Political Prisoners Embark on Hunger Strike on Behalf of Sick Prisoners
Abdolfattah Soltani, an imprisoned lawyer and human rights activist, embarked on a hunger strike together with three other political prisoners on November 2, his sixtieth birthday, to protest the conditions of sick prisoners who need medical treatment and have been refused transfers to a hospital, his daughter told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.
Maedeh Soltani told the Campaign that despite being sick and in need of treatment himself, Abdolfattah Soltani is risking his own life to perhaps get the officials to pay attention to the medical situation of less well-known political prisoners inside Evin Prison.
“I have reliable information that right now prisoners including Yashar Darolshafa, Hamid Reza Moradi, Esmaeel Barzegar, Mohammad Hossein Yousefpour Seifi, Alireza Ahmadi, Ali Alaee, Saeed Matinpour, Reza Shahabi, Hamid Naghibi, Davood Asadi, Nader Jani, and Ali Maghzi are in critical condition. The prison authorities have told them ‘We don’t have funding to send you to a hospital,’ but when their families said, ‘We will pay the treatment costs ourselves,’ they still didn’t agree with their treatment outside the prison. I think the authorities knowingly and deliberately want to condemn the prisoners to a gradual death,” Maedeh Soltani told the Campaign.
Abdolfattah Soltani, a prominent human rights lawyer, was arrested on September 10, 2011. On January 8, 2012, Branch 26 of Tehran Revolutionary Court under Judge Pirabbasi sentenced him to 18 years in prison, exile to Borazjan, and 20 years’ ban on his legal practice on charges of “being awarded the  Nuremberg International Human Rights Award,” “interviewing with media about his clients’ cases,” and “co-founding the Defenders of Human Rights Center.” An appeals court lowered Soltani’s sentence to 13 years in prison.
Along with Amir Khosrow Dalirsani, Saeed Madani, and Mehdi Khodaei, Mr. Soltani has been on a wet hunger strike since Saturday, November 2. “My mother visited with my father through a booth on Monday, November 4. She said that my father has become a little thin and that he had dark circles around his eyes. My father is sick himself and needs medical treatment and the authorities are fully aware of his digestive tract problems, but there are people worse off than him in prison, prisoners who are unknown and their voices cannot be heard,” said Maedeh Soltani about her father’s health conditions.
“My father and the three other prisoners have completely rational and justified demands, because families of political prisoners, including my own mother, have repeatedly gone to the Tehran Prosecutor’s office to seek treatment and medical evaluations for their relatives, but have not even been able to see Mr. Dolatabadi, the Tehran prosecutor. The prisoners’ requests from inside the prison have also gone unanswered. This is why these four prisoners were forced to give of their own lives and health and go on hunger strike, hoping to get heard,” said Maedeh Soltani.
“My father was recently allowed to receive dental treatment outside the prison a few times, but his physical problems are not limited to his teeth. A while back my father was hospitalized for 40 days due to his digestive and stomach problems. His doctor said that his treatment should continue and had also prescribed medical furlough for him because the stressful environment of the prison exacerbates my father’s illnesses,” Maedeh Soltani told the Campaign about her father’s ailments.
“We request a review of my father’s specific and justified demands. In the statement he and the three other hunger strikers wrote they explain that failure to address the physical ailments of prisoners is against the law. My request is for the authorities to hear our voices and to do something before it’s too late,” concluded Maedeh Soltani.