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Outspoken Dissident On Hunger Strike In Prison

Manouchehr Bakhtiari, the Father of Pouya Bakhtiari, young victim
Manouchehr Bakhtiari, the Father of Pouya Bakhtiari, young victim

The mother of Iranian political activist Manouchehr Bakhtiari says her son has been on a three-day hunger strike behind bars in Iran.

Bakhtiari's mother, Beebee Zahra, shared a video on social media on Saturday, August 15 to decry her son's detention, claiming that Bakhtiari has been on a three-day hunger strike to protest not having access to a telephone to call his "sick mother.” Zahra also petitioned the Iranian authorities responsible for her son’s imprisonment to release Bakhtiari within a week.

Bakhtiari was arrested last month after he traveled to Kish Island in the Persian Gulf to protest a drafted agreement between Iran and China, in which Iran would accept substantial investments from China to support infrastructure initiatives. Bakhtiari was arrested on Kish Island and transferred to a prison in the port of Bandar Abbas.

Bakhtiari, a veteran of the Iran-Iraq war, lost his 27-year-old son Pouya Bakhtiari in the November 2019 riots protesting the government’s widespread corruption and mismanagement. Iranian security forces shot and killed Pouya while he was standing beside his mother during a demonstration on November 18, 2019 in the city of Mehrshahr, with Pouya becoming one of the symbols of the protests in the months since his death.

Following the death of his son, Manouchehr Bakhtiari has become a vocal critic of Iran’s clergy-dominated ruling establishment. Bakhtiari was previously detained along with one of his brothers for nearly a month without trial, following his insistence to hold a memorial ceremony and pay homage to the victims of the November 2019 protests across Iran.

Bakhtiari has also called on the United Nations to set up a commission to investigate the "bloody crackdown on protesters” that left hundreds dead across Iran.

"Suppressing the mid-November protests in Iran was the deadliest repression of critics in the streets since the establishment of the Islamic Republic in 1979," Bakhtiari wrote in his letter to the U.N.