Civil Rights Defender Farhad Meysami at Risk of Death in Iranian Prison
Meysami Hunger-Striking to Demand End to Political Executions and Compulsory Hijab
February 2, 2023 – The UN and international human rights organizations should urgently demand that the Iranian judiciary release political prisoner Farhad Meysami, a civil and women’s rights defender whose life is in danger, said the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI).
Meysami has reportedly lost 53kgs (117lbs) from a hunger strike he began on October 7, 2022, in Rajaee-Shahr Prison in Karaj. Alarming images of the physician shared by BBC Persian, which first reported his condition, showed his emaciated body.
“Meysami was one of the first male activists to go to prison in Iran for demanding an end to the compulsory hijab for women,” said CHRI Deputy Director Jasmin Ramsey.
“He has sacrificed everything to demand basic rights for the Iranian people,” added Ramsey. “The international community should stand with him by amplifying his calls and by demanding his freedom to prevent the death of another political prisoner in Iran.”
CHRI urges international human rights organizations, as well as medical associations (because Meysami is a medical doctor) to band together in demanding freedom for the ailing human rights advocate.
During the first 75 days of his hunger strike, Meysami drank only liquids, but since December 19 has been on a “dry” hunger strike, according to a report by Voice of America.
“At a time when the rulers have denied the people their rights to a healthy body, livelihood and dignity, leaving nothing but daily pain and suffering, I have begun my own small contribution, hoping to turn these poisonous times into an antidote with a collective effort,” wrote Meysami in a letter published by BBC Persian.
“I will still stand by my three demands: stopping the executions of protesters, releasing political-civil prisoners, and stopping forced-hijab harassments, and I will continue my impossible mission in the hope that it may become possible later on with a collective effort,” he added.
Meysami has been behind bars since July 2018, serving a five-year prison term for peacefully advocating an end to Iran’s compulsory-hijab law along with fellow prominent activists including human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh.
Fellow political prisoner Jafar Panahi, a renowned filmmaker, has also started a hunger strike to demand freedom from his unlawful imprisonment.