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Jailed Iran Activist Who Demanded Khamenei's Resignation Goes On Hunger Strike

Zartosht Ahmadi Ragheb at his home near Tehran in August 2019. Behind him on the wall are photos of other imprisoned activists. File photo

An Iranian activist who was arrested on August 27 for demanding the resignation of Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei says he is on hunger strike again.

Speaking to Radio Farda from Tehran's notorious Evin Prison Zartosht Ahmadi-Ragheb said he has been on hunger strike for 19 days in protest to the violation of his rights.

Ahmadi-Ragheb and 13 other activists published an open letter on June 10 in which they called on Khamenei to step down. Khamenei has several times claimed that criticizing him is not a crime but speaking against him is rarely without consequence.

The signatories of the letter to Khamenei have been accused of advocating "regime change" and preparing for a "sedition". Most of the signatories of the letter were arrested in August by Intelligence Ministry agents in a rally in Mashhad in northeast Iran in support of Kamal Jafari-Yazdi, also a signatory of the letter, who was sentenced to 13 years in prison for "insulting the leader".

Ahmadi-Ragheb went on a 41-day hunger strike when he was put in solitary confinement and in protest to the manner of his arrest by the Intelligence Ministry agents which he describes as "a brutal attack". He ended his hunger strike when he was transferred to Ward 8 of Evin prison.

In his phone call to Radio Farda Ahmadi-Ragheb said he has gone on hunger strike again in protest to the violations of prisoners' rights and putting them in solitary confinement.

Speaking about the recent protests in Iran during which at least 161 protesters were killed by security forces, Ahmadi-Ragheb said: "Our activities were peaceful. We had repeatedly warned the government that its behavior will lead to popular uprising."