Iran political prisoners suffering from global silence

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The case of a political prisoner on a hunger strike in Iran has recently gained widespread global attention as a campaign for his release went viral, with the hashtag #saveArash trending worldwide.  Iranian authorities are under pressure to release Arash Sadeghi as his conditions grow dire after continuing to protest and refusing any food consumption for over 70 days.

“A jailed Iranian activist on hunger strike in protest at the detention of his writer wife has taken social media by storm. The hashtag #SaveArash topped Twitter trending on Friday as fellow Iranians and others showed solidarity with Arash Sadeghi,” euronews reported.

The issue has also prompted Amnesty International to issue an Urgent Action call slamming Tehran’s approach.

“The Iranian authorities are putting the life of imprisoned human-rights defender Arash Sadeghi at grave risk and should release him and his wife, Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee without further delay,” the renowned human rights organization demanded.

Iranian authorities on December 31 ordered a total of $450,000 bail for the temporary release of Sadeghi and his wife.  While the property bond for Iraee was delivered the next day, according to the couple’s lawyer, authorities delayed her release, citing bureaucratic procedures.

After the long period Sadeghi has been on hunger strike, with authorities hindering his access to medical aid, various reports indicate he is “vomiting blood and experiencing severe respiratory, heart, kidney and gastrointestinal problems.”

In the past few days, Iranians have rallied outside Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison, marching and demanding Sadeghi’s release.

Reports also indicate that Hossein Sadeghi, Arash’s father, joined his son’s struggle.

“[T]o support my son, I have started my hunger strike since Friday, December 3rd to protest against the authorities,” he announced.

Following international pressure, Iran was forced to temporarily release Iraee on bail, prompting Sadeghi to end his hunger strike.

Sadeghi is currently behind bars serving a 19-year prison sentence under bogus charges of conspiracy and propaganda against the state – allegations he denies completely.

Sadeghi was previously arrested by Iranian authorities for his political activities twice on July 9 and December 23 of 2009, and again on May 5, 2014.  Each time his family was able to provide the bail for his release.  He was last arrested in October 2016 and remains behind bars ever since.

Iran’s so-called criminal justice system is of a callous nature, as authorities continue to impose harsh conditions on political prisoners across the country.  Many such detainees feel left with no choice other than launching hunger strikes to legally challenge their unjust detentions.

Already known for its appalling human rights violations, Iran can also be described as home to some of the most atrocious prisons, with a large population of political prisoners.

Unfortunately, Tehran’s mullahs have been able to take advantage of the West’s appeasement policy approach and silence in this regard to place many dissidents behind bars under appalling conditions.

The case of Maryam Akbari Monfared, another political prisoner behind bars on a 15-year sentence, has also raised grave concerns as authorities continue to deny her access to medical care.  Monfared made a call from inside prison demanding that senior Iranian officials be held accountable for the summer 1988 massacre of over 30,000 political prisoners, mostly members and supporters of the opposition People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK).

“She is facing reprisals after filing a formal complaint that seeks an official investigation into the mass killings of political prisoners, including her siblings, in the summer of 1988,” Amnesty warned.

It is high time for Iran to be the subject of strong condemnation and liability by the international community, and for the regime to understand that it must comply with international standards in relation to voices of dissent.

Otherwise, Iran will consider the international community’s silence and inaction a green light to continue pressuring political prisoners and increase its already horrific execution spree.

Originally posted in American Thinker

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