Reporters Without Borders is very worried about the state of health of eight women prisoners of conscience who began a hunger strike five days ago in protest against inhuman and degrading jail conditions. They include three journalists and netizens – Mahssa Amrabadi, Jila Bani Yaghoob and Shiva Nazar Ahari.
The women are the victims of reprisals by the authorities in response to a joint statement on 31 October by Nobel peace laureate Shirin Ebadi and six human rights organizations including Reporters Without Borders, which voiced concern about the situation of women prisoners of conscience in Tehran’s Evin prison.
A few hours after the statement’s release, female guards raided the women’s wing of Evin prison and spent hours inspecting the detainees’ personal effects. After finding no forbidden items, the guards began to search the detainees in a degrading manner and to mistreat them.
It was in response to this humiliating treatment that the eight women – who also include Nazanin Dihami, Bahareh Hedayat, Nasim Soltanbighi, Hakimeh Shokriand and Jila Karam Zadeh Makvandi – began their human strike.
Nasrin Sotoudeh, a jailed human rights lawyer who defended several imprisoned journalists, was meanwhile transferred to Section 209, Evin prison’s security wing, on 31 October, five days after the European Parliament announced it was awarding her this year’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought.
Sotoudeh, who has been on hunger strike since 17 October, was also forbidden to receive visits for three weeks.
“The Iranian authorities, especially the Islamic Republic’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, are responsible for the health and safety of all their detainees and we will hold them responsible for anything that happens to these women prisoners of conscience,” Reporters Without Borders said.
“These women are not just serving long jail terms but are now also being subjected to humiliating and degrading treatment in flagrant violation of national and international laws. The international community must not remain silent in the face of the Islamic Republic’s many atrocities in its prisons.”
While supporting their fight for the right to information and freedom of expression, Reporters Without Borders urges these women prisoners to abandon their hunger strike for fear that they could die.