PHOTO: Detained activist Arash Sadeghi, with his wife Golrokh Iraei, has been on hunger strike for almost 70 days

A group of MPs have called on Iran’s regime to give attention to the demands of political prisoners, some of whom have been detained for years.

The MPs’ statement was prompted by the hunger strikes of activist Arash Sadeghi and Ali Shariati. Signatories the conservative Deputy Speaker of Parliament Ali Motahari and reformists Elias Hazrati, Ahmad Manzani, and Mahmoud Sadeghi.

Arash Sadeghi, serving a 19-year sentence for charges such as “gathering and colluding with intent to harm national security”, has gone without food since October 24 after the arrest of his wife Golrokh Iraei over one of her unpublished stories. He has pledged to continue the fast until she is released. A campaign highlighting his situation, #SaveArash, topped Twitter’s trends last Friday.

Shariati is serving a five-year sentence for activism such as participation in a peaceful protest to condemn acid attacks against women. He has been on hunger strike since October 31.

Hazrati, who is also the managing director of Etemad daily newspaper, also wrote a letter to the head of judiciary Sadegh Larijani:

Unfortunately, ignoring the legal demands of these prisoners have caused some of them to go on hunger strike so that their voice would be heard. They are actually protesting at the existing conditions by putting their lives in danger.

Since the Judiciary and prison officials are responsible for protecting the lives of prisoners, it is appropriate that the Judiciary Chief issues an order to pursue the demands of two political prisoners who have gone on hunger strike so that their lives would be saved.

The Islamic Republic does not deserve to be globally accused of violating human rights and prisoners’ rights because of a small number of political prisoners.

Mazani said on Twitter that, based on the Charter on Citizens’ Rights recently unveiled by President Rouhani, “the trial of citizens on political and journalistic charges should be carried out in open courts with a jury in attendance”.

“A Trivial Issue That Could Be Resolved Through Prudence”

Scores of political prisoners, including the leaders of the opposition Green Movement, remain behind bars after the mass protests following the disputed 2009 Presidential election.

Motahari has led calls for the Green Movement’s Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, both candidates in the election “won” by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and Mousavi’s wife Zahra Rahnavard to be tried in court. The trio have been under strict house arrest since February 2011.

The Supreme Leader has refused any consideration of a trial. Last week senior Iranian officials renewed the line that there must be “vigilance against sedition”.

See Iran Daily: After 5 1/2 Years in Detention, Opposition Leaders Asking for Fair Trial
Iran Daily, Dec 28: Supreme Leader Renews Concern About 2009 Mass Protests and the “Enemy”

Motahari wrote on Instagram about the hunger strikes of Sadeghi and Shariati:

[Because of] the heavy sentences issued for political critics without regard to how much impact they have on the society, they finally have to go on hunger strike. A trivial issue that could be resolved through prudence turns to a pretext for the enemies of Islamic Revolution to raise human rights deficits against Iran.

Security and judiciary officials should stop using such procedures,

Fars News, the outlet of the Revolutionary Guards, reacted to the Twitter campaign #SaveArash with the claim that Sadeghi has links with Western spy agencies: “His friends and fans, and those who want to help the counter-revolutionary forces, insist on hiding the fact that he is a traitor who has betrayed his homeland. [They] just try to introduce him as a protester and a person convicted for insulting Iran’s Leader.”