Women’s rights activist Atefeh Rangriz (pictured) has gone on hunger strike to protest her detention in Iran.

Rangriz started the strike last Wednesday to protest protest the Intelligence Ministry’s blocking of her release from Gharchak Prison, south of Tehran, said “a source with detailed knowledge of her case”.

Rangriz wrote in an open letter:

I will turn my body into a weapon against all these injustices and declare a hunger strike to protest the unlawful refusal to enforce five bail orders…and unjust sentences.

I am well aware that my life is not worth protecting by those who are treating it as a joke. I will endure this suffering to break the wall of silence that represents the quiet death of civil society and our cries for justice.

A source told the Center for Human Rights in Iran that the Intelligence Ministry had prevented Rangriz’s release to send a message to others pursuing rights and reforms.

Rangriz and workers’ rights activist Neda Naji were seized at a Tehran metro station after a May Day rally. Rangriz was initially granted bail but then taken back to Gharchak Prison.

At the end of August, the activist was sentenced to 11 years in prison and 74 lashes.

Iran Daily, Sept 1: Researcher Given 11-Year Prison Sentence Over May Day Rally

The source noted, “The other detainees were all released the same day but they held on to Neda, Atefeh and Marzieh Amiri, who is a women’s rights activist and journalist. It’s as if they want to punish them in order to intimidate other activists.”

Meanwhile, Rangriz has pledged to persist in her activism, ending her letter: “I will conclude with the words that have echoed throughout our downtrodden history: Death or Freedom.”

Iran’s authorities have stepped up their crackdown on women’s rights activists this year. They have imprisoned those protesting the compulsory wearing of hijab, and seized activists at International Women’s Day and May Day rallies.

On Monday the trial of 14 activists, who wrote an open letter calling for the Supreme Letter’s resignation, began in a Tehran Revolutionary Court.

See Iran Daily, August 26: Journalist Given 10 Years and 148 Lashes for Reporting on International Women’s Day
Iran Daily, Oct 20: Women’s Rights Activists on Trial for Demanding Supreme Leader’s Resignation