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Rights Defender Concerned Over Three Journalists On Hunger Strike In Iran Jail

File photo - Prisoner of Conscience Soheil Arabi in prison. Undated
File photo - Prisoner of Conscience Soheil Arabi in prison. Undated

Global rights defender Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has expressed concern over three imprisoned Iranian journalists who have been on hunger strike for weeks.

The Paris-based international organization says, photojournalist and blogger, Soheil Arabi has been on hunger strike for more than twenty days, while two reporters working for a student magazine, Ms. Sanaz Allahyari and Amir Hossein Mohammadifar, have also gone on hunger strike since last week.

The three are protesting their condition behind bars, as well as being mistreated by prison authorities.

Imprisoned political activists and journalists in Iran often have no choice other than going on hunger strike to protest inhumane prison conditions, RSF has stressed, adding that hunger strike is physically and mentally damaging and sometimes leads to the death.

The Headquarters of Tharallah, a fearsome security body affiliated with the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) arrested 33-year-old blogger and photojournalist, Soheil Arabi, in November 2013, at his home in Tehran.

Arabi spent two months in the IRGC's Ward 2-A in Tehran's notorious prison, Evin, before being transferred to Section 350 which is under the control of the Iranian judiciary.

On August 30, 2014, a five-judge panel of Branch 76 of the Criminal Court of Tehran sentenced Arabi to death for sacrilege and "insulting the Prophet of Islam" in eight Facebook accounts allegedly belonging to Arabi.

Furthermore, On September 4, 2014, Branch 15 of the Tehran Revolutionary Court also sentenced Arabi to three years on charges of "insulting the Islamic Republic's Supreme Leader," Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and "propaganda against the state" in his postings on Facebook.

Two years later, the sentence was commuted to seven and a half-year imprisonment, as well as hand copying thirteen Shi'a textbooks and studying Shi'ism.

Meanwhile, Amir Hossein Mohammadifar, the editor of an online students' magazine, Gam, and his journalist wife, Sanaz Allahyari, who had published reports concerning labor strikes across Iran, were arrested last January. Deprived of having access to legal counsel, they have been on hunger strike since July 4, 2019.

Ms. Allahyari was initially jailed in the infamous Ward 209 of Evin prison but transferred to the general ward in early May. The prison authorities have deprived her of receiving medical treatment and visiting a hospital. Ms. Allahyari is suffering from recurrent stomach pains, weight loss, and severe shaking in her hands and legs for more than two months.