In a letter addressed to the internal director of Rajai Shahr prison and international organizations, political prisoner Reza Joushan announced a hunger strike in protest to the deprivation of his civil and human rights. According to Human Rights and Democracy Activists in Iran, Joushan fell into a coma on his sixth day of hunger strike and was transferred to the prison clinic in Rajai Shahr. Joushan’s sister spoke to VOA before he fell into a coma.
Reza Joushan began his hunger strike on July 21, 2010. Zahra Asadpour, Reza Joushan’s mother, is also imprisoned in the women’s ward of Rajai Shahr prison. Previously, Asadpour spent 16 months in jail along with her daughter Fatemeh Joushan for visiting her son in Camp Ashraf (PMOI camp located in Iraq). After her release, she was detained again six months after. Reza Joushan was arrested on November 30, 2009 and was sentenced to two years in prison on the charge of “acting against national security”, “propaganda against the regime”, and “cooperation with the PMOI”.
Reza Joushan’s sister Fatehmeh Joushan, who currently resides in Turkey, described her brother’s ordeal in prison to VOA correspondent Farideh Rahbar.

Fatemeh Joushan: Following the events of June 2009, my brother was twice arrested. The second time occured on November 30, 2009. He was detained because my brother and I had left Iran. My mother was arrested six days later. My brother was subject to interrogation for two months. We have no news on his physical condition since April 10, 2010 because he was transferred to an ancillary ward and his visitation rights were cancelled. My brother was sentenced to two years in prison, given a four-year suspended prison sentence, and five years of exile in the village of Gheylar in the province of Zanjan. He did not have a lawyer because he was not allowed to acquire one.

VOA: Do you know why he went on hunger strike?

FJ: My brother apparently stated that his hunger strike is to protest against the fact that he does not have the right to contact his mother in prison or family outside the prison and, also, officials refuse to transfer him to the general ward. My brother announced on July 11th that he would go on hunger strike. There was a visit by a judiciary official who promised my brother to transfer him to the general ward after July 9th (the anniversary of the 1999 Student uprising). On July 12th, there was a brief meeting between my mom and my brother in the Revolutionary Guard’s ward in the presence of *Mohebi. They were permitted to speak to my father on the phone for one minute, just enough time for them to say they were doing well. I don’t know what happened during the conversation, but Mohebi grabbed the phone and threatened my father with arrest if he talks or gives any interviews.

VOA: How is your mother and why was she arrested?

FJ: My mother’s physical condition is not very good. After she went on hunger strike in May for ten days, her eyesight has diminished a lot. My mother and I spent one year and four months in jail. She was released for six months, but then was arrested again, and now she has received a one year jail sentence.

VOA: What is your request?

FJ: I ask international organizations to look into the case of my brother and my mother. My brother’s physical condition is not good. He suffers from cardiac and pulmonary diseases and my mother suffered from a heart attack in jail. For the past three months, we have had no news on them except for that short conversation they had with my father. I want their situation be resolved and for them to be released as soon as possible.
*Translator’s Note: Mohebi is a chief interrogator at ward 8 (the IRGC ward) of Gohardasht prison (I.e. Rajai Shahr prison). He leads the team that deals with political prisoners.


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