April 4, 2017

Journalist on hunger strike now in critical condition

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns the irresponsibility of Iran’s most senior officials in refusing to release Henghameh Shahidi, a journalist who has been on hunger strike since her arrest on 9 March.

In a short phone call to her mother a few days ago, Shahidi said she was not eating anything at all and was no longer able to walk as a result of the hunger strike. In a letter published shortly after her arrest, she announced that she would continue the hunger strike “until my release or my death.” She is currently in solitary confinement in Section 209 of Tehran’s Evin prison.

“We hold judicial authority chief Sadegh Amoli Larijani, Tehran prosecutor Abass Jafari Dolatabadi, justice minister Mostafa Pour-Mohammadi and intelligence minister Mahmoud Alavi responsible for the survival of Henghameh Shahidi, who is now in a critical condition and could die as a result of this hunger strike,” said Reza Moini, the head of RSF’s Iran/Afghanistan desk.

Shahidi is not the only victim of the inhuman and degrading treatment that the Iranian regime reserves for prisoners of conscience, especially journalists and citizen journalists. Going on hunger strike is the only method available to them for protesting against arbitrary arrest and prison conditions.

In 2016, at least ten imprisoned journalists who were ill and were denied medical treatment went on hunger strike to demand appropriate care.

RSF calls for an immediate reaction from Asma Jahangir, the UN special rapporteur for human rights in Iran, to the real danger to the lives of these journalists. RSF thinks Jahangir should demand a clear response from the Iranian authorities to the situation of these prisoners and above all Shahidi’s state of health.

Journalists and citizen journalists continue to be summoned and arrested in Iran. The latest victims include Morad Saghafi, the editor of the magazine Goft o Gu (“Dialogue” in Persian) and Ramin Karimian, a journalist and translator. They were arrested on 16 and 18 March respectively and were taken to an unknown location.

Ranked 169th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2016 World Press Freedom Index, Iran is one of the world’s five biggest prisons for media personnel, with a total of 30 journalists and citizen journalists detained.