Iran: Hunger striking political prisoner in dire conditions before presidential election
Esmaeel Abdi, an imprisoned teacher and senior member of the Tehran Teachers Guild, who has been on hunger strike since 16 days ago, is reportedly suffering very low blood pressure and dizziness. He was transferred to the Evin prison clinic for severe pain in his kidneys on Friday, day 13 of his hunger strike.
This member of the Tehran Province Teachers Guild Board of Directors has been on hunger strike since Sunday, April 30th, protesting “the judiciary’s lack of independence in issuing security rulings for teacher and labor union activists”.
On the fourth day of Abdi’s hunger strike, Amir Salar Davoudi, his lawyer, held the head of the judiciary, supreme court chief judge, state public prosecutor, Tehran’s public prosecutor, head of the country’s prisons, Minister of Intelligence and all security apparatuses responsible for his client’s conditions.
Abdi’s arrest & hunger strike
Abdi was a teacher of mathematics in Islamshahr. He was arrested by Islamic Republic of Iran security agents on the morning of November 9th, 2016 at his home while he was asleep.
Last March this former secretary of the Tehran Teachers Guild Center was sentenced to six years behind bars on charges of measures against national security. An appeals court upheld this ruling. His hearings have been recently registered in Iran’s supreme court.
Prior to this he had launched a hunger strike in 2015 along with Jafar Azimzadeh, another labor activist, while in Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison, protesting “security measures against guild activities.” This hunger strike led to the temporary release of these two civil activists. However, the security atmosphere against guild activities continued.
Currently, in addition to Abdi, other political prisoners are also on hunger strike coinciding with the presidential election. Human rights activist Atena Daemi and journalist Hengame Shahidi are on hunger strike in Evin Prison.
Human Rights Watch Protests
Human Rights Watch wrote in a recent report, “The election period is one of those rare times in Iran when many candidates seem to champion greater respect for human rights. But are any of the candidates willing to acknowledge the suffering of these prisoners and press for their rights, and, better still, their freedom?”
HRW added, “Ismail Abdi, the secretary general of the Teachers’ Association, is serving a six-year prison sentence in part for organizing a teachers’ demonstration in front of the parliament. He began a hunger strike on April 30 to protest authorities’ pressure on independent unions and the corrupt justice system.”
It is worth noting this political prisoner surpassed his 12th day of hunger strike on Thursday, May 11th and has already lost 10 kilograms of his weight.