Imprisoned Blogger on Hunger Strike in Critical Condition
Imprisoned blogger Mehdi Khazali is in critical condition due to his hunger strike, his son Mohammad Saleh Khazali told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran in a February 10 interview.
“Today is the 33rd day my father has been on a hunger strike. After he suffered stomach bleeding last week, they transferred him from Evin Prison’s Ward 209 to the General Ward (350), and he was taken to the infirmary,” Mohammad Khazali told the Campaign. “After two weeks of refusing to let him have visitors, we were finally able to visit with him with a letter from the prosecutor. He had lost a lot of weight. He was in very poor condition, and unfortunately, since that day we don’t know about his condition.”
Security forces arrested Mehdi Khazali, a critical blogger and head of Hayyan Publishing House, on 9 January. Khazali’s arrest was accompanied by physical abuse, leading to a broken arm, according to Kaleme website. Security forces had previously arrested him on similar charges and had released him on bail.
“My father was arrested this time on charges such as ‘propagating against the regime,’ ‘insulting [the Supreme Leader],’ etc., for which he was previously arrested and for which there exist case files. My father told the investigative judge who issued his temporary detention orders that these same charges existed in his previous cases, and he had posted bail, guarantees, or custodianship for them, never having been detained.”
In February, presiding Judge Pirabbasi of Branch 26 of Tehran Revolutionary Court sentenced Mehdi Khazali to 14 years in prison, 10 years in exile, and 90 lashes for interviewing with the BBC and writing a letter to the the Supreme Leader of Iran.
Mehdi Khazali is one of a few Iranian political activists who has spoken of boycotting the upcoming parliamentary elections. According to Mohammad Khazali, his father’s hunger strike is in protest to his so-called temporary detention.
“In our visit with my father, we asked him to break his hunger strike and we also conveyed his friends’ request that he break his hunger strike, but he would not accept it.… He objects to his temporary detention. According to law, he must be released on bail until his sentence ruling is announced, but we don’t know why they don’t issue bail orders for him. Maybe they are afraid my father would write something if released,” he said.
Mohammad Khazali also told the Campaign that when his father’s arm was broken in his 9 January arrest, prison authorities refused to send him to the Medical Examiner’s Office, despite the family’s request. “Officials inside Ward 209 refused to take him to the Medical Examiner’s Office and told his case judge that my father himself had refused to go to the Medical Examiner,” said Mohammad Khazali. Mehdi Khazali is the son of Abolghassem Khazali, a high ranking cleric and a member of the Council of Experts.