Forty political prisoners in the Greater Tehran Penitentiary have started a hunger strike since Monday, March 16, 2020 to protest Judiciary officials’ rejection of granting leaves to political prisoners and prisoners of conscience after the spread of Coronavirus to prisons. Protesting inmates include those arrested in the protests in November 2019.
The political prisoners announced their hunger strike in a declaration which contained the news of the deaths of several inmates in this prison due to the spread of Coronavirus. The declaration reads in part:
We, political prisoners and protesters of November (2019) have started a hunger strike because we have been buried alive. None of us have committed any crime. Our only crime was protesting against the conduct of the government, corruption and economic conditions. We are entitled to the right to protest.
Instead of responding (to our demands), we were arrested and tortured. Now, they have buried us alive. An inmate died of Coronavirus in our neighboring cell. Visitations have stopped and we cannot do anything. Those remaining in prison are the ones who had protested the government’s conduct, while those who embezzle are at large. None of us has any complainants. We are imprisoned for seeking justice. Writing an article or participating in a protest is our only crime.
Several prisoners have died of Coronavirus in this prison. Certainly, the virus will spread to our ward, too.
In addition, a number of protesters of November 2019 have been transferred to Ward 4 and contracted skin diseases. Their body is bruised and their skin sheds. These are contagious diseases.
All of us have been deprived of open trials and tortured under interrogation.
The overcrowded prisons of Iran are at risk of the spread of Coronavirus.
Thirty inmates in the Central Prison of Karaj have also started a hunger strike since March 11 in protest to the regime’s refusal to provide minimum hygienic and protective equipment amidst the spread of Coronavirus.