Amnesty International has criticized the “appalling treatment” of two human rights activists in a prison outside Iran’s capital Tehran.

In a Friday statement, Amnesty said Atena Daemi and Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee arebeing held in “unsanitary conditions” in Shahr e-Rey Prison, a former industrial chicken farm, with their access to the outside world “severely restricted”.

The two women are being held in the quarantine section, where detainees are given inadequate food and salty water, according to Amnesty. Iraee, is reportedly in poor health amid a hunger strike and has been placed on IV fluids without her consent. She is suffering from severe cramping in her muscles from her refusal to eat.

In recent weeks, Daemi and Iraee have been barred from using the telephone, including contact with their families, except for one call per week under the supervision of a male prison guard. Relatives have bee prevented from providing them with fresh clothes, Amnesty reported.

“We are extremely alarmed by reports from Shahr-e Rey Prison about the targeting and escalating ill-treatment of Golrokh and Atena,” said Amnesty’s regional director Philip Luther. “They should never have been imprisoned in the first place, and now it seems the Iranian authorities are deliberately subjecting them to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment because of their outspoken activism and continued human rights work even behind bars.”

Iraee is serving a three-year sentence for writing an unpublished fictional story about stoning, while Daemi has been given a seven-year term for distributing leaflets and writing posts on social media about Iran’s use of the death penalty.

Amnesty’s Luther said:

The sentences handed down to Atena and Golrokh beggar belief. They must be released immediately and unconditionally by the Iranian authorities. Instead of punishing those who dedicate their lives to the cause of human rights in Iran, the authorities should start working to ensure human rights defenders are able to operate in a safe environment, free from fear or reprisals.