PARIS, 21 July (IPS) Iranian lawyer and human rights campaigner Shirin Ebadi confirmed on Wednesday 22 July that a dozen of prominent Iranian political personalities and students, among them Mr. Naser Zarafshan and Heshmatollah Tabarzadi are in hunger strike since two weeks ago
In interviews with foreign-based Radio stations such as the BBC and RFI (Radio France International) monitored by Iran Press Service in Paris, Mrs. Ebadi said the prisoners have started the action 15 days ago, coinciding with the anniversary of the 8 July 1999 student’s revolt.
Authorities banned local media to write about the hunger strike and independent internet sites are filtered.
Besides Mr. Zarafshan, jailed because of accepting the defence of the families of the victims of the notorious “Serial Murders” case and Mr. Tabarzadi, a former student’s leader and General Secretary of the Iranian Democratic Front, other prisoners observing hunger strike are Mostafa and Peyman Piran, Dr Farzad Hamidi, Ahmad Batebi, Sa’id Mansouri, Sa’id Shahvandi, Farhad Dousti, Ommid Abbasali-Nezhad, Reza Mohammadi, Qolamreza Ahmadi, Ali Shari’at Panah and Qolamhoseyn Kalvi.
The "Serial Murders" is the case of several leading politicians and intellectuals dissidents, including Mr. Dariush Forouhar, the leader of Iranian People Party and his wife Parvaneh murdered savagely in their residence in Tehran, writers and human rights activists Mohammad Mokhtari, Ja'afar Pouyandeh, Majid Sharif and Pirouz Davani at the hands of senior officers of the Intelligence Ministry on November 1998.
The authorities confiscated the modest residence of the Piran family and threw them out in the street, offering vague explanations. But friends and family sources told IPS that the reason for the inhuman action was Peyman Piran’s activities the authorities judges as propaganda against the Islamic Republic and insulting the senior officials.
Mr. Batebi is the young student who was jailed after he was photographed with the bloodstained T-shirt of a fellow student wounded during student’s rebellion. The picture was printed by newspapers worldwide and displayed on the cover page of the influential British magazine The Economist.
Asked on the aims for the action, Mrs. Ebadi, the first Iranian to win the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize last year cited “identification of all the people who ordered the attack on the students on 8 July, solidarity with the Piran family, unconditional release of all political prisoners, including the students”, quoting Mr. Zarafshan.
“Because of the strict ban imposed by the authorities on the local media in the one hand and the filtering of independent internet sites on the other, few people are aware of the hunger strike action”, one source close to the prisoners told IPS.
The Judiciary had earlier on the week shut down two pro-reforms newspapers, namely Jomhouriyyat and Vaqaye’-e-Ettefaqiyyeh that could talk about the hunger strike.
A group named The Independent Movement for Democracy in Iran published a letter signed by all the strikers and called on international media and human rights organisations to take proper and necessary measures for the defence of Iranian political prisoners and respect of human rights.
The Office for Consolidating Unity, the largest organisation of Iranian students took similar initiative last week by writing a letter to the General Secretary of the United Nations, after the authorities refused to allow the students commemorating the 8 July uprising.
The authorities confiscated the modest residence of the Piran family and threw them out in the street
On that date, Police, backed by members of several pressure groups controlled by the ruling conservatives and special units of the Intelligence Ministry stormed dormitories where some 300 students were protesting peacefully the closure of a popular newspaper.
The nightly raid was so brutal that the students took to the street the day after and for six consecutive days, demonstrated against the regime and its most senior leaders, including Ayatollah Ali Khameneh'i who, fearing seriously for the survival of the his regime, ordered the Revolutionary Guards, the Basij militia and special anti-riot units to crush the movement “at any cost”.
“Mr. Zarafshan had obviously lost weight, but he was in a high spirit when I met him in Evin prison on Tuesday”, Mrs. Ebadi said, adding that the hunger strikers are determined to continue their action until their get satisfaction, “above all the return of the Piran family to their flat”. ENDS HUNGER STRIKE 22704