the International Campaign for Human Rights on May 11.

Abdi is a senior member of the Teachers Union of Iran. His hunger strike is in protest of harsh conviction sentences issued against teachers and labor unions activists.

He also demanded a trial in an ordinary civil court rather than a special security one. Prison authorities have so far not responded to his hunger strike or demands.

“The judiciary and security authorities are responsible for Abdi’s life,” said his lawyer, Amir Salar Davoodi.

Abdi is accused of “propaganda against the ruling system” andrallying intended to disrupt public order.” He was sentenced to 10 years in prison in a preliminary court, but a higher court reduced it to six years.

According to the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, Abdi has appealed and his demand has been officially registered with the Supreme Court.

In the final days of Iran’s presidential campaign set for May 19, there are more reports of activists -- including prominent civil rights activist Atena Da’emi -- going on hunger strike all over Iran.

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