Detained Civil Rights Activist Refusing to Break Hunger Strike
Farhad Meysami Thin and Pale after More than a Month on Hunger Strike
Farhad Meysami, the 48-year-old physician who has been detained in Iran’s Evin Prison since his arrest on July 31, 2018, is physically deteriorating after being on hunger strike for over a month to protest his unlawful detainment.
Meysami was arrested for participating in gatherings to protest against the imprisonment of civil rights activists and the arrests of women who were detained for removing their headscarves in public.
According to Meysami’s mother, the physician has become extremely pale and lost a great deal of weight. He has been on hunger strike since August 1, 2018, one day after his arrest for peaceful civil rights activities.
“My son did not look well,” Sedigheh Pishnamaz told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) after seeing her son on August 28 for the first time since he was taken into custody.
“He has been transferred to the (prison) clinic several times but still refuses to break his hunger strike in protest against the charges laid against him. I’m really worried for him.”
The former imprisoned journalist Jila Baniyaghoub tweeted on August 28 that she had received a phone call from a weak-sounding Meysami from inside Evin Prison.
“Farhad called me from Ward 4. His voice was without energy and weak. I expressed my concern and he said: ‘I feel better right now because in the clinic they injected a serum into me and my blood pressure has gone up to seven and a half. They asked me if I was going to break my (hunger) strike and I said no,’” Baniyaghoub wrote.
A physician by training, Meysami has taken part in numerous public gatherings in support of political prisoners and against Iran’s compulsory hijab rules. After his arrest on July 31, he was held in solitary confinement for 20 days in Evin’s Ward 209, which is under the control of the intelligence ministry, before being moved to the public Ward 4. The intelligence ministry is under the direct authority of President Hassan Rouhani.
The charges against him include “assembly and collusion against national security with the intention to incite women to appear in public with bare heads,” “propaganda against the state” and “insulting the hijab as an indispensable Islamic principle.”
“Evidence” against him includes several pins found in his home at the time of his arrest with messages against forced hijab printed on them.
On August 13 his mother submitted a letter to Branch 7 of the Revolutionary Court in Evin Prison complaining that she had received phone calls sounding like her son was making confessions while being beaten during interrogation.
“I’m on hunger strike out of respect for my own human dignity and that of all other individuals who have been detained on false accusations and interrogated without access to their own chosen lawyers. I refuse to simply submit to such an unfair process,” he said in a note from prison on August 24.