Husband and Wife Journalists Hunger Strike to Break “Limbo” of Six-Month Detention
Imprisoned journalists Amirhossein Mohammadifar and Sanaz Allahyari, a married couple, have been on a wet hunger strike since July 4, 2019, in Tehran’s Evin Prison to convince the authorities to allow them to post bail.
“It has been nearly six months since my wife and I were put in temporary detention,” Mohammadifar, the editor-in-chief of the Gam independent Telegram app news channel wrote in an open letter explaining their joint hunger strike to presiding Judge Mohammad Moghiseh on July 3, 2019.
“We have been interrogated and investigated but we are still in temporary detention even though we have been granted permission to post bail,” he added. “Our families have taken steps but no one is giving them clear answers. We have been left in limbo.”
Allahyari, who works as a journalist for Gam, and her husband have been charged with “contacts with anti-state groups,” “assembly and collusion against national security” and “forming a group with the intention to disturb national security.” No date has been announced for their trial.
Two other Gam reporters are also facing prosecution: Ali (Amir) Amirgholi has been detained since January 16 and Asal Mohammadi was released on bail on January 5, a month after she was arrested.
“My wife and I were arrested simultaneously and this has caused a lot of problems in our personal lives,” wrote Mohammadifar. “We have lost our jobs, our insurance has been cancelled, the rent is overdue, our loan payments are in arrears and our families are in a lot of hardship.”
Allahyari, 33, who has an undergraduate degree in economics, was previously arrested in February 2009 and held for 17 days for being a member of a student organization that campaigned for greater freedoms and gender equality.
She was later issued a five-year suspended prison sentence at an unknown date for the charge of “assembly and collusion against national security.” Suspended prison sentences are not enforced but the defendant is closely monitored during the term.
Allahyari’s mother, Golkhanom Nowrouzi, told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) on July 10, 2019, that she was confused about how she could seek her daughter’s release after repeatedly being falsely told by the authorities that Allahyari would be freed soon.
“We have gone to every office but no one gives us any answers,” Nowrouzi said. “Before the [Persian] new year (March 21, 2019), I went to the prosecutor’s office [in Tehran]. My language is Turkish and I can’t speak Persian very well.
“I cried and begged. I said, ‘My daughter is my only child. Please let her go for God’s sake,’” she added. “They said they would but she and her husband are still in prison, even though they have already been interrogated. Three times they said they would free them but they haven’t.”
She continued: “Every week her father and I go to Tehran to visit Sanaz in prison. God knows how difficult it is. We will visit her on Sunday [July 14] and be able to see what condition she is in after all this time on hunger strike. I don’t know if I should go to the Revolutionary Court or the Parliament to get answers. I don’t know what to do.”