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Hunger Strike Passes 19th Day; Demanding Separation of Political Prisoners



As the hunger strike of 27 political prisoners in the town of Orumiyeh, west of Tabriz in north-western part of Iran, entered its 19th day, news came that the prisoners were denied telephone calls to their relatives, cutting off all communications with the outside world. Kamal Hosseini, a reporter in West Azerbaijan province told Rooz that the prisoners had told him earlier that they would continue their hunger strike until their demands are met.

All 29 prisoners are kept in ward 12 of Orumiyeh’s main prison. They began their hunger strike in protest to being kept in the same ward as non-political hard core criminals, contrary to the normal practice in other larger prisons. Three of the prisoners are Turkish speaking Kurds, one is a national political prisoner and the remaining prisoners are of Kurdish ethnicity.

On November 29 Mansoor Arvand, a political prisoner on a hunger strike who has been sentenced to death was transferred to the prison in the town of Mahabad, the capital of the province of Wet Azerbaijan, also in north-western Iran. In recent days, Jaafar Afshari and other Kurdish political prisoners were moved to the workers ward of the prison in Orumiyeh.

Reporter Hosseini who has been following the movements of these political prisoners said that with the transfer of two of the prisoners, now only 27 of them are in hunger strike. He said relatives who had visited these prisoners earlier had spoken of the deteriorating health conditions of Alireza Rasooli. He began his hunger strike about 10 days ago in protest to not being transferred to a hospital outside the prison. Rasooli’s had been reported earlier to have health problems and had in fact gone on a hunger strike once before during the month of Shahrivar (8/23 to 9/22). At that time prison officials agreed to take him to a hospital outside the prison where he received treatment. He was returned to the same ward on his return. He faces charges of cooperating with one of the armed Kurdish groups while his relatives say he was arrested along with others who had gathered in front of the education department in the town of Mahabad in support of children from the town of Shinabad.

The 27 prisoners who are on hunger strike are demanding that a separate ward be constructed in the Orumiyeh’s 15-ward prison reserved for political prisoners, a common practice in other prisons. Officials have said the prison has no space for such a separate facility.

In addition to prisoners from the province, Orumiyeh prison also houses political prisoners from other jurisdictions across Iran, particularly those of Kurdish ethnicity. Prisoners in Orumiyeh have a record of hunger strikes in the past.

Rooz online