Stop Fundamentalism – At least nine Iranian women prisoners, jailed on political charges, have gone on hunger strike as of yesterday to protest abusive behavior by prison guards against women at the notorious Evin prison. The strike is concurrent with that of another female political prisoner, the internationally known Nasrin Sotoudeh, winner of the 2012 European Union Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, who has been on a hunger strike for two weeks to protest harsh prison conditions at Evin.
The women started the strike after guards began an unannounced inspection which included body searches, beatings and verbal abuse.
The striking prisoners include woman journalists and political activists some arrested in the aftermath of the 2009 uprising in Iran. They are demanding guarantees that guards will never engage in similar behavior again.
Nasrin Sotoudeh received the 2012 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought last week from the European Parliament along with Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi. Both are invited to the European Parliament’s plenary session in December to receive their award. Sotoudeh is currently serving a 6-year prison sentence and Panahi is also facing 6 for political charges. They both are banned from leaving the country.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton issued a press statement last week congratulating Sotoudeh and Panahi for the achievement and expressing concern over Sotoudeh’s health condition following the announcement of her hunger strike..
“The work of Nasrin Sotoudeh and Jafar Panahi to uphold human rights and promote freedom of expression represents the desires of all Iranians to exercise their basic rights and freedoms,” said Secretary Clinton in her press statement on October 26. “Unfortunately, they will not be able to enjoy today’s recognition. Despite her deteriorating health, Iranian authorities have imprisoned Sotoudeh and sentenced her to six more years in prison,” added Clinton.
A European Parliament delegation was refused entry visa last week to Iran for asking to meet the two opposition activists to inform them about the prize award and congratulate them on the wining.
Later, Iran’s Judiciary head, Sadiq Larijani, considered the request to visit Sotoudeh and Panahi by the European delegation to be a clear interference in the internal affairs of the Iranian justice system. “The Judiciary will not allow such interfering by any group or country,” said Larigani to reporters Wednesday.
“How can the European Parliament dare to declare conditions for visiting our country?” Larijani complained adding, “They want to give a reward to people that the Iranian Judiciary has convicted.”