Activist Imprisoned in Iran for Protesting Against Acid Attacks on Hunger Strike
Ali Shariati, who was imprisoned in 2015 for participating in a demonstration in front of Parliament against acid attacks on women, has gone on hunger strike “in protest against his forced return to prison to serve a sentence that has no legal basis,” said his mother, Shayesteh-ol-Sadat Shahidi.
“My son has always been a supporter of [President Hassan Rouhani’s] government,” Shahidi told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. “His participation in the demonstration against throwing acid on women was not an act against national security. In fact, it was a civil protest against the lack of security in the country.”
“It has been a week since my son went on hunger strike and he has only been drinking water and tea. Obviously, he’s not feeling well,” she said. “When he talks to me [on the phone] he sounds lethargic. The truth is that he avoids telling me anything so that I won’t get worried. But I’ve heard that he has been taken to the prison clinic several times. I want this government, which my son has supported, to seek my son’s freedom. The verdict that sent him to prison is unjust.”
An Appeals Court ruling in June 2016 upheld a five-year prison sentence against Shariati for “acting against national security by participating in a protest against acid attacks acid in front of [Parliament] on October 22, 2014.” In late August 2016, Shariati asked Branch 23 of the Revolutionary Court in Qom to review his case, but was turned down.
Earlier this year, from his prison cell Shariati had urged Iranians to vote for reformists and supporters of Rouhani in the February 2016 parliamentary election.
“A day after Ali’s grandfather died on May 15, 2016, prison officials granted him furlough (temporary leave),” Shahidi told the Campaign. “While he was out of prison, he requested a review of his case, but unfortunately it was rejected. Then, on October 31, he was arrested and taken to Evin Prison (in Tehran) without prior notice after going to the Tehran Municipality for a personal matter.”
“At 3 p.m. on the same day (October 31), when I didn’t hear anything from Ali, I contacted the prosecutor’s office,” she added. “I asked the secretary if Ali had been arrested—he said no. But at 7 p.m. Ali called me and said he had been arrested and was being held in Ward 8 at Evin Prison. Ali said he had immediately started a hunger strike and would not stop until he’s acquitted of the unjust sentence against him.”
Shariati, 30, was first arrested on February 14, 2010 and held for a month in solitary confinement in Evin Prison. He was released on bail until his trial, which was presided by Judge Abbas Pirabbasi of the Revolutionary Court who sentenced Shariati to two years in prison and 74 lashes. The Appeals Court later reduced the sentence to one year in prison, which Shariati served, and the lashing sentence was never carried out.
The second arrest took place on June 13, 2014. Shariati was detained for a week before being released, but he was afterwards frequently summoned to the Intelligence Ministry for questioning until he was arrested again on February 18, 2015.
The October 22, 2014 demonstration against acid attacks on women in front of Iran’s Parliament took place after a series of acid attacks in the city of Isfahan left at least seven women permanently disfigured. Two years later, no one has been punished or arrested for the crimes.