Seventy-two political prisoners who have been detained for partaking in the November 2019 protests are participating in a hunger strike over coronavirus fears at the Greater Tehran Penitentiary.
The prisoners announced in a letter today that they started a hunger strike to protest against being denied leave during the Coronavirus pandemic and poor prison conditions.
The strikers refused meals today and said that they will continue their protest until their demands are met.
The political prisoners said in their letter, “We started to strike today to protest the violations of the political prisoners’ rights and the authorities’ insistency on imprisoning justice-seeking people in these deplorable health conditions and in this remote prison, which lacks the necessary standards for human care.
The main point is that none of us is criminals and our right to protest. Criminals are those who cause inflation and a catastrophic economic situation.”
“We demanded our rights and the rights of the affected people. We demanded our lives and were sentenced to gradual death in this exile where there are no basic facilities for human living,” the detained protesters said.
“The prison’s health conditions have become more dangerous due to the outbreak of the Coronavirus and considering that due to overcrowding, social distance protocols are never observed. That is why the lives of thousands of people in this prison are in danger,” the prisoners warned.
“Despite the fact that even the head of the judiciary has agreed to our leave, Amin Vaziri, the representative of the prosecutor and the prosecutor in charge of political prisoners, has opposed this emergency leave, which could save our lives. In response to our parents who ask why our breadwinners are detained, he explicitly says you should die of hunger.”
“So, we prefer to die by striking over death by contracting a virus that resembles an oppressive and corrupt system,” the political prisoners said.
Iranian authorities have refused to send political prisoners to furlough despite the growing COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak in the country which affected the prisons.
Political prisoners have been forced to remain in the country’s overcrowded jails even as inmates around them have displayed coronavirus symptoms. Many of them have contracted the virus so far.
COVID-19 has also spread in the Greater Tehran Prison (Fashafuyeh) located southeast of the Iranian capital, reports indicate, killing at least eight inmates. Food poisoning, contaminated water and any other illness in this facility raise the risk of the inmates being infected with the coronavirus.
On Friday, April 10, many of the inmates in this prison suffered poisoning after authorities provided rotten and expired food. This case of food poisoning is being reported at a time when the inmates are already deprived of medical attention and enduring very dire conditions.
The water wells of this prison are only 100 meters away from an industrial livestock complex and the town of Hassan Abad where many industrial sites are located. As a result, the drinking water of the Greater Tehran Prison is mixed with sewage water and extremely contaminated.