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Rights Activist Says She And Other Women Suffer In Iran Prison

Iranian labor rights activist Sepideh Qolian before her arrest. File photo

A young labor rights activist, Sepideh Qolyan has ended her hunger strike behind bars, her father told Radio Farda on Friday, October 25.

Qolyan (Gholian), 24, had started her dry-hunger strike on October 20 to protest "unbearable" conditions at the notorious Qarchak prison, south of the capital city, Tehran.

"Upon promises by prison authorities, my daughter has ended her hunger strike," Qolyan's father told Radio Farda.

The Islamic Republic intelligence agents arrested Qolyan along with the spokesman of the Haft Tapeh Sugar Cane industrial complex workers, Esmail Bakhshi, on November 18, 2018.

The young citizen-journalist was reporting on a labor protest organized by the Workers Union of Haft Tapeh Sugarcane Agro-Industrial Company when the security forces detained and took her away.

The two were held incommunicado without charge or legal representation for thirty days, and the judiciary officials eventually released them on bail.

Following their release, Bakhshi and Qolyan gave Amnesty International (AI) an account of the torture they suffered while in custody of police and the Ministry of intelligence officials in the cities of Shush and Ahvaz.

They were arrested again on January 20, 2019. According to Amnesty International, "the timing of their arrest strongly suggests it is an attempt to silence and punish them for speaking out about the abuse they suffered in custody."

A Revolutionary Court Judge Mohammad Moqisseh, recently sentenced 24-year-old Qolyan to seven years for "collusion and action against national security," seven years for "contributing to an online magazine", one and a half year for "propaganda against the Islamic Republic regime," two and a half years for disseminating false information."

Two days ago, in a telephone conversation, Qolyan said that she was on a hunger strike to protest intelligence agents harassing her brother and sister.

"My brother and sister are under intolerable pressure, merely for being my siblings," Qolyan said in the taped conversation.

While repeatedly breaking into tears, she asserted, "I cannot bear my situation anymore. I want people to know how I am suffering from injustice."

In the meantime, Qolyan has called upon the Islamic Republic judiciary to assign a delegation to review the condition of women inmates in Qarchak prison.