Jailed human rights defender Behnam Mousivand, has started on a hunger strike following his abrupt transfer to Rajai Shahr Prison in Karaj.
Behnam Mousivand was held at ward 8 of Tehran’s Evin Prison. He was taken to the prison’s infirmary on Saturday, August 29, after showing symptoms of COVID-19 including fever and chills.
Evin Prison guards took away his belongings from ward 8 on August 31. The authorities did not allow him to make a phone call with his family before being taken to Rajai Shahr Prison, which caused tremendous concern about his fate.
Mousivand is currently being held in solitary confinement in Rajai Shahr Prison and has been on a hunger strike since his transfer.
Bahnam Mousivand has been serving a five years prison sentence on the charge of “assembly and collusion against national security”.
Twelve prisoners in Evin Prison’s Ward 8, where Behnam Mousivand was being held, had previously contracted COVID-19.
They include prominent labor rights activists Esmail Abdi and Jafar Azimzadeh, the human rights lawyer Amirsalar Davoudi, and the journalist Majid Azarpey.
Mousivand and several other inmates in Ward 8 of the infamous jail held a sit-in protest on August 10, in the courtyard of the guardhouse to protest poor prison conditions.
Since the outbreak of COVID-19 in Iran became publicly known in February 2020, many have been raising concerns for the wellbeing of those jailed and calling for the release of prisoners of conscience and political prisoners.
The authorities have hidden facts about the dire prison conditions amid the pandemic, but numerous reports from inside the prisons across the country indicate that the virus is spreading at alarming rates.
Prisoners’ families have repeatedly voiced their fears that the lack of sanitary products and poor prison conditions put prisoners at greater risk. Hundreds of prisoners of conscience are currently imprisoned, and the authorities continue to arrest people for politically motivated reasons despite the serious threat of COVID-19.
Earlier on July 31, Amnesty International published some correspondence between the Iranian Prisons Organization and officials of the Ministry of Health, revealing that since the outbreak of the pandemic the regime has failed to send medical equipment and supplies to the country’s prisons to contain the virus.