Political Prisoner Ali Shariati Tricked Into Ending Hunger Strike With False Promise by Judiciary
“Mr Rouhani and Mr. Alavi know what’s going on, but I don’t know why they don’t act.”
Imprisoned civil rights activist Ali Shariati has been denied conditional release despite an earlier promise by judicial officials issued in exchange for him ending his hunger strike, Shariati’s mother told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI).
“Judicial officials told him they would grant him conditional release if he broke his hunger strike,” said Shayesteh-ol-Sadat Shahidi in an interview with CHRI on July 11, 2017.
She continued: “Ali was demanding a judicial review. He said his sentence was unjust. He didn’t ask for conditional release, but that’s what they promised, and when Ali stopped his hunger strike, they didn’t fulfill it. Now they are saying that the detective in charge of the case is opposed to his release.”
Shahidi also told CHRI that Intelligence Minister Mahmoud Alavi contacted her son while he was being interrogated in 2015 after being arrested by agents of the ministry and advised him to refuse to sign any false statements.
The implication of her statement is that Alavi, who was appointed to his position by Rouhani and apparently aware of and opposed to the fact that Shariati was arrested simply for being a Rouhani supporter, was unable to order his own staff to free Shariati.
“Mr Rouhani and Mr. Alavi know what’s going on, but I don’t know why they don’t act,” said Shahidi. “Mr. Alavi totally knows because he called Ali on two occasions when he was being interrogated by Intelligence Ministry agents and told him not to write any statements that were untrue.”
“I don’t know what all of this means,” she added. “His interrogator mocked him and said Rouhani was doing nothing to help him even though Ali did everything for Rouhani’s campaign.”
Since October 2016, Shariati has been serving a five-year prison sentence for the charge of “acting against national security by participating in a protest against acid attacks in front of [Parliament].”
Shariati began the hunger strike in November 2016 “in protest against his forced return to prison to serve a sentence that has no legal basis,” his mother told CHRI at the time.
A former worker for Rouhani’s 2013 election campaign, Shariati ended his hunger strike in January 2017 after the authorities promised to grant him conditional release. Shariati was also urged to accept food again by prominent reformist leader Mohammad Khatami, political prisoners and his ailing mother.
The 31-year-old activist was arrested on February 18, 2015 by agents of the Ministry of Intelligence at his home after they discovered posts he had made on social media that were critical of the government.
Shariati and fellow political prisoner Majid Azarpey urged Rouhani to look into their cases in a November 2015 open letter.
“You are the enforcer of the Constitution,” they wrote. “We want you to end your inaction and take a stand against these witch hunts [against your supporters]. Do not let these extremist forces help the enemies of our land with their injustices.”
In her July 2017 interview with CHRI, Shahidi said prison authorities had repeatedly rejected her son’s requests to be medically treated outside the prison.
“On several occasions we made appointments with doctors for Ali’s vision and dental problems,” she said. “We got permission from the prosecutor and handed it to Evin Prison. But the prison authorities rejected us three times. They insisted Ali should be treated by the prison doctor, even though the same doctor had written a letter recommending outside treatment.”
Shariati was repeatedly arrested for his peaceful activism prior to his most recent incarceration.
On February 14, 2010, he was arrested for taking part in the widespread protests against the disputed result of the 2009 presidential election and sentenced to two years in prison and 74 lashes. Upon appeal his sentence was reduced to one year in prison, which he served.
Shariati was arrested again on June 13, 2014 and detained for a week before being released.
From that point on he was frequently summoned to the Intelligence Ministry for questioning until February 18, 2015, the day of the arrest that led to his most recent imprisonment.