The deteriorating situation in women’s ward in Iran’s prisons is of tremendous concern, especially in the current situation in which the Coronavirus has spread across the country and most of the provinces are shown in red. Red is the highest category on the regime's Coronavirus risk scale. 140 female prisoners in Urumieh prison in Iran, have launched a hunger strike to protest the deplorable condition of the prison during Corona pandemic.
Maryam Akbari has been in jail for 11 years straight in a row without having a single day of leave. She was arrested on December 31, 2009 and later sentenced to 15 years of imprisonment. Atena Daemi was sentenced to 14 years in jail by the Revolutionary Court of Tehran on May 15, 2015. The Appeals Court commuted her sentence to 7 years. But before finishing her term, she was sentenced to another 3 years and 7 months of imprisonment following a new case fabricated against her.
- The Revolutionary Court of Sanandaj sentenced women’s rights activist Hajar Saeedi to five years of jail sentence suspended for four years. The court convened in the absence of her lawyer. Hajar Saeedi is accused of participating in illegal gatherings and having contact with labor activists. According to the court’s verdict, she must report in to the Department of Intelligence of Sanandaj every four months. Hajar Saeedi has been arrested on a number of occasions by security forces, the latest of which was on June 7, 2020. Touran Haml Zehi, a civil activist in Baluchestan, was summoned on August 15, 2020 by the IRGC Intelligence Department. The IRGC Intelligence ordered her to report in by August 18 without mentioning the reason.
Touran Haml Zehi is a civil activist from Sistan and Baluchestan who was active in charity work, including giving assistance to impoverished families to build homes. She also worked to recruit and attract more charity workers to build several schools and help flood-stricken victims in January 2020. She is married and has several children.
Shahnaz Sadeghifar and her 17-year-old daughter, Aynaz Zare’e, have been on hunger strike since August 13, 2020, in the Central Prison of Urmia. Their protest is to the illegal and arbitrary arrest of Aynaz and her undetermined status in prison, as well as to the heavy 15-year sentence for Shahnaz Sadeghifar. Mrs. Sadeghifar has two mortar shrapnels in her heart because of having lived in the war zones in the Iranian Kurdistan. She needs to be immediately operated on, but she has been deprived of any medical care. She has previously had a surgery and now, her place of surgery is badly infected.
Zahra Rahimi, general director of Imam Ali NGO was summoned to the court on August 15. A number of members of this charity group were also arrested. During the 50 days since their arrests, none of them had any legal attorneys and they had to accept the lawyers appointed by the Judiciary. The NGO’s lawyers said the arrests and detentions were politically motivated.
At 11 a.m. Monday morning, August 17, 2020, five Judiciary agents went to the residence of Ms. Nasrin Sotoudeh and abducted her daughter, Mehraveh Khandan, without presenting any explanations. They took her to the Security Courthouse of Evin. Mehraveh Khandan is only 20 years old. She has already been deprived of leaving the country since she was 12. Mehraveh Khandan arrested to pressure her mother, Nasrin Sotoudeh. In September 2018, Evin Prison authorities harassed and threatened to deprive her from visiting her mother under the pretext of mal-veiling when she had gone to visit her mother. Over the past years, Ms. Sotoudeh’s family have been under various forms of pressure. Nasrin Sotoudeh’s husband, Reza Khandan, was also arrested in September 2018 and remained in jail for several months. Ms. Sotoudeh went on hunger strike on August 25, 2018, and on September 6, announced that she would refuse to accept any IV fluids, or her blood pressure taken at the prison’s medical clinic. She also went on hunger strike to protest the pressures and threats levels on her children. Human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh has been on unlimited hunger strike since August 11, 2020, in protest to the failure of prison authorities to respond to the political prisoners’ demand as well as their failure to address prison conditions during the coronavirus outbreak. By her hunger strike, she is demanding the release of all political prisoners. Human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh was arrested on June 13, 2018 and detained since in the women’s ward of Evin Prison. Her charges include “collusion against national security”, “dissemination of falsities”, “distortion of public opinion” and “insulting the state officials.” She has been sentenced to a total of 38 years in prison and 148 lashes.